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

John Joubert's Jane Eyre

Librettists have long mined the literature shelves for narratives that are ripe for musico-dramatic embodiment. On the whole, it’s the short stories and poems - The Turn of the Screw, Eugene Onegin or Death in Venice, for example - that best lend themselves to operatic adaptation.

Through Life and Love: Louise Alder sings Strauss

Soprano Louise Alder has had an eventful few months. Declared ‘Young Singer of the Year’ at the 2017 International Opera Awards in May, the following month she won the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.

A Master Baritone in Recital: Sesto Bruscantini, 1981

This is the only disc ever devoted to the art of Sesto Bruscantini (1919–2003). Record collectors value his performance of major baritone roles, especially comic but also serious ones, on many complete opera recordings, such as Il barbiere di Siviglia (with Victoria de los Angeles). He continued to perform at major houses until at least 1985 and even recorded Mozart's Don Alfonso in 1991, when he was 72.

Emalie Savoy: A Portrait

Since 1952, the ARD—the organization of German radio stations—has run an annual competition for young musicians. Winners have included Jessye Norman, Maurice André, Heinz Holliger, and Mitsuko Uchida. Starting in 2015, the CD firm GENUIN has offered, as a separate award, the chance for one of the prize winners to make a CD that can serve as a kind of calling card to the larger musical and music-loving world. In 2016, the second such CD award was given to the Aris Quartett (second-prize winner in the “string quartet” category).

Detlev Glanert : Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch

Detlev Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch should be a huge hit. Just as Carl Orff's Carmina Burana appeals to audiences who don't listen to early music (or even to much classical music), Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch has all the elements for instant popular success.

A Falstaff Opera in Shakespeare’s Words: Sir John in Love

Only one Shakespeare play has resulted in three operas that get performed today (whether internationally or primarily in one language-region). Perhaps surprisingly, the play in question is a comedy that is sometimes considered a lesser work by the Bard: The Merry Wives of Windsor.

A Resplendent Régine Crespin in Tosca

There have to be special reasons to release a monophonic live recording of a much-recorded opera. Often it can give us the opportunity to hear a singer in a major role that he or she never recorded commercially—or did record on some later occasion, when the voice was no longer fresh. Often a live recording catches the dramatic flow better than certain studio recordings that may be more perfect technically.

Karine Deshayes’s Astonishing New Rossini Recording

Critic and scholar John Barker has several times complained, in the pages of American Record Guide, about Baroque vocal recitals that add instrumental works or movements as supposed relief or (as he nicely calls them) “spacers.”

Knappertsbusch’s Only Recording of Lohengrin Released for the First Time

Hans Knappertsbusch was one of the most renowned Wagner conductors who ever lived. His recordings of Parsifal, especially, are near-legendary among confirmed Wagnerians.

Kathleen Ferrier Remembered

Kathleen Ferrier Remembered, from SOMM Recordings, makes available on CD archive broadcasts of British and German song. All come from BBC broadcasts made between 1947 and 1952. Of the 26 tracks in this collection, 19 are "new", not having been commercially released. The remaining seven have been remastered by sound restoration engineer Ted Kendall. Something here even for those who already own the complete recordings.

Color and Drama in Two Choral Requiems from Post-Napoleonic France

The Requiem text has brought out the best in many composers. Requiem settings by Mozart, Verdi, and Fauré are among the most beloved works among singers and listeners alike, and there are equally wondrous settings by Berlioz and Duruflé, as well as composers from before 1750, notably Jean Gilles.

Matthias Goerne - late Schumann songs, revealed

Matthias Goerne Schumann Lieder, with Markus Hinterhäuser, a new recording from Harmonia Mundi. Singers, especially baritones, often come into their prime as they approach 50, and Goerne, who has been a star since his 20's is now formidably impressive. The colours in his voice have matured, with even greater richness and depth than before.

LALO and COQUARD: La Jacquerie

La Jacquerie—here recorded for the first time—proves to be a wonderful opera, bringing delight upon delight.

Urania Remasters Marriage of Figaro

Good news for lovers of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro: the famous Living Stereo recording, a co-production of RCA Victor and English Decca, is now available again, well remastered, on Urania.

Opera Rara: new recording of Bellini's Adelson e Salvini

In May 2016, Opera Rara gave Bellini aficionados a treat when they gave a concert performance of Vincenzo Bellini’s first opera, Adelson e Salvini, at the Barbican Hall. The preceding week had been spent in the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios, and this recording, released last month, is a very welcome addition to Opera Rara’s bel canto catalogue.

Jonas Kaufmann : Mahler Das Lied von der Erde

Jonas Kaufmann Mahler Das Lied von der Erde is utterly unique but also works surprisingly well as a musical experience. This won't appeal to superficial listeners, but will reward those who take Mahler seriously enough to value the challenge of new perspectives.

The "Lost" Songs of Morfydd Owen

A new recording, made late last year, Morfydd Owen : Portrait of a Lost Icon, from Tŷ Cerdd, specialists in Welsh music, reveals Owen as one of the more distinctive voices in British music of her era : a grand claim but not without foundation. To this day, Owen's tally of prizes awarded by the Royal Academy of Music remains unrivalled.

Early Swedish opera - Stenhammer world premiere

The Feast at Solhaug : Henrik Ibsen's play Gildet paa Solhaug (1856) inspired Wilhelm Stenhammer's opera Gillet på Solhaug. The world premiere recording is now available via Sterling CD, in a 3 disc set which includes full libretto and background history.

Walter Braunfels Orchestral Songs Vol 2

Honours yet again to Oehms Classics who understand the importance of excellence. A composer as good, and as individual, as Walter Braunfels deserves nothing less.

The Tallis Scholars: Josquin's Missa Di dadi

‘Can great music be inspired by the throw of the dice?’ asks Peter Phillips, director of The Tallis Scholars, in his liner notes to the ensemble’s new recording of Josquin’s Missa Di dadi (The Dice Mass). The fifteenth-century artist certainly had an abundant supply of devotional imagery. As one scholar has put it, during this age there was neither ‘an object nor an action, however trivial, that [was] not constantly correlated with Christ or salvation’.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Giuseppe Verdi: Il Trovatore (highlights)
29 Jul 2008

Verdi on Classics for Pleasure, Opera Highlights

With these three CDs of highlights from three Verdi operas - Nabucco, Il Trovatore, and Aida — Classics for Pleasure gives a snapshot of the arc of his career.

Giuseppe Verdi: Il Trovatore (highlights)

Corelli, Tucci, Simionato, Merrill, Moneta, Mazzoli, Mercuriali, Rinaudo, Rome Opera House Chorus & Orchestra, Thomas Schippers

Classics for Pleasure (EMI) 393 3752 [CD]

£3.97  Click to buy

The composer’s first big success, Nabucco breathes fire in its lead soprano role, while elsewhere highlighting darker male voices. Il Trovatore, famously said to require the ‘world’s four best singers,’ bursts with so much melody that a highlights set seems like false economy. With Aida, the darker psychology and sharp orchestral color that would blossom in Otello and Falstaff appears.

CFP_Nabucco.pngRenata Scotto’s impassioned Abigaille dominates the Ricardo Muti-led Nabucco. In fact, Matteo Manuguerra in the title role is not heard until track 6, an ensemble at the end of part two. Perhaps CfP should have retitled the disc “Abigaille.” Scotto’s tendency toward some wiriness in her high notes plays to her advantage here, underscoring the character’s fierceness and ego. In the major bass role of Zaccaria, Nicolai Ghiaurov provides the other substantial voice to make this set worthy. Veriano Luchetti and Elena Obraztsova sing the roles of the young lovers, but the tenor and mezzo only briefly appear in the selections CfP provides. Muti, typically for him, drives the music with intensity and exactness, an approach that sometimes pushes excitement over insight.

CfP fills the Il Trovatore highlights disc with 70 minutes of music, and still it feels too brief. Surely the soldier’s chorus could have been included? That quibble aside, a set as exciting, if occasionally manic, as this, should make any Verdi lover ask for more. Conductor Schippers does set some brisk tempos, but the visceral impact cannot be denied. Franco Corelli in his prime dominates the set, a truly heroic sound, not just in volume but in sheer masculine tone. Gabriella Tucci , in a rare plum recording assignment, sings an imposing Leonora, feminine and yet with a core of strength. Robert Merrill may not be in best form here - the “Il balen” starts off somewhat stiffly - but the imposing quality of the instrument continues to satisfy. Rounding out a fine cast, Giuletta Simionato’s Azucena not only has the requisite tension and edge but also many moments of great beauty. On the assumption that finding the complete set of this recording may be difficult, lovers of this opera should find a way to grab this highlights disc.

CFP_Aida.pngThe Aida CD starts abruptly with Corelli’s emphatic delivery of the recitative to “Celeste Aida.” There has been some controversial over the diminuendo on the aria’s final note, but whether it was a trick of the knobs or authentic, the excitement generated is not fake. In 65 minutes, this highlights disc can’t truly capture the expansive greatness of the opera - despite the inclusion of the confrontations scenes between Aida and her father, and then that between Radames and Amneris. CfP goes in for longer slices, with only 10 tracks. It’s good to hear Birgit Nilsson’s Aida, her power wielded with tact and more than enough suggestion of pathos in her voice too (although sometimes that takes the form of suspect intonation).

Aida’s confrontation with Amneris is one victim of the music selections, which is particularly unfortunate considering how fine Grace Bumbry is in the role. Mario Sereni as Aida’s father makes less of an impression. Zubin Mehta leads the Rome opera forces in a performance as outsized as his two leads’ voices.

Your reviewer strongly recommends the Il Trovatore, but the other two sets have much worth hearing as well.

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):