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 Reviews

A Merry Falstaff in San Diego

On February 21, 2017, San Diego Opera presented Giuseppe Verdi’s last composition, Falstaff, at the Civic Theater. Although this was the second performance in the run and the 21st was a Tuesday, there were no empty seats to be seen. General Director David Bennett assembled a stellar international cast that included baritone Roberto de Candia in the title role and mezzo-soprano Marianne Cornetti singing her first Mistress Quickly.

New Production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute at Lyric Opera, Chicago

In Neil Armfield’s new production of Die Zauberflöte at Lyric Opera of Chicago the work is performed as entertainment on a summer’s night staged by neighborhood children in a suburban setting. The action takes place in the backyard of a traditional house, talented performers collaborate with neighborhood denizens, and the concept of an onstage audience watching this play yields a fresh perspective on staging Mozart’s opera.

A Salome to Remember

Patricia Racette’s Salome is an impetuous teenage princess who interrupts the royal routine on a cloudy night by demanding to see her stepfather’s famous prisoner. Racette’s interpretation makes her Salome younger than the characters portrayed by many of her famous colleagues of the past. This princess plays mental games with Jochanaan and with Herod. Later, she plays a physical game with the gruesome, natural-looking head of the prophet.

L’Elisir d’Amore Goes On Despite Storm

On February 17, 2017 Pacific Opera Project performed Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore at the Ebell Club in Los Angeles. After that night, it can be said that neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night can stay this company from putting on a fine show. Earlier in the day the Los Angeles area was deluged with heavy rain that dropped up to an inch of water per hour. That evening, because of a blown transformer, there was no electricity in the Ebell Club area.

Boris Godunov in Marseille

There has been much reconstruction of Marseille’s magnificent Opera Municipal since it opened in 1787. Most recently a huge fire in 1919 provoked a major, five-year renovation of the hall and stage that reopened in 1924.

Garsington Opera Announces Extended Season: 1 June to 30 July 2017

For the first time in its history, this summer Garsington Opera will present four productions as well as a large community opera. 2017 also sees the arrival of the Philharmonia Orchestra for one opera production each season for the next five years.

Glyndebourne Festival 2017: White Cube artist Rachel Kneebone to exhibit new work

New work by the English artist Rachel Kneebone will be exhibited at Glyndebourne Festival 2017, which opens for public booking on 5 March. The London-based artist has created three new sculptures inspired by two of the operas being staged at the Festival this summer - Cavalli’s Hipermestra and a new opera based on Hamlet by composer Brett Dean and librettist Matthew Jocelyn.

Bartoli a dream Cenerentola in Amsterdam

With her irresistible cocktail of spontaneity and virtuosity, Cecilia Bartoli is a beloved favourite of Amsterdam audiences. In triple celebratory mode, the Italian mezzo-soprano chose Rossini’s La Cenerentola, whose bicentenary is this year, to mark twenty years of performing at the Concertgebouw, and her twenty-fifth performance at its Main Hall.

Winterreise : a parallel journey

Matthew Rose and Gary Matthewman Winterreise: a Parallel Journey at the Wigmore Hall, a recital with extras. Schubert's winter journey reflects the poetry of Wilhelm Müller, where images act as signposts mapping the protagonist's psychological journey.

Anna Bolena in Lisbon

Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, composed in 1830, didn’t make it to Lisbon until 1843 when there were 14 performances at its magnificent Teatro São Carlos (opened 1793), and there were 17 more performances spread over the next two decades. The entire twentieth century saw but three (3) performances in this European capital.

Oh, What a Night in San Jose

It is difficult to know where to begin to praise the stunning achievement of Opera San Jose’s West Coast premiere of Silent Night.

Billy Budd in Madrid

Like Carmen, Billy Budd is an operatic personage of such breadth and depth that he becomes unique to everyone. This signals that there is no Billy Budd (or Carmen) who will satisfy everyone. And like Carmen, Billy Budd may be indestructible because the opera will always mean something to someone.

A riveting Nixon in China at the Concertgebouw

American composer John Adams turns 70 this year. By way of celebration no less than seven concerts in this season’s NTR ZaterdagMatinee series feature works by Adams, including this concert version of his first opera, Nixon in China.

English song: shadows and reflections

Despite the freshness, passion and directness, and occasional wry quirkiness, of many of the works which formed this lunchtime recital at the Wigmore Hall - given by mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge, pianist James Baillieu and viola player Guy Pomeroy - a shadow lingered over the quiet nostalgia and pastoral eloquence of the quintessentially ‘English’ works performed.

A charming Pirates of Penzance revival at ENO

'Nobody does Gilbert and Sullivan anymore.’ This was the comment from many of my friends when I mentioned the revival of Mike Leigh's 2015 production of The Pirates of Penzance at English National Opera (ENO). Whilst not completely true (English Touring Opera is doing Patience next month), this reflects the way performances of G&S have rather dropped out of the mainstream. That Leigh's production takes the opera on its own terms and does not try to send it up, made it doubly welcome.

A Relevant Madama Butterfly

On Feb 3, 2017, Arizona Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s dramatic opera Madama Butterfly. Sandra Lopez was the naive fifteen-year-old who falls hopelessly in love with the American Naval Officer.

Johan Reuter sings Brahms with Wiener Philharmoniker

In the last of my three day adventure, I headed to Vienna for the Wiener Philharmoniker at the Musikverein (my first time!) for Mahler and Brahms.

Gatti and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Head to Asia

In Amsterdam legend Janine Jansen and the seventh Principal Conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw, Daniele Gatti, came together for their first engagement in a ravishing performance of Berg’s Violin Concerto.

Verdi’s Requiem with the Berliner Philharmoniker

I extravagantly scheduled hearing the Berliner, Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Wiener Philharmoniker, to hear these three top orchestra perform their series programmes opening the New Year.

Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher in Lyon

There is no bigger or more prestigious name in avant-garde French theater than Romeo Castellucci (b. 1960), the Italian metteur en scène of this revival of Arthur Honegger’s mystère lyrique, Joan of Arc at the Stake (1938) at the Opéra Nouvel in Lyon.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
15 Mar 2009

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Soprano

This DVD contains the contents of four televised recitals of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, with no way of telling from the information provided whether the recitals are presented complete or not.

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Gerald Moore

Medici Arts 3085268 [DVD]

$19.99  Click to buy

As the last section on this disc, from Brussels in 1969, only features two selections (two pleasant but negligible Menotti songs), making assumptions on the completeness of the others wouldn’t be advised.

The best part of the disc comes in the first half of its 90 minutes, with two television studio recitals filmed in London; the first from 1961 in black and white, the second from 1970, in color. With famed accompanist Gerald Moore (who throws in a sly bit of self-promotion at one point by asking, “Am I too loud?”), placing these two recitals back to back gives a point of reference for relating to Schwarzkopf’s late career. In 1961, the voice and manner combine seamlessly in a professional, disciplined performance. In place of spontaneity comes a poised, well-rehearsed artistry. The selections tend to the lighter side here, opening with a slight Mozart number (“Die kleine Spinnerin”), through Schubert’s “An die Musik,” and closing with two Hugo Wolf selections. Nine years later, Schwarzkopf opens up, braving some English spoken interludes, and moving about the studio, making sure to shift her chiffon-type dress with every change of stance. She begins again with Mozart, but initially the passing years can be heard in some slight intonation lapses and warbliness. As the recital proceeds, the voice settles. However, the affectations that non-admirers of Schwarzkopf complain about interfere at times, with too-knowing a wink here, too downcast a glance there. Taken together, both recitals still serve as a classic portrait of how to present and sing lieder, in a way that respects the tradition and manages to connect to an audience.

The next recital, from Paris in 1967, finds Schwarzkopf with the Orchestre National de l’ORTF, conducted by one Berislav Klobucar. If it weren’t for the date and grainy black and white footage, some viewers might suppose this recital came after the 1970 London one. Schwarzkopf is simply not in good voice. Whatever slips in intonation appeared in those London recitals are minor compared to some very painful notes here, and often the voice lacks support. Again, Mozart begins the recital, with two numbers also sung in the 1970 recital (“Männer suchen sets zu naschen” and “Ich möchte wohl der kaiser sein”). Schwarzkopf can manage these numbers well enough, relying on charm and the folksy simplicity of the melodies. She then moves to challenge of Verdi’s scene for Desdemona from Otello. Here Schwarzkopf over-emotes, as if to cover for the breathy line and attenuated top notes. Six Richard Strauss orchestral songs follow, but the glow and security of the voice does not return. Perhaps the effort required to project over the orchestral background exacerbates the compromised state of her voice, but Klobucar seems to be keeping the orchestra in balance (though the playing isn’t much to be admired, especially in the Verdi).

Medici Arts chose a portrait of the singer from her younger years for the cover of the DVD. Confusingly, the contents listing on the back cover is arranged by composer rather than in the order actually presented. Then the booklet track listing doesn’t link the selections to track numbers, to facilitate quick location. On the positive side, subtitles are provided.

Fans will want this, of course, but anyone who appreciates fine lieder singing will appreciate the 1961 recital, surely, as well as the chance to compare it to the 1970 one for an understanding of how an established artist can maintain control late into the career. Think of the regrettable Paris concert and two songs from Brussels as insubstantial addenda.

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):