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Thread: Weber's Oberon

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    Default Weber's Oberon

    I'm completely unfamiliar with this opera, aside from an aria I heard today on Pandora, and subsequently listening to the overture on Youtube, both of which I liked quite a bit. Looking through our recommended opera lists, it hasn't made its way into the top 130 thus far, but whether this is due to unfamiliarity or a lack of quality I don't know.
    So, a few questions for anyone who might be familiar with this work: Is it worth buying, and if so which version? Sadly there doesn't seem to be any dvd versions available, but there are two audio versions,

    which is in the original English

    and

    in a German translation

    Any comments, information, recommendations are appreciated!
    -Ian

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Oberon is one of the biggest gaps in my exposure. Up to recently I didn't even know it was in English. So, I can't help. I'll be watching this space for other people's comments, as well. My guess given that I don't like opera in translation and given the conductor and the band in your first option is that Sir Gardiner will get the upper hand.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    You know, this is a very beautiful, but difficult opera to stage, even to record.

    The first difficulty is of course the dialogues, and the non singing characters. This was the original idea of Weber, and he thought to change to recitative, but his death prevented him for doing that. So, in some performances there are recitatives, in others dialogues, or, like in Toulouse this year (a nice performance, by the way, and easy to find the radio broadcast in mp3) just a narrator...

    The second, and most important, is how difficult is to cast the two protagonists, Huon and Rezia.

    To me, those two points are more important than choosing between english or german (or a small surprise for you, at the end of the post).

    Of the recordings you mentioned, the Kubelik is by far the better one, just because of the fantastic singing by Domingo (it's difficult to find a better Domingo on record), and an always solid, though rather inexpressive, Nilsson. And Kubelik's orchestra is a beauty.

    However, if you want to listen to an english version, let's go for the Gardiner's.

    A couple of "rarities" that will greatly increase your pleasure once you are already familiar with the opera:

    There is a 1937 recording, conducted by Joseph Keilberth, in German, with two outstanding singers: Helge Rosvaenge and Margarete Teschemacher, in my view the best Huon (Rosvaenge beats Domingo just by a hair width) and Rezia (wish we could get Ponselle, that sung the role on the MET premiere, preserved on tape too) on record. However, there are important cuts, and some alterations, so it's not the best version for your first Oberon.

    Also, there is a version in Italian, with a truly magnificent Anita Cerquetti.

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    Senior Member MAuer's Avatar
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    I have the Gardiner version, and can recommend it. The dialogue here is replaced with a narrator, which does help keep the plot moving. The cast is top-notch, starting with Kaufmann's Huon and Martinpelto's Reiza (this is the original spelling of her name, which is changed in German-language versions because of its similarity to the verb "reizen," meaning to annoy, tease, provoke, or anger . . . or arouse, which is probably what made the censors twitchy). And both of these individuals can sing idiomatic English, which is more than can be said for Domingo's attempts at singing German. (I love Domingo -- but find listening to his German a real trial.) William Dazeley and Marina Comparato are delightful as Sherasmin and Fatima, Huon's squire and Reiza's maid, respectively, and Steve Davislim's lighter tenor (in the role of the title character) is a pleasant contrast to Kaufmann's spinto tones.

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    Many thanks to schigolch for your intersting + informative post and likewise to MAuer for your info and recommendation. I think I'm going to order the English language Gardiner version.
    -Ian

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    I was not aware that this opera was available in English. So, the English is original and the German is a translation? Interesting. This opera only came up onto my radar because I was looking for operas with Vesselina Kasarova. So, if I get it I would be biased towards this one. Anyone have this? How is it?
    Last edited by SixFootScowl; Jun-15-2017 at 12:41.
    “Then he will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!'" Matthew 25:41 (Christian Standard Bible)

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    Senior Member Sloe's Avatar
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    What I mostly think of is that it is an opera by a German composer in England named after a moon discovered by another German composer in England.

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    So, the English is original and the German is a translation?
    It's getting even more mysterious.

    The English-language libretto is based on the German poem Oberon of Christoph Martin Wieland, which in itself was based on the epic romance Huon de Bordeaux, a French medieval tale.
    Last edited by Pugg; Jun-17-2017 at 05:33.

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    So where is the benefit? The Kaufmann set or the Kasarova set? I like them both. Too bad they are not on the same set. But I think you will hear more Kaufmann on that set than you will Kasarova on the other set, just because her part is smaller overall. Do I have that correctly figured out?

    I put the Kasarova Oberon on my Christmas List, but my family does not like to buy music for me. They all think I have too much music already.
    Last edited by SixFootScowl; Nov-28-2017 at 07:16.
    “Then he will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!'" Matthew 25:41 (Christian Standard Bible)

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    There is also an EMI Classics version with two heldentenors, Ben Heppner and Gary Lakes singing, respectively, Hüon and Oberon. Deborah Voigt is in fresh, splendid voice as Rezia. This version is auf Deutsch. James Conlon conducts the Köln Philharmonic and the Gürzenich Orchestra (you've heard of them, right?).

    Kind regards,

    George

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    Senior Member Taplow's Avatar
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    I also cast my vote for the Gardiner. I find that it really works very well with a narrator, and the cast is fine if not great (hard to imagine what the perfect cast for this might be). Gardiner has a light touch that suits the music extremely well, and he approaches the score with the kind of reverence one might approach a period performance of a lost Handel opera. The singers, too, don't overdo it, with clear diction and feeling for the language.

    Oberon is relatively popular in German-speaking countries, popping up every now and then. There was a production here in Munich the season before last. I missed it, unfortunately, but would much rather see it sung in English.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barelytenor View Post
    There is also an EMI Classics version with two heldentenors, Ben Heppner and Gary Lakes singing, respectively, Hüon and Oberon. Deborah Voigt is in fresh, splendid voice as Rezia. This version is auf Deutsch. James Conlon conducts the Köln Philharmonic and the Gürzenich Orchestra (you've heard of them, right?).

    Kind regards,

    George

    This is an unusual one, I read Weber died before he could finalize Oberon, and that this recording is of a version that was updated by Mahler.
    https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/weber-oberon-1
    “Then he will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!'" Matthew 25:41 (Christian Standard Bible)

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    Senior Member SenaJurinac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taplow View Post
    Oberon is relatively popular in German-speaking countries, popping up every now and then. There was a production here in Munich the season before last. I missed it, unfortunately, but would much rather see it sung in English.
    For some time it was possible to see the recording of that Munich production in the "Mediatheque" of Franco-German arts TV channel ARTE:

    German version https://www.arte.tv/de/videos/arte-concert/klassik/

    or French https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/arte-concert/classique/

    It can still be seen here: http://klassikundopern.web.tv/video/...7__23q0ifzmnxa

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    Interesting, that the last link above would not provide any audio on my Bose speakers. I tried another link from the Homepage ...web.tv site, Angela Gheorgiu singing Verdi, Puccini, etc. The first aria was the Aida "Rintorna vincitor" ending in "Numi pieta." The voice sounds totally broken, pushed, many tones in the higher and middle registers an entire half step flat, a terrible transition into the raw-sounding chest voice, terrible (no) phrasing, seemingly no effective support. What happened to her!!! She used to sound so lovely.

    Ah, now the Oberon link is working fine aurally. I only made it through Gheorgiu's first aria. Painful!

    Kind regards,

    George
    Last edited by Barelytenor; Nov-29-2017 at 13:41.

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    That web.tv is based in Turkey, how it seems, of all places, how much i could figure out - so don't expect technologcal miracles

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