Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

The Epic of Gilgamesh - Bohuslav Martinů

New recording of the English version of Bohuslav Martinů's The Epic of Gilgamesh, from Supraphon, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Manfred Honeck. This is the world premiere recording of the text in English, the original language in which it was written.

Maybe the Best L’heure espagnole Yet

The new recording, from Munich, has features in common with one from Stuttgart that I greatly enjoyed and reviewed here: the singers are all native French-speakers, the orchestra is associated with a German radio channel, we are hearing an actual performance (or in this case an edited version from several performances, in April 2016), and the recording is released by the orchestra itself or its institutional parent.

Stéphanie d’Oustrac in Two Exotic Masterpieces by Maurice Ravel

The two works on this CD make an apt and welcome pair. First we have Ravel’s sumptuous three-song cycle about the mysteries of love and fantasies of exotic lands. Then we have his one-act opera that takes place in a land that, to French people at the time, was beckoningly exotic, and whose title might be freely translated “The Nutty and Delightful Things That Can Happen in Spain in Just One Hour”.

Stefano Secco: Crescendo

I had never heard of Stefano Secco before receiving this CD. But I see that, at age 34, he already has had a substantial career, singing major roles at important houses throughout Europe and, while I was not paying attention, occasionally in the US.

French orientalism : songs and arias, Sabine Devieilhe

Mirages : visions of the exotic East, a selection of French opera arias and songs from Sabine Devieilhe, with Alexandre Tharaud and Les Siècles conducted by François-Xavier Roth, new from Erato

Hans Werner Henze Choral Music

Hans Werner Henze works for mixed voice and chamber orchestra with SWR Vokalensemble and Ensemble Modern, conducted by Marcus Creed. Welcome new recordings of important pieces like Lieder von einer Insel (1964), Orpheus Behind the Wire (1984) plus Fünf Madrigale (1947).

Bettina Smith, Norwegian Mezzo, in Songs by Fauré and Debussy

Here are five complete song sets by two of the greatest masters of French song. The performers are highly competent. I should have known, given the rave reviews that their 2015 recording of modern Norwegian songs received.

Étienne-Nicolas Méhul: Uthal

The opera world barely knows how to handle works that have significant amounts of spoken dialogue. Conductors and stage directors will often trim the dialogue to a bare minimum (Magic Flute), have it rendered as sung recitative (Carmen), or have it spoken in the vernacular though the sung numbers may often be performed in the original language (Die Fledermaus).

A New Anna Moffo?: The Debut Disc of Aida Garifullina

Here is the latest CD from a major label promoting a major new soprano. Aida Garifullina is utterly remarkable: a lyric soprano who also can handle coloratura with ease. Her tone has a constant shimmer, with a touch of quick, narrow vibrato even on short notes.

Il sogno di Scipione: a new recording from Classical Opera

With this recording of Mozart’s 1771 opera, Il sogno di Scipione (Sicpio’s Dream), Classical Opera continue their progress through the adolescent composer’s precocious achievements and take another step towards the fulfilment of their complete Mozart opera series for Signum Classics.

Mozart’s Requiem: Pierre-Henri Dutron Edition

The stories surrounding Mozart’s Requiem are well-known. Dominated by the work in the final days of his life, Mozart claimed that he composed the Requiem for himself (Landon, 153), rather than for the wealthy Count Walsegg’s wife, the man who had commissioned it in July 1791.

Schumann and Mahler Lieder : Florian Boesch

Schumann and Mahler Lieder with Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau, now out from Linn Records, following their recent Schubert Winterreise on Hyperion. From Boesch and Martineau, excellence is the norm. But their Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen takes excellence to even greater levels

Hans Werner Henze : Kammermusik 1958

"....In lieblicher Bläue". Landmark new recordings of Hans Werner Henze Neue Volkslieder und Hirtengesänge and Kammermusik 1958 from the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, with Andrew Staples, Markus Weidmann, Jürgen Ruck and Daniel Harding.

Elder conducts Lohengrin

There have been dozens of capable, and more than capable, recordings of Lohengrin. Among the most-often praised are the Sawallisch/Bayreuth (1962), Kempe (1963), Solti (1985), and Abbado (1991). Recording a major Wagner opera involves heavy costs that a record company may be unable to recoup.

Premiere Recording: Mayr’s Telemaco nell’isola di Calipso (1797)

No sooner had I drafted my review of Simon Mayr’s Medea in Corinto,

A Verlaine Songbook

Back in the LP days, if a singer wanted to show some sophistication, s/he sometimes put out an album of songs by famous composers set to the poems of one poet: for example, Phyllis Curtin’s much-admired 1964 disc of Debussy and Fauré songs to poems by Verlaine, with pianist Ryan Edwards (available now as a CD from VAI).

Giovanni Simone Mayr: Medea in Corinto

The Bavarian-born Johann Simon Mayr (1763–1845) trained and made his career in Italy and thus ended up calling himself Giovanni Simone Mayr, or simply G. S. Mayr. He is best known for having been composition teacher to Giuseppe Donizetti.

Matthias Goerne: Bach Cantatas for Bass

In this new release for Harmonia Mundi, German baritone Matthias Goerne presents us with two gems of Bach’s cantata repertoire, with the texts of both BWV 56 and 82 exploring one’s sense of hope in death.  Goerne adeptly interprets the paradoxical combination of hope and despair that underpins these works, deploying a graceful lyricism alongside a richer, darker bass register.

Gramophone Award Winner — Matthias Goerne Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge

Winner of the 2017 Gramophone Awards, vocal category - Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach - Johannes Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge and other Brahms Lieder. Here is why ! An exceptional recording, probably a new benchmark.

Véronique Gens: Visions from Grand Opéra

Ravishing : Visions, Véronique Gens in a glorious new recording of French operatic gems, with Hervé Niquet conducting the Münchener Rundfunkorchester. This disc is a companion piece to Néère, where Gens sang familiar Duparc, Hahn, and Chausson mélodies.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Albert Lortzing: Zar und Zimmermann
19 Jun 2008

Mozart and Lortzing from Hamburg Opera on film

A nostalgic charm permeates these filmed productions from the early 1970s of Lortzing's Zar und Zimmerman and Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, collaborations between the Hamburg State Opera and German TV director Joachim Hess.

Albert Lortzing: Zar und Zimmermann

Peter the Great (Raymond Wolansky), Peter Ivanov (Peter Haage), Van Bett (Hans Sotin), Marie (Lucia Popp), Admiral Lefort (Herbert Fliether), Lord Syndham (Noël Mangin), Marquis de Châteauneuf (Horst Wilhelm), Widow Browe (Ursula Boese), Officer (Franz Grundheber). Ballet and Chorus of the Hamburg State Opera, The Philharmonic State Orchestra Hamburg, Charles Mackerras, conductor.

Arthaus Musik 101269 [DVD]

$29.98  Click to buy

Cinematography, hair, costumes: all are redolent of a proud stage tradition adapted - not always with subtlety - to the needs of the camera, circa 1970. In 2008, what might have seemed hopelessly dated, even musty, actually carries a sort of "toy world" appeal.

The chief drawback of most filmed opera, especially from this era, is that the intimacy and varied perspective of the camera cannot mitigate the artificiality of the sound, which not only relies on lip syncing but also maintains a consistently flat audio stage, belying the naturalistic movements of the both camera and actors. To the credit of both the Lortzing and Mozart sets, excellent conductors lead energetic performances from the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra. Charles Mackerras deals with Lortzing's perky - perhaps excessively perky - score to the comic Zar und Zimmerman with flair and good spirits. An entire opera based on a series of mistaken identities (Peter the Great has gone "undercover" to learn more about the world), Zar und Zimmerman has never really established itself outside of its home country. This video doesn't exactly make one regret that fact, but it does offer an extremely attractive cast doing their best to make the time pass pleasantly. Lucia Popp's absolutely sweet Marie stands out, with Raymond Wolansky as Peter the Great right behind her. In the tenor role of Peter Ivanov, Peter Haage's chubby male ingenue may annoy some as much as he did your reviewer.

Zauberflote_Hamburg.pngHans Sotin has the comic villain role in the Lortzing, and he reappears in Die Zauberflöte as Sarastro. Veteran Horst Stein leads an old-fashioned performance, appropriately enough for this production, directed with a disappointingly scant amount of invention by Sir Peter Ustinov. The illustrious cast included Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as the Speaker, Nicolai Gedda as Tamino, Edith Mathis as Pamina, Cristina Deutekom as the Queen of the night, and William Workman as Papageno. Their vocal contributions are all solid, but Ustinov fails to inspire them to offer more than perfunctory acting. Deutekom sings a fearsome Queen while her face remains entirely impassive. No one lip syncs all that well, but Workman in particular barely seems to be trying. The three boys compete to find pitch, with no winner. Monostatos appears in blackface. All in all, despite the camera, the opera remains stagebound and rarely shows sign of life.

The Lortzing DVD preserves a charming performance of an opera little known in the US, so it is worth a look. Fine DVDs of Die Zauberflöte, however, can easily be acquired, so anyone thinking of this set should either be a fan of the cast or a devotee of mediocre TV direction.

Chris Mullins

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):