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  • luvtennis: Cocky: While it might be a bit much to claim “legendary status” for Sayao, she was a... 1:58 PM
  • moritz: The database is correct, it was Ellen Shade who sang Florinda in all performances at the Theater an... 1:58 PM
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Bomb squad

Vienna never really forgave Erich Wolfgang Korngold for going to work in the movies. When the exiled composer returned from Hollywood after World War 2 to mount a comeback, he was dismissed as a has-been who all too eagerly cast off high art for the commercialism of the silver screen.

Korngold, it must be said, led with his chin by bringing for the occasion Die stumme Serenade (The Silent Serenade), an hybrid opera-Cabaret that mixes elements of golden age film music with high fructose arias, skittering orchestral accompaniments and other démodé effects as comforting as a serving of Mohr im Hemd. A city by then eager to turn the page and dabble in modernism sneered at the confection, sending Korngold sulking back to California, where he spent his final years miserable and in poor health. Read more »

Hothouse flower

To some, Anne Schwanewilms will always be the soprano in the slinky black dress who replaced Deborah Voigt at Covent Garden a decade ago and confirmed the creeping influence of film and television values on the opera world. Read more »

Blinded item

“Here we again see the Berlin tendency towards hybrids; the great plans but tiny realization; great demands but tiny results; perfect reviewers but miserable musicians,” Felix Mendelssohn groused to a friend in the summer of 1841 after King Friedrich Wilhelm IV invited him to become general music director in the Prussian capital and focus on writing on grand oratorios and church music.   Read more »

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Low-fat Schoenberg

With orchestral and choral forces that could outnumber a small European village, Arnold Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder is a composition designed to overwhelm.

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Sex please: we’re British

The finer performances of Tristan und Isolde have a way of sounding like a four-hour improvisation, the fruit of a single moment of inspiration that makes one forget how emotionally manipulative and painstakingly crafted the music really is.

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Brass ring

Marek Janowski’s survey of Wagner operas on PentaTone so convincingly captures the pulse and dramatic flow of many of the works that the music-making at times sounds almost effortless.

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Meadow festival

Beneath the pageantry, the paeans to German art and the self-referential allusions to the creative process, Die Meistersinger is a story about a community and human qualities like love, friendship, envy and hatred.

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Semi: Colon

The abrupt withdrawal of Katharina Wagner from an abridged seven-hour Ring cycle she was to direct at the Teatro Colon last year prompted no shortage of scorn and Schadenfreude.

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The music lovers

The curious things about accepted wisdom is that sometimes it’s correct.

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To the hilt

Marek Janowski’s second recorded Ring cycle began on an off note, with a Rheingold that was fleet and lucid but failed to impress in the important musical moments.

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