Cher Public

Awakenings

There is a simple elegance to the single-composer recital album format. For the listener in the mood for, say, Puccini, it’s a chance to delve into his music without any pesky interruptions by those other guys like Verdi or Massenet. And if one is also in the mood for a particular singer’s art, then the choice is even more straightforward.

For the singer, it is an opportunity to showcase and explore the variety and nuance that a single composer offers to his/her voice type, while also displaying his/her own skill at presenting a varied recital experience within narrow confines.   Read more »

A desert breeze whispering a lullaby

The studio opera recording is a rare beast these days and its arrival always a cause for celebration. Its rarity also raises the stakes and invites scorn when the casting is dubious. Few things strike greater fear in the heart of an opera lover than the dreaded Andrea Bocelli announcement as part of a recording project. (What’s the point of getting Fleming, Borodina, and D’Arcangelo into the recording studio, putting up with Gergiev’s body odour, only to have the whole project doomed from the start?)   Read more »

A fjord in her future

Anja Silja staked a claim as a leading Senta of her era with a series of searing performances of Der Fliegende Holländer while in her early twenties, including a much-praised 1961 Bayreuth outing opposite Franz Crass conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch. Now, Andromeda is offering an intriguing side-by-side comparison with a performance from that run featuring an identical cast, save for George London in the title role.
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Tony, “Danza”

Exclusively for you, the loyal parterriani, here’s a sneak preview video from Joyce and Tony: Live at Wigmore Hall.

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A ‘Ring’ for the rest of us

I was once accused—by my own mother, mind you!—of having too many recordings of Verdi’s Aida.  The blistering audacity of that recrimination did get me to thinking: How many recordings of Aida is too many? I mean, you’ve got the old classic you cut your teeth on. Then there’s he one where the tenor and the mezzo are really the only good thing going. And, of course, the one with your favorite soprano in the title role, the remake when she switched labels, and then the four pirates. Don’t forget the one with another favorite soprano, but this time she’s […]

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d’Arc victory

Tonight’s program at the New York Philharmonic, Arthur Honegger’s massive oratorio dramatique Jeanne d’Arc au Bûcher, has been an occasional visitor to the orchestra’s repertoire starting with the performance conducted by Charles Munch in January of 1948.

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“Less filling”

“Disciplined and intelligent.”

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Crown jewel

I’m a long-time fan of the Opera in English series funded by The Peter Moores Foundation that started, fittingly enough, with conductor Reginald Goodall’s performances of Wagner’s Ring cycle recorded live from the London Coliseum and released by EMI

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Between the dragon and his wrath

Aribert Reimann’s 1978 opera Lear, based of course on Shakespeare’s titanic tragedy King Lear, is a major achievement in modern operatic scoring.

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A monster, without being a myth

Before this recording arrived in my mailbox, I: ( a) didn’t know there was an operatic version of Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, one of my favorite plays; and (b) was unfamiliar with the works of composer Gerald Berry.  After several hearings, I’m still not convinced that there is an operatic version of Earnest.  Barry has created what I would call a narrative set to a series of sound effects.  Now many of these effects are clever, occasionally amusing, and purposely bizarre, but they rarely seem to fit the brilliant verbal wit of Wilde’s original.  I kept thinking that, […]

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