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Thread: Vocal recitals.

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    Senior Member Barelytenor's Avatar
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    ^Has anyone done this? Is it on the level? I got to Download and then hesitated ... it appears fine and is a Zip file, 143 MB ... but I don't know this company ...

    Any techies out there have advice?

    Kind regards,

    George

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    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barelytenor View Post
    ^Has anyone done this? Is it on the level? I got to Download and then hesitated ... it appears fine and is a Zip file, 143 MB ... but I don't know this company ...

    Any techies out there have advice?

    Kind regards,

    George
    This is absolutely legit no catch, you get the best available live Callas Collection of arias along with fabulous pdf booklet for free, do not hesitate priceless collection.....the title says it all

    "soprano assoluta"

    Greg would not steer us wrong, great description of tracks we salute you......
    Last edited by DarkAngel; Jun-13-2019 at 13:39.

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barelytenor View Post
    ^Has anyone done this? Is it on the level? I got to Download and then hesitated ... it appears fine and is a Zip file, 143 MB ... but I don't know this company ...

    Any techies out there have advice?

    Kind regards,

    George
    I have and it’s absolutely above board.

    Divina is a reputable site run by a Callas enthusiast. I’ve also bought CDs from him and the transfers are first rate. Really. Don’t hesitate.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Thanks to you both. I shall proceed.

    Kind regards,

    George

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    Whilst not free, this would be my favourite collection of Callas live recitals. A lot of the material here is the same as on the Divina Records free download, but I prefer the sound of this edition (I think the Divina is taken from the original RAI discs, whereas this was recorded from a radio broadcast and doesn't have the surface noise on the discs). In addition Callas' voice can be heard in far finer detail here (although the CD set is out of print so may be difficult to track down). It's probably worth having both unless you aren't into downloads as there is some material that is only on one or other of the two.

    Callas - Rai.jpg

    N.
    Last edited by The Conte; Jun-13-2019 at 14:49.

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    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    ^^^^ That was off my radar Conte, the free Divina Collection however has a few more tracks and infinitely better booklet


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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
    ^^^^ That was off my radar Conte, the free Divina Collection however has a few more tracks and infinitely better booklet
    Another reason to get both!

    It was Res who gave me the tip about the Gala release (who else?) and the sound is something superb.

    The Proch track on this release that isn't on the Soprano Assoluto has been released by Divina on another disc and the first Cetra recordings are best heard on the Warner 2014 remaster. However, for the RAI recitals this is an essential release.

    N.

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post


    This is a superb compendium of recordings taken from live concerts given by Callas between 1949 and 1959. It is being offered as a FREE download (yes, you read that right, free) from Divina Records, so surely there can be no reason not to snap it up while you still can. The sound, while hardly state of the art, is not bad for the period, all of the performances having been taken from radio broadcasts. Taken from BJR LPs, transfers are up to Divina’s usual high standards and the download comes with an excellent pdf of the booklet which accompanied the original release.

    The first track is actually her first 78 recording, made for Cetra in 1949, a beautiful performance of Casta diva and Ah bello a me ritorna, though without the opening and linking recitatives in which Callas always excelled. The aria is ideally floated, the scales and coloratura in the cabaletta stunning in their accuracy. We next turn to a radio concert recorded for Turin radio in 1952, with Oliviero de Fabritiis conducting. Callas was obviously out to demonstrate her versatility, and was also trying out for size a couple of roles she would sing later that year, Lady Macbeth and Lucia. To Lady Macbeth’s Letter Scene and the first part of Lucia’s Mad Scene, she adds Abigaille’s Ben io t’invenni from Nabucco and the Bell Song from Lakmé. She is in stupendous voice in all, the high E in the Bell Song ringing out here much more freely than it does in the 1954 recording. Not only is the singing technically stunning, but the contrasts she affords as she switches from the powerfully ambtious Lady Macbeth, to the sweet and maidenly Lucia, from the demonically triumphal Abigaille to the improvisatory story-telling of Lakmé are simply out of this world. You really don’t hear singing like this nowadays.

    Next we move to a 1954 Milan concert, starting with her justly famous and technically brilliant recording of Constanze’s Martern aller Arten from Die Entführung aus dem Serail (sung here in Italian as Tutte le torture), her one Mozart stage role. Not only does she execute the difficulties with ease, she sounds properly defiant. It is a thrilling performance. Louise’s Depuis le jour (sung in French) suits her less well, and the performance is marred by occasional unsteadiness. Nonetheless it is hard to resist the quiet intensity of her intent. Armida’s D’amore al dolce impero from Rossini’s opera is, like the Mozart, stunningly accomplished, even if some of the more daring variations from the Florence complete performances have been trimmed down. The bravura of the singing is still unparalleled. The last item from this concert is Ombra leggiera from Meyerbeer’s Dinorah, a rather empty piece, which is hardy worth her trouble, though it improves on the studio recording with the addition of the opening recitative and the contribution of a chorus. Her singing is wonderfully accomplished, the echo effects brilliantly done, but it is not a piece I enjoy.

    Another Milan concert, this time from 1956, brings us her best ever performance of Bel raggio lusinghier from Semiramide, though she adds little in the way of embellishment and the effect is less thrilling than her singing of the Armida aria. We get her first version of Ophélie’s Mad Scene from Hamlet (sung here in Italian rather than the original French of the studio recording), which is superb, it’s disparate elements brilliantly bound together. We also have a beautiful performance of Giulia’s Tu che invoco from La Vestale, which seques into a rousing performance of the cabaletta, and she revisits the role of Elvira in I Puritani with a lovely performance, with chorus and soloists, of Vieni al tempio.

    From Athens in 1957, there is a dramatically exciting performance of Leonora’s Pace, Pace from La Forza del Destino, in which she manages the pitfalls of the piano top B on invan la pace better than you would expect for post diet Callas. Her performance of Isolde’s Liebestod (again in Italian) is very similar to the Cetra recording, warm and feminine, passionately yearning.

    From the 1958 Paris Gala we have her minxish Una voce poco fa from Il Barbiere di Siviglia, with its explosive ma, as Rosina warns us she is not to be messed with. She sings in the mezzo key with added higher embellishments. This is followed by a couple of lesser known performances from a UK TV special, conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent. Mimi’s Si mi chiamano Mimi is similar to the performance on the complete recording, charming and disarming, whilst Margarita’s L’altra notte from Mefistofele is a touch more vivid, a little less subtle than the studio recording.

    Just one item from the 1958 rehearsal for the Dallas Opera inaugural concert, the Mad Scene from I Puritani. Though, by 1958, Callas’s voice had been showing signs of deterioration, Bellini’s music still suits her admirably, and she sounds in easy, secure voice here up to a ringing top Eb at its close. The scale work is as supple as ever, and she executes its intricacies with ease even when singing at half voice.

    To finish off we have the Mad Scene from the 1959 Carnegie Hall concert performance of Il Pirata. It had been a variable evening, with Callas’s colleagues hardly in her class, but here, left alone on the stage, Callas responds to the challenges of the final scene superbly, the cavatina, in which she spins out the cantilena to incredible lengths, becomes a moving lament to her son, and the dramatic cabaletta is then thrillingly flung out into the auditorium. The audience unsurprisingly go berserk.

    How lucky we are to have these wonderful live performances preserved in sound, and how grateful we are to Divina Records for offering them to us free of charge. Nobody need hesitate.

    https://www.divinarecords.com/bjr143/bjr143.html
    Oh yes indeed. I got this on a previous recommendation. Brilliant and free. Shouldn't be missed by anyone.
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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Sylvia Sass shot to stardom at the age of 25 after singing the role of Griselda in a 1975 Covent Garden production of Verdi’s I Lombardi which also starred José Carreras. Decca were quick to sign her up and her first recital LP (one side of Puccini, one of Verdi) followed in 1977. A further opera recital followed in 1979 and finally in 1981 a recital of songs by Liszt and Bartók, in which she got to sing in her native Hungarian. She also appeared on Solti’s recordings of Don Giovanni (as Donna Elvira) and Bluebeard’s Castle and on the Philips recording of Stiffelio. She was hailed as the new Callas and, like others saddled with the epithet before her, her international stardom was short-lived, though she continued to sing in opera (though mostly in Hungary) until 1995 and made many records for Hungaraton.

    From the very first notes of Turandot’s In questa reggia it is clear that this is a singer with a personality, always aware of the dramatic possibilities of the music. The voice can caress, but equally it has bite and power and the top can glare when singing at full tilt. The four Puccini heroines given here (Turandot, Tosca, Manon and Butterfly) emerge as distintinctively different characters, which isn’t always the case in a Puccini recital. There is also much that is fine in the Verdi items, the Sleepwalking Scene from Macbeth being particularly good, but here we notice a tendency, also evident in the Puccini items, for there to be too great a gap between her loud and soft singing, where the loud singing can take on a strident, squally edge that contrasts too greatly with the almost disembodied purity of her soft singing.

    By the time of the second recital this tendency to veer from ultra soft to ultra loud has become more pronounced, even more noticeable when singing live. I remember seeing her as Norma at Covent Garden in 1980 and you could hardly hear her when she was singing quietly. Not that the second recital doesn’t have its attractions. Lady Macbeth continues to be impressive, and there are some lovely moments in the Il Trovatore aria, with its spectacularly floated high D.

    The 1981recital of Liszt and Bartók songs, with András Schiff at the piano, is rather impressive. Sass brings vivid personality to and drama to a song like Liszt’s Die Loreley, as well as a beautiful, comforting quality to Kling leise, mein Lied. She also makes musical sense of Bartók’s sometimes angular vocal lines, brilliantly supported by Schiff’s superb playing of the difficult piano accompaniments.

    It is a great shame Sass never really fulfilled the promise of her early successes, but these discs serve to remind us why people found her so exciting when she first burst onto the scene and receive a qualified recommendation from me.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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  18. #100
    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Listened to the new recital by Reneé Fleming doing Brahms, Schumann and Mahler. It's very good but, and this may be me or the recording itself, I feel there's a strange colourlessness to her voice, almost like it has been bleached and its lost some of its warm overtones. Again it might just be me or the engineering. If any one else has heard this I'm interested in your thoughts.
    Last edited by Barbebleu; Jun-20-2019 at 19:53.
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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    This was Katia Ricciarelli's debut recital, released in 1972 when she would have been 26. For this 1991 CD release, BMG added two items from a duet recital with Domingo, made at the same time.

    Ricciarelli had an illustrious career and prolific recording career, but, it always seems to me, has never enjoyed the acclaim of her slightly older Italian contemporaries, Mirella Freni and Renata Scotto. She perhaps asked a little more of her essentially lyrical voice than it would deliver but, unlike singers like Sass and Souliotis, she was intelligent enough to later drop some of her dramatic roles in favour of more lyric fare. Her Turandot might have been ill advised but, like Sutherland's, it was confined to the studio.

    This Verdi disc catches her at her peak singing, for the most part, a selection of unfamiliar arias from Giovanna d'Arco, I Masnadieri, Jérusalem, Il Corsaro and I Vespri Siciliani as well as arias from Otello, Il Trovatore and Don Carlo, plus duets from Un Ballo in Maschera and Otello with Domingo.

    The voice is a beautiful one and she is an imaginative singer, responsive to mood and text, but there are occasions when her legato is not as good as one might wish. If one were to compare her performance here of Medora's Non so le tetre immagini with a late one by Callas, made in 1969, it is to find that, despite Callas's by this time waning resources, the long line is maintained, the wide intervals bound more closely together, where Ricciarelli can be a little angular. Nor is Ricciarelli's coloratura technique as clean as Callas's. One is grateful for the beauty of the tone and her dramatic involvement, nonetheless.

    Ricciarelli is a singer I have come to appreciate more with the passing of the years. I heard her live a few times, on the last occasion at a concert at the Barbican when her voice was probably past its best. The programe consisted mainly of bel canto arias, and I remember well her outstanding singing of Giulietta's Oh quante volte, so good that it held the audience in rapt silence. She was forced to repeat the aria as an encore at the end of the night.

    She is always musical, always alert to the drama, always imaginative and this Verdi disc is a good reminder of her excellence in the field. There are very few sopranos singing today who could touch her in this repertoire.
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Jun-21-2019 at 11:33.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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  21. #102
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    These days, with Domingo's sometimes less successful forays into the baritone repertoire, it is easy to forget just how amazing his career was, not to mention how long it has lasted. This two disc set is a composite of three recitals made in 1968, 1971 and 1972 when Domingo (27 at the time of the first disc) was already an experienced artist, having first appeared on stage at the age of sixteen and singing his first major role (Alfredo) in 1961 at the age of 20.

    The earliest of these recitals, which was given the title Romantic Arias heralded the arrival of a major artist, not only a tenor but a musician. The repertoire is wide ranging, taking in music from Handel to Mascagni and he sings in Italian, French, German and Russian. I can't think of many tenors, even from the golden age of 78s, who could sing Puccini and Mascagni with so much passion and yet give us a wonderfully accomplished Il mio tesoro from Don Giovanni, the longest run sung cleanly and accurately and not only spun out in a single breath but phrased through into the next statement of the opening tune. The only other tenor I've come across who manages it as well is John McCormack. In all, whether it be in Lohengrin's Narration or Lensky's aria, sung in Russian, his singing is musical and immaginative. If we were to nitpick, it might be to note that, especially in the Italian items, there is a lack of excitement, of real intensity. Both are qualities he later added, along with his fine acting that served to make him the best Otello to be heard for many years. So he may not thrill in the manner of a Franco Corelli, but could Corelli have ever embraced such a wide range of differing music styles with such musicality and sensibility? I dount it very much. So let's be grateful for what we have.

    The second disc entitled Domingo sings Caruso is less wide ranging, most of the arias more well known, though it does include an aria for Marcello from Leoncavallo's version of La Bohème, and the third La Voce d'Oro, an apt description of the golden tone that pours forth. Again one might note that his singing can be a little generic, but his musical sensibilities are always evident. Nor does he ever indulge in the vulgar mannerisms of some who preceded him. His singing is always tasteful, his musical manners impeccable.

    To the three recitals, BMG have added two Leoncavallo arias (another from La Bohème and one from Chatterton) which were originally included as fill-ups for his recording of I Pagliacci under Nello Santi. Both are attractive pieces, wonderfully sung by Domingo.

    Looking at Domingo's website I see his calendar is still pretty full, with engagements, both singing and conducting, booked up to November next year. It is a remarkable achievement for a man approaching his eighties. There is no doubt the promise of these early recitals has been not only fulfilled but surpassed. Now that we have said goodbye to Domingo the tenor, now might be a good time to go backto these early recitals and remember just how good he was.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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  23. #103
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    A four disc set that collects together all five of Leontyne Price's Prima Donna recital records proves to be a variable pleasure.

    Full review on my blog https://tsaraslondon.wordpress.com/2...na-collection/
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    This 1997 compilation of recordings by Kathleen Ferrier was no doubt leveled at the popular Classic FM market. Not a whiff about the provenance of the various tracks, no texts or translations, nor a mention of the accompanists, amongst whom would be the illustrious name of Bruno Walter.

    There is, however, a great deal of pleasure to be had from this hotch potch of songs and arias, even if it would seem that very little thought has gone into the programming.

    Kathleen Ferrier died from cancer in 1953, at the age of 41 at the height of her career. She had made her operatic debut at Glyndebourne in 1946, creating the role of Lucretia in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia and following it with that of Orfeo in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, a role with which she was particularly associated (and indeed there are two versions of Orpheus's Lament included here, one in Italian and one in English). She also formed close associations with Sir John Barbirolli and Bruno Walter, who later wrote "I recognised with delight that here potentially was one of the greatest singers of our time." A memento of their association is included here in a thrillingly intense version of Um Mitternacht from Mahler's Rückert LIeder and of course most people will be aware of their great recording of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde.

    Ferrier, a genuine contralto of the sort that seems to have gone out of fashion today, had a voice that one most associates with a grave solemnity, suited to such pieces as Have mercy, Lord, on me from Bach's St Matthew Passion, but it could equally turn to gaiety and lightness, as it does here in such songs as Bridge's Go not happy day and the traditional song I know where I am going, both delivered with perfect, natural, unforced diction, which never impedes her natural legato. I also particularly enjoy the beautiful Quilter songs, which we rarely hear these days.

    The Handel and Bach items would get no points for authenticity today, but, if the style and voice might seem old-fashioned, her sincerity and gift for communication do not. Her singing has a way of going straight to the heart in a way that should never go out of fashion.

    There are better representations of Ferrier's art out there, but this one serves well as an introduction to a great singer, who died far too young.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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  27. #105
    Senior Member Diminuendo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post




    This 1997 compilation of recordings by Kathleen Ferrier was no doubt leveled at the popular Classic FM market. Not a whiff about the provenance of the various tracks, no texts or translations, nor a mention of the accompanists, amongst whom would be the illustrious name of Bruno Walter.

    There is, however, a great deal of pleasure to be had from this hotch potch of songs and arias, even if it would seem that very little thought has gone into the programming.

    Kathleen Ferrier died from cancer in 1953, at the age of 41 at the height of her career. She had made her operatic debut at Glyndebourne in 1946, creating the role of Lucretia in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia and following it with that of Orfeo in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, a role with which she was particularly associated (and indeed there are two versions of Orpheus's Lament included here, one in Italian and one in English). She also formed close associations with Sir John Barbirolli and Bruno Walter, who later wrote "I recognised with delight that here potentially was one of the greatest singers of our time." A memento of their association is included here in a thrillingly intense version of Um Mitternacht from Mahler's Rückert LIeder and of course most people will be aware of their great recording of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde.

    Ferrier, a genuine contralto of the sort that seems to have gone out of fashion today, had a voice that one most associates with a grave solemnity, suited to such pieces as Have mercy, Lord, on me from Bach's St Matthew Passion, but it could equally turn to gaiety and lightness, as it does here in such songs as Bridge's Go not happy day and the traditional song I know where I am going, both delivered with perfect, natural, unforced diction, which never impedes her natural legato. I also particularly enjoy the beautiful Quilter songs, which we rarely hear these days.

    The Handel and Bach items would get no points for authenticity today, but, if the style and voice might seem old-fashioned, her sincerity and gift for communication do not. Her singing has a way of going straight to the heart in a way that should never go out of fashion.

    There are better representations of Ferrier's art out there, but this one serves well as an introduction to a great singer, who died far too young.
    Ferrier is a singer who really gets you emotional. There are singers who my amaze you with their voice and then there are singers who seem to be singing and communicating just for you. Then there is Ferrier who does both. Such an amazing talent gone far too soon. The story of her last live performance completed with a fractured bone because of her cancer and standing because other singers suppoerted her so she could stand. What it must have felt to perform in agonizing pain and no this is probably the last time. Really breaks my heart when I think about it.
    "First I sing loud. When I start to run out of breath I sing softer" Giuseppe Di Stefano on his Faust high c diminuendo

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