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Thread: Most beautiful operatic duet

  1. #31
    Senior Member Celloman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marschallin Blair View Post
    The Act II love duet from Tristan - take your pick.

    The Mozart is absolutely gorgeous- to be sure. For me its like having a crush on someone in the third grade.

    But the Wagner is like the unavoidable gravitational pull of irrepressiblly falling heads-over-heels in love and lust.
    I really like one of those.
    More cowbell!
    .....-Gustav Mahler

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  3. #32
    Senior Member Diminuendo's Avatar
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    One of my favorites is the second act duet from Un balllo in maschera between Amelia and Riccardo. Especially when sung by Callas and Di Stefano. Absolutely fantastic. All of their duets are so magnificent.
    "First I sing loud. When I start to run out of breath I sing softer" Giuseppe Di Stefano on his Faust high c diminuendo

  4. #33
    Senior Member Marschallin Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    I have no problem with Tristan apart from the fact it is over long for the subject material. Wagner certainly wrote beautiful music. What he lacked is the unerring subtlety of Mozart to take your breath away with a phrase.
    No, Wagner merely does it with one chord- the 'Tristan chord.'
    "Let me have my own way in exactly everything, and a sunnier and more pleasant creature does not exist." - Thomas Carlyle

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  6. #34
    Senior Member Marschallin Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celloman View Post
    I really like one of those.
    Which one?

    The Furtwanger Act II Tristan music is god to me.

    The Karajan is utterly gorgeous- if a bit too relaxed.
    "Let me have my own way in exactly everything, and a sunnier and more pleasant creature does not exist." - Thomas Carlyle

  7. #35
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marschallin Blair View Post
    No, Wagner merely does it with one chord- the 'Tristan chord.'
    Oh come off it! Nothing like the beauty of Mozart!

  8. #36
    Senior Member Celloman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marschallin Blair View Post
    Which one?

    The Furtwanger Act II Tristan music is god to me.

    The Karajan is utterly gorgeous- if a bit too relaxed.
    Furtwangler '52 all the way. I leap into the glorious deluge and it pulls me gently down into the depths...
    More cowbell!
    .....-Gustav Mahler

  9. #37
    Senior Member Marschallin Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celloman View Post
    Furtwangler '52 all the way. I leap into the glorious deluge and it pulls me gently down into the depths...
    Furtwangler's caressings are so perfectly balanced and nuanced that it literally gives me shivers, a lump in my throat, and waters up my eyes.

    Flagstad levels me every time.

    Cheers.
    "Let me have my own way in exactly everything, and a sunnier and more pleasant creature does not exist." - Thomas Carlyle

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  11. #38
    Senior Member SiegendesLicht's Avatar
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    Does this:



    sound tuneful or not? If not, then maybe this is really not "your" opera (and I would never put you down for "not getting it").

    I need willpower to tear myself away from this when it is late after midnight on workdays, and I need to get up the next day.
    ... yet for us will still remain the holy German art... (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg)
    ***
    God gave all men all earth to love,
    But since our hearts are small,
    Ordained for each one spot should prove
    Beloved over all.
    R. Kipling

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  13. #39
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    I have no problem with Tristan apart from the fact it is over long for the subject material. Wagner certainly wrote beautiful music. What he lacked is the unerring subtlety of Mozart to take your breath away with a phrase.
    If only Mozart could achieve epic grandeur, frightening intensity, and sheer sensual ecstasy as often as Wagner can take my breath away with a phrase! Beauty is more than perfect phrases - but Tristan's "Liebesnacht," to my mind, simply piles gorgeous phrase upon gorgeous phrase. Mozart's phrases are, of course, more symmetrically balanced and closed in form, not embedded in the same orchestrally rich, harmonically complex, polyphonic fabric as Wagner's. Mozart's melodic phrases are the focus of our attention because, most of the time, there is nothing else to focus on. That's not a criticism; in fact, in a style of such simplicity it's critical for inspiration to be high in order to avoid banality. Mozart's was high, no question. And in this duet he achieves the same sort of perfect childlike innocence he does in Zauberflote.

    I'm with those who'd call this Mozart "pretty" - very pretty indeed, of its kind as lovely as can be. Prettiness is a kind of "domesticated" beauty, designed to charm but not to disturb us or alter our perceptions; beauty is a category which includes prettiness but much more as well, and Mozart himself elsewhere explores the farther reaches of that category. And so I'd answer the question "Has anyone written anything more beautiful" with a "Yes, many people have - including Mozart."
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jun-18-2015 at 18:31.

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    Senior Member Figleaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiegendesLicht View Post
    Does this:

    sound tuneful or not? If not, then maybe this is really not "your" opera (and I would never put you down for "not getting it").

    I need willpower to tear myself away from this when it is late after midnight on workdays, and I need to get up the next day.
    Yes it does- not tuneful in the sense of 'hummable', but it would be perverse to criticise music for that so long as it has other things to offer. Most of the excerpts from Tristan I'd heard (random bits, no idea which part of the opera they were from) were much more stentorian than that and sounded like two people screaming at each other, but that duet is beautiful. It probably helps that recently I've been listening to the kind of fin de siecle music which is influenced by Wagner to a greater or lesser degree, like Faure's Penelope or d'Indy's Fervaal: perhaps I just need to approach Wagner sideways, as it were.

    My ten year old really liked your youtube link (which I had to play aloud as my son has nicked my headphones) and she even improvised a dance routine to go with it.

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  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    If only Mozart could achieve epic grandeur, frightening intensity, and sheer sensual ecstasy as often as Wagner can take my breath away with a phrase! Beauty is more than perfect phrases - but Tristan's "Liebesnacht," to my mind, simply piles gorgeous phrase upon gorgeous phrase. Mozart's phrases are, of course, more symmetrically balanced and closed in form, not embedded in the same orchestrally rich, harmonically complex, polyphonic fabric as Wagner's. Mozart's melodic phrases are the focus of our attention because, most of the time, there is nothing else to focus on. That's not a criticism; in fact, in a style of such simplicity it's critical for inspiration to be high in order to avoid banality. Mozart's was high, no question. And in this duet he achieves the same sort of perfect childlike innocence he does in Zauberflote.

    I'm with those who'd call this Mozart "pretty" - very pretty indeed, of its kind as lovely as can be. Prettiness is a kind of "domesticated" beauty, designed to charm but not to disturb us or alter our perceptions; beauty is a category which includes prettiness but much more as well, and Mozart himself, elsewhere explores the farther reaches of that category. And so I'd answer the question "Has anyone written anything more beautiful" with a "Yes, many people have - including Mozart."
    Mozart was the master of balanced asymmetry. The melody in this duet is a prime example: the four-bar ritornello phrase of the intro becomes the main melody, which is in two phrases, one of four bars and one of six. We'd also be amiss to overlook the wonderful counterpoint of the bass line and inner voices, which do far more than simply outline the harmony and give us plenty else to focus on.

    Of course the music doesn't have the same kind of chromatic harmony of Wagner. In fact, the whole is almost entirely devoid of any accidentals whatsoever. Criticizing him for lacking this kind of beauty seems as pointless as criticizing Wagner for lacking the far richer post-tonal harmony of a Debussy or Schoenberg, which has its own beauties that Wagner lacks.

  17. #42
    Senior Member SiegendesLicht's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Headphone Hermit View Post
    In my opinion, the answer is 'yes'

    I love 'Nuit d'ivresse' from 'Les Troyens' ..... well, you did ask!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTsciFAGhUw
    That was beautiful, thank you!
    ... yet for us will still remain the holy German art... (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg)
    ***
    God gave all men all earth to love,
    But since our hearts are small,
    Ordained for each one spot should prove
    Beloved over all.
    R. Kipling

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  19. #43
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    For one of the most beautiful duets that probably most of you never heard of, check this one out. Gorgeous song performed by 2 current best Baroque soloists (and my muses): Ann Hallenberg & Karina Gauvin. I'm still waiting with bated breath that this gorgeous opera to be performed somewhere.

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  21. #44
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Figleaf View Post
    Yes it does- not tuneful in the sense of 'hummable', but it would be perverse to criticise music for that so long as it has other things to offer. Most of the excerpts from Tristan I'd heard (random bits, no idea which part of the opera they were from) were much more stentorian than that and sounded like two people screaming at each other, but that duet is beautiful. It probably helps that recently I've been listening to the kind of fin de siecle music which is influenced by Wagner to a greater or lesser degree, like Faure's Penelope or d'Indy's Fervaal: perhaps I just need to approach Wagner sideways, as it were.

    My ten year old really liked your youtube link (which I had to play aloud as my son has nicked my headphones) and she even improvised a dance routine to go with it.
    Wagner comes close to embracing the extremes in the different styles of melody he employs. The early operas have lots of clear-cut tunes of traditional closed form. Increasingly he pursues a freer kind of melody akin to the "arioso" of Baroque opera, falling somewhere between aria and recitative, with the flexibility to develop into either. Wagner called his mature melodic style "endless melody," and always insisted on "Italian style" singing (bel canto in the 19th-century sense) from his interpreters, telling them "my operas contain no recitatives; it's all arias."

    This duet from Tristan shows perfectly that concept of "endless melody," with the voices tracing clear, beautiful melodic lines which don't close upon themselves like traditional arias but remain open-ended and transition into each other. Even in his more "stentorian" passages this remains Wagner's general approach to the vocal line, and singers err when they fail to find the melody and fail to bind the notes together on a firm foundation of legato. The great Wagner singers knew how to meet this challenge: Frida Leider, Franz Volker, Lotte Lehmann, Friedrich Schorr, Kirsten Flagstad, Lauritz Melchior, Elisabeth Grummer - you can add to the list. Needless to say, there are passages in Tristan that pose challenges few singers can meet, and at certain moments "people screaming at each other" is probably the best we can expect (but then try Strauss's Elektra to put that into perspective!).
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jun-18-2015 at 19:36.

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  23. #45
    Senior Member SiegendesLicht's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Figleaf View Post
    My ten year old really liked your youtube link (which I had to play aloud as my son has nicked my headphones) and she even improvised a dance routine to go with it.
    Maybe you have a Wagnerian-in-the-making there, and in another ten years she will be blasting this music at full volume for you
    ... yet for us will still remain the holy German art... (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg)
    ***
    God gave all men all earth to love,
    But since our hearts are small,
    Ordained for each one spot should prove
    Beloved over all.
    R. Kipling

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