Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

ETO Autumn 2020 Season Announcement: Lyric Solitude

English Touring Opera are delighted to announce a season of lyric monodramas to tour nationally from October to December. The season features music for solo singer and piano by Argento, Britten, Tippett and Shostakovich with a bold and inventive approach to making opera during social distancing.

Love, always: Chanticleer, Live from London … via San Francisco

This tenth of ten Live from London concerts was in fact a recorded live performance from California. It was no less enjoyable for that, and it was also uplifting to learn that this wasn’t in fact the ‘last’ LfL event that we will be able to enjoy, courtesy of VOCES8 and their fellow vocal ensembles (more below …).

Dreams and delusions from Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper at Wigmore Hall

Ever since Wigmore Hall announced their superb series of autumn concerts, all streamed live and available free of charge, I’d been looking forward to this song recital by Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper.

Henry Purcell, Royal Welcome Songs for King Charles II Vol. III: The Sixteen/Harry Christophers

The Sixteen continues its exploration of Henry Purcell’s Welcome Songs for Charles II. As with Robert King’s pioneering Purcell series begun over thirty years ago for Hyperion, Harry Christophers is recording two Welcome Songs per disc.

Treasures of the English Renaissance: Stile Antico, Live from London

Although Stile Antico’s programme article for their Live from London recital introduced their selection from the many treasures of the English Renaissance in the context of the theological debates and upheavals of the Tudor and Elizabethan years, their performance was more evocative of private chamber music than of public liturgy.

Anima Rara: Ermonela Jaho

In February this year, Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho made a highly lauded debut recital at Wigmore Hall - a concert which both celebrated Opera Rara’s 50th anniversary and honoured the career of the Italian soprano Rosina Storchio (1872-1945), the star of verismo who created the title roles in Leoncavallo’s La bohème and Zazà, Mascagni’s Lodoletta and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

A wonderful Wigmore Hall debut by Elizabeth Llewellyn

Evidently, face masks don’t stifle appreciative “Bravo!”s. And, reducing audience numbers doesn’t lower the volume of such acclamations. For, the audience at Wigmore Hall gave soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn and pianist Simon Lepper a greatly deserved warm reception and hearty response following this lunchtime recital of late-Romantic song.

Requiem pour les temps futurs: An AI requiem for a post-modern society

Collapsology. Or, perhaps we should use the French word ‘Collapsologie’ because this is a transdisciplinary idea pretty much advocated by a series of French theorists - and apparently, mostly French theorists. It in essence focuses on the imminent collapse of modern society and all its layers - a series of escalating crises on a global scale: environmental, economic, geopolitical, governmental; the list is extensive.

The Sixteen: Music for Reflection, live from Kings Place

For this week’s Live from London vocal recital we moved from the home of VOCES8, St Anne and St Agnes in the City of London, to Kings Place, where The Sixteen - who have been associate artists at the venue for some time - presented a programme of music and words bound together by the theme of ‘reflection’.

Iestyn Davies and Elizabeth Kenny explore Dowland's directness and darkness at Hatfield House

'Such is your divine Disposation that both you excellently understand, and royally entertaine the Exercise of Musicke.’

Ádám Fischer’s 1991 MahlerFest Kassel ‘Resurrection’ issued for the first time

Amongst an avalanche of new Mahler recordings appearing at the moment (Das Lied von der Erde seems to be the most favoured, with three) this 1991 Mahler Second from the 2nd Kassel MahlerFest is one of the more interesting releases.

Paradise Lost: Tête-à-Tête 2020

‘And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven … that old serpent … Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.’

Max Lorenz: Tristan und Isolde, Hamburg 1949

If there is one myth, it seems believed by some people today, that probably needs shattering it is that post-war recordings or performances of Wagner operas were always of exceptional quality. This 1949 Hamburg Tristan und Isolde is one of those recordings - though quite who is to blame for its many problems takes quite some unearthing.

Joyce DiDonato: Met Stars Live in Concert

There was never any doubt that the fifth of the twelve Met Stars Live in Concert broadcasts was going to be a palpably intense and vivid event, as well as a musically stunning and theatrically enervating experience.

‘Where All Roses Go’: Apollo5, Live from London

‘Love’ was the theme for this Live from London performance by Apollo5. Given the complexity and diversity of that human emotion, and Apollo5’s reputation for versatility and diverse repertoire, ranging from Renaissance choral music to jazz, from contemporary classical works to popular song, it was no surprise that their programme spanned 500 years and several musical styles.

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields 're-connect'

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields have titled their autumn series of eight concerts - which are taking place at 5pm and 7.30pm on two Saturdays each month at their home venue in Trafalgar Square, and being filmed for streaming the following Thursday - ‘re:connect’.

Lucy Crowe and Allan Clayton join Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO at St Luke's

The London Symphony Orchestra opened their Autumn 2020 season with a homage to Oliver Knussen, who died at the age of 66 in July 2018. The programme traced a national musical lineage through the twentieth century, from Britten to Knussen, on to Mark-Anthony Turnage, and entwining the LSO and Rattle too.

Choral Dances: VOCES8, Live from London

With the Live from London digital vocal festival entering the second half of the series, the festival’s host, VOCES8, returned to their home at St Annes and St Agnes in the City of London to present a sequence of ‘Choral Dances’ - vocal music inspired by dance, embracing diverse genres from the Renaissance madrigal to swing jazz.

Royal Opera House Gala Concert

Just a few unison string wriggles from the opening of Mozart’s overture to Le nozze di Figaro are enough to make any opera-lover perch on the edge of their seat, in excited anticipation of the drama in music to come, so there could be no other curtain-raiser for this Gala Concert at the Royal Opera House, the latest instalment from ‘their House’ to ‘our houses’.

Fading: The Gesualdo Six at Live from London

"Before the ending of the day, creator of all things, we pray that, with your accustomed mercy, you may watch over us."

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Pavarotti: The EMI Recordings
15 Mar 2009

Luciano Pavarotti: The EMI Recordings

A Decca recording artist for most of his career, Luciano Pavarotti did do a very few items with EMI, probably as part of those “artist-swapping” arrangements recording labels sometime arrange.

Pavarotti: The EMI Recordings

Luciano Pavarotti, Tenor; et al.

EMI Classics 5099951393724 [7CDs, 2DVDs]

$46.98  Click to buy

This 9-disc set (seven audio CDs and two DVDs), sad to say, comes across less as a tribute to the late tenor and more as a way for EMI to move some product. The contents of the 9 discs can be conveyed quickly. Pavarotti’s recording of Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz, with Mirella Freni, last appeared for EMI in the company’s Great Recordings of the Century series. The 1992 LA Scala Don Carlo appears both on two DVD discs and as an audio-only version, spread over three discs. Muti conducts, as he does the 1987 Requiem, where Pavarotti is joined by Cheryl Studer, Dolora Zajick and Samuel Ramey. All told, if EMI had limited the package to the audio tracks where only Pavarotti sings, the set might barely require two discs.

Each disc comes in its own sleeve, with artwork identical to the set’s cover, making identification of any particular item difficult. The relatively skimpy booklet has an honest but otherwise routine essay by Michael Scott Rohan, and then track by track synopsis of the operas’ storylines in place of librettos. The only color photograph mislabels the Don Carlo’s Paolo Coni as Samuel Ramey’s Filippo II.

As a portrait of Pavarotti’s artistry, the set does offer the advantage of capturing him at different points in his career. The Mascagni comes from 1968, relatively early in his international stardom. Both he and Freni are in thrilling form, and along with the idiomatic conducting of Gianandrea Gavazzeni, they make L’amico Fritz entertaining enough. However, the music never blooms; as is so often the case with the opera world’s rarities, there is a reason this Mascagni opera inhabits the far outer reaches of the standard repertory. Don Carlo comes from 1992, and it is much more satisfying in its DVD incarnation. At the time, the almost requisite La Scala scandal originated in some reported booing of Pavarotti cracking. Needless to say, such an occurrence does not appear in the performance as presented here, and in fact, Pavarotti gives by far the set’s most satisfying performance. The juicy warmth of his youthful voice mellowed into a more substantial richness. His peerless enunciation allows him to be a musical actor, although his oversized physique limits his movement. Pavarotti’s face always told the story of the music, and even in 1992 he makes for a creditable, handsome prince. A young Andrea Silvestrelli sings a sonorous, imposing Monk, somewhat overshadowing the professionalism of Samuel Ramey’s unimaginative king. The middle of Daniella Dessi’s voice sounds fine, with just a hint of a vibrato that grows larger as the line rises. Her big fourth act scene starts unpromisingly, and even when she has steadied her voice it lacks beauty. Luciano d’Intino as Eboli and Paolo Coni’s Rodrigo, while adequate, give the kind of generic performances that unbalance the opera in favor of the more illustrious lead.

Franco Zeffirelli’s dark production does honor to the seriousness of the story, with only a final misstep at the very end, where an incomprehensible religious tableaux takes the place of the Monk’s ostensible rescue of the title character. Ricardo Muti glowers as expected, and also as expected leads a tightly-wound performance, exciting at times, relentless at others.

Thankfully, he relaxes - relatively speaking - for the Requiem. The music of repose comes across beautifully, with fine contributions from the La Scala chorus. Oddly, the “Dies irae,” taken at a fairly fast pace, comes across as more irritated that wrathful. This may not be the most famous of recorded Requiem’s, but all of the singers excel. Studer perhaps never sounded better, entirely feminine and secure. Zajick and Ramey can unleash their formidable instruments when needed, and also sing with subtlety. And Pavarotti sounds fine for 1987, his instantly recognizable timbre blending well with the other soloists’ voices.

EMI’s “special limited edition” might just be a marketing gambit, but any fans of the tenor who do not have these recordings should be glad to find them conveniently boxed, if they can hunt down the texts elsewhere.

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):