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

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.

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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Arthaus Musik 108102
03 Aug 2014

Die Entführung aus dem Serail @ Hangar-7

We see the characters first in two boxes at an opera house. The five singers share a box and stare at the stage. But Konstanze’s eye is caught by a man in a box opposite: Bassa Selim (actor Tobias Moretti), who stares steadily at her and broods in voiceover at having lost her, his inspiration.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail at Hangar-7

A review by John Yohalem

Arthaus Musik 108 102 [Blu-Ray]

$39.99  Click to buy

Bassa Selim is a Valentino-like dress designer (“BASSA” reads the license plate on his Jeep, and his logo, “BS,” resembles the signature of a sultan). Konstanze is a supermodel (übermodel?) lured from her lover, Belmonte. Blondchen is one of the many seamstresses we see at their machines, working on the new collection. Osmin is a power-lifting major d’omo. Pedrillo works in IT. The entire production was staged for telecast in Hangar-7 of the Salzburg Airport, otherwise a museum for classic Formula 1 race cars and fancy airplanes. Pedrillo sings “Frisch zum Kampfe” in the cockpit of a fighter. “Vivat Bacchus” is sung at a cocktail bar. Ramps and labyrinths crisscross the space, and singers perform their arias while parading up, down and around, always on camera. There is a lighted runway (and four models in statuesque gowns by designer Lena Hoschek to slink along it). And the entire performance appears to be taking place in real time, for television airing, with an audience of Festival-goers following the singers around the huge space.

Somehow the airy sense of this joyful fable never evaporates under what could have seemed a heavy-handed treatment. This is very much to the credit of stage director Adrian Marthaler and video director Felix Breisach: They do not permit the high concept to crush the quicksilver charm of this ever delectable score, the forerunner and pre-echo not merely of Zauberflöte but also of Fidelio and Der Freischütz.

The success is also very much to the credit of the singers. Not only are the cameras “in their faces,” backing down ramps as they sing or intruding on them in dressing rooms, the audience is not sitting in the theater but pursues them all about the set. Too, the orchestra is not present—they’re over at Hangar-8, audible to the singers by visible earphone-microphones of the sort nowadays familiar on Broadway. Presumably, the conductor is visible on screens above the cameras, but following such a trick can’t be a usual part of the opera singer’s skill set—or not until lately. It’s probably very much a skill young singers are obliged to acquire. Too, very rarely do a singer’s eyes look inappropriately away—following the conductor—as happens so often in filmed opera. And all of them look good and act well, though Kurt Rydl, an experienced Osmin, looks neither young enough nor muscular enough for the part as here conceived.

Everybody sings well if not precisely at top star level. Désirée Rancatore (the 27-minute “bonus” film on the making of this project makes clear) was a last-minute replacement when Diana Damrau became pregnant, but she leaped at it and she carries it off, her sorrows and regrets, resisting a genuine attraction to Selim to remain true to Belmonte, visible in her expressions. One has heard more precise “Martern aller Arten”s, but this was a well-shaped performance, and her “Traurigkeit” is melting and moving.

Javier Camarena displays subtler acting chops here than in his self-consciously bumptious appearances at the Met last spring as Bellini’s Elvino and Rossini’s Don Ramiro. Too, the entire quality of the voice, which seemed Latin, almost voluptuous in Bellini and Rossini, is entirely different here, a dignified, well-proportioned German sound. Thomas Ebenstein’s Pedrillo is all grinning Viennese operetta, good-natured and sexy, though his suave tenor is of rather higher quality than operettas usually get these days. The find among the lovers, however, is Rebecca Nelsen, an American unknown to me, whose Blondchen is brilliant when she needs to scatter high spirits to the stratosphere without forfeiting a womanly beauty displayed throughout her range. A pretty woman, a fine actress, and a singer I hope to encounter in the future. The veteran Kurt Rydl, forced to sing his initial ballad while pulling weights, is grayer and less able at his assignment, Osmin—less adept at the fioritura than he was a generation ago but fiery in his torture manifestoes. Tobias Moretti acts proud but conflicted, a man who chooses not to exercise the violence his frustrated passions suggest: The controlled hero Mozart admired. Admirable as he was, one felt, as always, a regret at his having no music to display himself. Couldn’t we borrow one of the pasha’s arias from Zaide for Selim?

Hans Graf and the Camerata Salzburg revel in this wonderful score, and the flow of melodious delight is perfect for any evening’s entertainment.

John Yohalem


Cast and production information:

Desirée Rancatore, Rebecca Nelsen, Javier Camarena, Thomas Ebenstein, Kurt Rydl, Tobias Moretti. Hans Graf: Camerata Salzburg, Salzburger Bachchor “Live from Hangar-7.” Filmed at Hangar-7 of the Salzburg Airport as part of the 2013 Salzburg Festival.

Arthaus Musik 108 102 [Blu-Ray]

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):