Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

The Met’s ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’ a happy marriage of ensemble singing and acting

The cast of supporting roles was especially strong in the company’s new production of Mozart’s matchless masterpiece

Syracuse Opera’s ‘Die Fledermaus’ bubbles over with fun, laughter and irresistible music

The company uncorks its 40th Anniversary season with a visually and musically satisfying production of Johann Strauss Jr.’s farcical operetta

Capriccio at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Although performances of Richard Strauss’s last opera Capriccio have increased in recent time, Lyric Opera of Chicago has not experienced the “Konversationsstück für Musik” during the past twenty odd years.

Anna Netrebko, now a dramatic soprano, shines in the Met’s dark and murky ‘Macbeth’

The former lyric soprano holds up well — and survives the intrusive close-up camerawork of the ‘Live in HD’ transmission

Arizona Opera Presents First Mariachi Opera

Houston Grand Opera commissioned Cruzar la Cara de la Luna from composer José “Pepe” Martínez, music director of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, who wrote the text together with Broadway and opera director Leonard Foglia. The work had its world premier in 2010. Since then, it has traveled to several cities including Paris, Chicago, and San Diego.

Plácido Domingo: I due Foscari, London

“Why should I go to hear Plácido Domingo” someone said when Verdi’s I due Foscari was announced by the Royal Opera House. There are very good reasons for doing so.

Philip Glass’s The Trial

Music Theatre Wales presented the world premiere of Philip Glass’s The Trial (Kafka) last night at the Linbury, Royal Opera House. Music Theatre Wales started doing Glass in 1989. Their production of Glass’s In the Penal Colony in 2010 was such a success that Glass conceived The Trial specially for the company.

Joyce DiDonato: Alcina, Barbican, London

To say that the English Concert’s performance of Handel’s Alcina at the Barbican on 10 October 2014 was hotly anticipated would be an understatement. Sold out for weeks, the performance capitalised on the draw of its two principals Joyce DiDonato and Alice Coote and generated the sort of buzz which the work did at its premiere.

Un ballo in maschera in San Francisco

The subject is regicide, a hot topic during the Italian risorgimento when the Italian peninsula was in the grip of the Hapsburgs, the Bourbons, the House of Savoy and the Pontiff of the Catholic Church.

A New Don Giovanni and Anniversary at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago opened its sixtieth anniversary season with a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni directed by Artistic Director of the Goodman Theater, Robert Falls.

Grande messe des morts, LSO

It was a little over two years ago that I heard Sir Colin Davis conduct the Berlioz Requiem in St Paul’s Cathedral; it was the last time I heard — or indeed saw — him conduct his beloved and loving London Symphony Orchestra.

Guillaume Tell, Welsh National Opera

Part of their Liberty or Death season along with Rossini’s Mose in Egitto and Bizet’s Carmen, Welsh National Opera performed David Pountney’s new production of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell (seen 4 October 2014).

Mose in Egitto, Welsh National Opera

Welsh National Opera’s production of Rossini’s Mose in Egitto was the second of two Rossini operas (the other is Guillaume Tell) performed in tandem for their autumn tour.

L’incoronazione di Poppea, Barbican Hall

In Monteverdi’s first Venetian opera, Il Ritorno d’Ulisse (1641), Penelope’s patient devotion as she waits for the return of her beloved Ulysses culminates in the triumph of love and faithfulness; in contrast, in L’incoronazione di Poppea it is the eponymous Queen’s lust, passion and ambition that prevail.

Rameau’s Les Paladins, Wigmore Hall

After the triumphs of love, the surprises: Les Paladins, under their director Jérôme Correas, and soprano Sandrine Piau are following their tour of material from their 2011 CD, ‘Le Triomphe de L’amour’, with a new amatory arrangement.

Puccini : The Girl of the Golden West, ENO London

At the ENO, Puccini's La fanciulla del West becomes The Girl of the Golden West. Hearing this opera in English instead of Italian has its advantages, While we can still hear the exotic, Italianate Madama Butterfly fantasies in the orchestra, in English, we're closer to the original pot-boiler melodrama. Madama Biutterfly is premier cru: The Girl of the Golden West veers closer, at times, to hokum. The new ENO production gets round the implausibility of the plot by engaging with its natural innocence.

Anna Caterina Antonacci, Wigmore Hall, London

Presenting a well-structured and characterful programme, Italian soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci demonstrated her prowess in both soprano and mezzo repertoire in this Wigmore Hall recital, performing European works from the early years of the twentieth century. Assuredly accompanied by her regular pianist Donald Sulzen, Antonacci was self-composed and calm of manner, but also evinced a warmly engaging stage presence throughout.

Il barbiere di Siviglia, Royal Opera

Bold, bright and brash, Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s Il barbiere di Siviglia tells its story clearly in complementary primary colours.

Gluck and Bertoni at Bampton

Bampton Classical Opera’s 2014 double bill neatly balanced drollery and gravity. Rectifying the apparent prevailing indifference to the 300th centenary of Christoph Willibald Gluck birth, Bampton offered a sharp, witty production of the composer’s Il Parnaso confuso, pairing this ‘festa teatrale’ with Ferdinando Bertoni’s more sombre Orfeo.

Purcell: A Retrospective

Harry Christophers and The Sixteen Choir and Orchestra launched the Wigmore Hall’s two-year series, ‘Purcell: A Retrospective’, in splendid style. Flexibility, buoyancy and transparency were the watchwords.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

100 Best Verdi
27 Dec 2010

100 Best Verdi from EMI Classics

New recordings of classical music don’t appear from the “big labels” very often these days, but those companies have enormous libraries from which to extract selections for compilation discs.

100 Best Verdi

Click here for tracklisting

EMI Classics 50999 6 40878 2 5 [6CDs]

$19.99  Click to buy

Rather like an enormous body builder flexing his muscles before a crowd of scrawnier types, EMI Classics lords it over other “skinny boy” labels that might put out a double-disc set, producing a line of multi-disc compilations called “Best 100.” Now it is Verdi’s turn for this disputable honor. From a back catalog rather heavy on Riccardo Muti conducting and Placido Domingo singing, it takes 6 very full discs to reach the 100 track goal, which includes some single scenes broken into 2 separate tracks. But why be pedantic. This is a lot of Verdi.

Each disc highlights a vocal genre: Tenors and Baritones, Sopranos and Mezzo-Sopranos, Duets, Ensembles, Choruses, and finally, on the instrumental side, Overtures and Ballet Music. Listened to continuously, each disc tends to reach a saturation point several tracks in, with either male or female voices dominating. Almost any of Verdi’s operas shows a sure command of laying out the narrative through a variety of musical approaches and vocal types. Almost 80 minutes of “ensembles,” for example, can become too much of a good thing, like a one-pound box of chocolates which turns out to be all “Cherry Jubilee.” Anyone with no audio-purist objections to MP3 players would do well to take the discs, upload them to a computer music library, and listen to the compilation in a more random fashion.

As suggested above, certain names pop up fairly often - Placido Domingo gets three tracks on disc one and pops up a few more times on other discs. He opens the set with “Celeste Aida,” from the Aida set conducted by Riccardo Muti, whose extensive catalog gets quite the showcase throughout. Your reviewer would have chosen Franco Corelli’s verison of that aria and then later on the disc, when Corelli fairly mauls “Quando le sere al placido,” put Domingo’s version in that place. While an enjoyable diversion, picking apart the selections is a vain endeavor. Anyone with the broad knowledge of the catalog for such a game probably owns all the sets needed to make one’s own compilation. For the audience this set is made for, all the choices are at least decent (depending on one’s taste) and many more are better than that. Some of the juxtapositions are fascinating - with Maria Callas’s vehement “Ritorna Vincitor!,” sung by an Aida seemingly on the edge of a nervous breakdown, followed immediately by Montserrat Caballe’s exquisite, tastefully mournful “O Patria mia.” By the end of disc 6, the listener emerges from 7 hours of Verdi stunned by the immensity of the man’s genius - and probably needing a break of some duration before returning to it.

EMI Classics provides absolutely nothing other than a booklet of track listings and credits. For the beginner who has happened upon this set, surely a brief biographical note and possibly some suggested reference texts would have been helpful.

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):