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Thread: What opera are you currently listening to / watching? CD/DVD

  1. #13021
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VitellioScarpia View Post
    I would say devastating. This performance is my favorite Butterfly recording as it builds the journey of the story until the end where instead of keeping the listener to the perimeter of Butterfly's tragedy, Callas suddenly pulls you inside Cio-Cio-san's pain with the emotional explosion of Tu, tu? Piccolo Iddio.

    The intensity that she unfurls with per te, pei tuoi puri occhi mour Butterfly is comparable to some of the phrases in the 1952 Gioconda. It is all the more shattering because it is the only time in the whole opera when Callas sounds like Callas, the great dramatic soprano who channels through purely vocal and musical means all the suffering and desolation a human being can experience. Again, devastatingly beautiful.
    Of all recordings of Butterfly, this is the one that raises the opera to the status of real tragedy. Callas's performance is conceived in a single sweep, revealing details we never usually notice. I disagree with those who say Gedda was not a good choice for Pinkerton. He fits perfectly into the overall design. I never think of Pinkerton as an evil cad, just a young, thoughtless lad, who doesn't consider the consequences of his actions till it's too late. Karajan conducts a much more intensely dramatic performance here as well, less inclined to wallow than he is in his acclaimed Decca recording.

    There are other recordings of the opera I enjoy, chief among them being the earlier De Los Angeles recording, with Di Stefano and Gobbi making more out of Sharpless than anyone, and the Scotto/Barbirolli, but neither of them is quite so devastatingly intense. My only problem is that I find it so searingly moving that I can't listen to it too often, rather like Callas's Covent Garden Traviata and Janet Baker singing the Abschied in Kubelik's Das Lied von der Erde, all recordings I reserve for very special occasions.

    Still feeling the impact of that devastating final chord in the opera, I believe devoutly that Madama Butterfly is the most moving of all works for the stage, that this is the best recording of it, and that it is Callas’s greatest achievement on records
    John Steane in Gramophone.
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; May-24-2020 at 11:27.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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  3. #13022
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Prelude and Act I. I think Götterämmerung is my favourite of the cycle.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    On picture: Wagner: Götterdämmerung, Bayreuth Festival 1952, Joseph Keilberth
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    Of all recordings of Butterfly, this is the one that raises the opera to the status of real tragedy. Callas's performance is conceived in a single sweep, revealing details we never usually notice. I disagree with those who say Gedda was not a good choice for Pinkerton. He fits perfectly into the overall design. I never think of Pinkerton as an evil cad, just a young, thoughtless lad, who doesn't consider the consequences of his actions till it's too late. Karajan conducts a much more intensely dramatic performance here as well, less inclined to wallow than he is in his acclaimed Decca recording.

    There are other recordings of the opera I enjoy, chief among them being the earlier De Los Angeles recording, with Di Stefano and Gobbi making more out of Sharpless than anyone, and the Scotto/Barbirolli, but neither of them is quite so devastatingly intense. My only problem is that I find it so searingly moving that I can't listen to it too often, rather like Callas's Covent Garden Traviata and Janet Baker singing the Abschied in Kubelik's Das Lied von der Erde, all recordings I reserve for very special occasions.

    John Steane in Gramophone.
    Your words resonate with me. Also, I did not know the Steane quote you provided. It is very interesting to me as it succinctly verbalizes how I end up when I listen to this specific recording. I believe that it is a bigger achievement than the 1953 Tosca.

    The suicide is both an act of generosity for Trouble but an act of defiance and self-assertion: Cio-Cio-san as the daughter of a samurai takes on a samurai ritual to restore her honor. This is not an hysterical woman as it may mistakenly be misinterpreted. It is all very clear in Puccini's music as it ends with the mikado theme with a discordant final chord, a chord of rebellion asserting the self. There is nothing sugary about her death. Callas and Karajan understood this so very well.

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VitellioScarpia View Post
    Your words resonate with me. Also, I did not know the Steane quote you provided. It is very interesting to me as it succinctly verbalizes how I end up when I listen to this specific recording. I believe that it is a bigger achievement than the 1953 Tosca.

    The suicide is both an act of generosity for Trouble but an act of defiance and self-assertion: Cio-Cio-san as the daughter of a samurai takes on a samurai ritual to restore her honor. This is not an hysterical woman as it may mistakenly be misinterpreted. It is all very clear in Puccini's music as it ends with the mikado theme with a discordant final chord, a chord of rebellion asserting the self. There is nothing sugary about her death. Callas and Karajan understood this so very well.
    Steane's review was so on point, I feel it's worth quoting it here in its entirity,

    Perhaps the Editor should impose what the Industrial Relations people call a cooling-off period. Still feeling the impact of that devastating final chord in the opera, I believe devoutly that Madama Butterfly is the most moving of all works for the stage, that this is the best recording of it, and that is in Callas's greatest achievement on records. The morning after may bring a hesitation or two, but at present belief seems firm as Butterfly's own and a good deal more securely grounded.

    Like every other artist worthy of playing the role, Callas presents the development of the woman from the child. Where she is unusual, if not unique is that she takes no exterior view of Cio-Cio-San (which then presents a pretty, childlike vulnerability), but enters the girl and finds there not the weakness of childhood but the strength. There is a natural childlike shyness (''Ieri son salita'' a touchingly private confession), a natural childlike impulsiveness (''Nessuno si confessa''), as well as hurt (''mi maledice'') and trust (''e felice''). But the keynote is firmness of mind: a simple factuality which sees right and wrong with the clarity of that miraculously rinsed and lightened voice. Everything here is in place. For instance, in ''Un bel di'' where, in his review of the recording when it first came out, Alec Robertson found the expectancy of ''Chi sara?'' too casual, Callas feels the strength of the whole utterance as residing in the calm of certainty: Butterfly is retelling what she so often has seen in her mind, and she tells it with the clarity and factual sureness of a child, exact over the details of a favourite story.

    Mention of AR reminds me that he was not entirely happy about Gedda as Pinkerton: ''It is perfectly clear from the moment he opens his mouth that Mr Gedda would not hurt a flea, let alone a Butterfly... This considerably alters the dramatic balance of the opera''. But I think that this is part of a common misconception which sees Pinkerton as a brash, brutish character, whereas he is what his music is: namely, in Act 1, charming, graceful, tender and fervent (that such a person can behave as he does is at the centre of the opera's tragic force). Gedda characterizes him faithfully, and sings with a sweetness that entirely explains why such strong-minded girl as this should so trust him. Borriello, too, is a better than average Sharpless, Lucia Danieli a very adequate Suzuki, and several of the minor parts are notably well cast, including Yamadori, who should sound as though he could sing Pinkerton (his music tells us so) and who in the second Karajan recording (Decca) sounded as though he would be hard pressed to sing Goro.

    It was interesting to come back to this EMI set with the Decca Karajan/Freni/Pavarotti version as a recent memory. Despite many excellences, the 1974 recording proved something of a disappointment on returning to it, principally because the foreground was so insistently occupied by the conductor, who too deliberately held out the score and its texture for admiring examination. In this earlier EMI recording he is splendid: I hardly noticed him. In his review, AR said that Karajan had brought to his view many details of the score which he had never previously observed, and I daresay that if he had heard the refurbished sound on CD he would have found still more: but the conductor's is a relatively unassertive presence here, and aurally the stage is the foreground as it is visually in the theatre.

    On two CDs instead of three for the Decca, the set has another advantage over its immediate rival. The change of disc in Act 2 is somewhat abrupt but greatly preferable to most arrangements that were common among the LP albums. The only sad thing is that in this instance they had muffed the timing of take-over from the LP's Side 3 to Side 4, where the orchestra's fortissimo must follow Butterfly's ''M'ha scordata?'' more promptly. Small fault, and not (even the morning after) cooling off any of the critical ardours proclaimed above.'
    The small faults he mentions have been corrected in the Warner issue, the break between the two sides being now at a more sensible place. In all other respects his review is a model.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    Steane's review was so on point, I feel it's worth quoting it here in its entirity,

    The small faults he mentions have been corrected in the Warner issue, the break between the two sides being now at a more sensible place. In all other respects his review is a model.
    Thank you for sharing the Steane's review as I enjoyed reading it. Very perceptive about Pinkerton as he is not intentionally a villain but he becomes one by being deaf to Cio-Cio-san and letting his biases occlude the ability to really see who she is. Pinkerton, if anything, is a halfwit who could see beyond his own nose (an idiot in the full sense of the word).

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    Senior Member SixFootScowl's Avatar
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    Last edited by SixFootScowl; May-25-2020 at 05:33.
    "Life is too short to spend it wandering in the barren Sahara of musical trash."
    --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  14. #13028
    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Il Trovatore DVD with Del Monaco, Bastianini and Gencer (Previtali). Finally an Il Trovatore production where the romance actually makes sense and all the leads are amazing, particularly Bastianini and MDM. I feel MDM was truly on stage better than in most studio recordings.

    Then I listened to this without libretto (a heresy, I know) but it sounds very fun and Callas was amazing as usually:


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    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    instagram @granateclasico

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    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Granate View Post
    Is this your own album art? Looks truly amazing!

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    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by annaw View Post
    Is this your own album art? Looks truly amazing!
    Yes it is. I made all of the Bayreuth 1976 two and half years ago. Nothing original. Just following the Philips composition but without illustration.
    instagram @granateclasico

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    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Granate View Post
    Yes it is. I made all of the Bayreuth 1976 two and half years ago. Nothing original. Just following the Philips composition but without illustration.
    How's the performance itself? I'm trying to decide whether buy anything from OperaDepot sale or not . Was also considering Mödl/Vinay 1959 Den Haag Tristan.
    Last edited by annaw; May-25-2020 at 11:06.

  23. #13033
    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by annaw View Post
    How's the performance itself? I'm trying to decide whether buy anything from OperaDepot sale or not . Was also considering Mödl/Vinay 1959 Den Haag Tristan.
    Light voices of the protagonists, a strong Brangane and Kurwenal, heavily dramatic conducting in superb sound without cuts. I think to remember that the real fireworks were in Act III.
    instagram @granateclasico

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  25. #13034
    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Granate View Post
    Light voices of the protagonists, a strong Brangane and Kurwenal, heavily dramatic conducting in superb sound without cuts. I think to remember that the real fireworks were in Act III.
    Comfirming it right now. Act III is the real deal. I don't remember if Karajan was so intense in this Act back in 1952 (not the style of the EMI recording for good reasons anyway).
    instagram @granateclasico

  26. #13035
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    Quote Originally Posted by Granate View Post
    Yes it is. I made all of the Bayreuth 1976 two and half years ago. Nothing original. Just following the Philips composition but without illustration.
    Where do you get your backgrounds?
    Follow me on Instragam: figaro_under_the_moonlight.

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