8 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 2 - October 2011

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Old Wine, New Bottles |

Old Wine, New Bottles | Fine Old Recordings Re-ReleasedBRUCE SURTEESFado is the traditional art of singing inPortugal. The word comes from theLatin, fatum meaning Fate. The songs,while quite beautiful and moving, “relatea general sense of frustration and a uniquePortuguese fatalism.” Amália Rodrigues – TheQueen of Fado was born in Lisbon in 1920.She sang when onlyfour or five yearsold, revealing anatural talent. In1935 she became aserious amateur andin 1939 made herformal debut. In the1950s and ‘60s shewas considered theprime exponent ofPortuguese popularmusic, a celebrityappearing not onlyin Portugal butaround Europe andjust about everywhereelse includingthe USA, Japan and,of course, Brazil. She died in her sleep in1999. 15 of her songs presented in a new CDfrom ARC Music (EUCD2337) convey feelingsof “beautiful sadness” and even though Ineither speak nor understand Portuguese, Iam touched by these performances, findingthem very satisfying and settling. In 10 ofthe 15 she is accompanied by the distinctivetimbre of a guitarra portuguesa. There areno texts but the song titles are translated,including: Curse; Sad Inside; Oh! To die foryou; Yellow Breasted Sparrow; and One yearago today.SONY Classical has issued four new CDs(all Verdi) and four DVDs in their ongoingseries of notable performances from theMetropolitan Opera’s archives, newlyremastered by The Met.Marian Anderson was the first African–American artist to be given a leading roleat the Metropolitan Opera. She sang Ulricain Un Ballo in Maschera on January 7, 1955and reprised that role on the afternoon ofSaturday, December 10 in a performancethat was heard by countless millions via thelive radio broadcast. That afternoon’s stellarcast included Met regulars of the time:Zinka Milanov, Robert Merrill, RobertaPeters, Jan Peerce, Giorgio Tozzi andNorman Scott. Dimitri Mitropoulos conducted.(88697 91002, 2CDs)Il Trovatore from February 4, 1961 wasalso a gala event. Leontyne Price andFranco Corelli had made their Met debuta week earlier to wild acclaim and nowmillions in the radio audience could judgefor themselves. Today, fifty years later anew audience can hear exactly what all theexcitement was about … and exciting it is!How could it not be? Price and Corelli bothat their spectacular best, together with a finecast including Mario Sereni, Irene Dalis,William Wilderman, and a fresh TeresaStratas (as Ines). Fausto Cleva conducted.As usual in thisseries, the soundis untroubled bysonic artifacts, hasrealistic dynamicrange and a goodsense of the frontto-backperspective(88697 91006,2CDs).Don Carlo featuredFranco Corelliin the title role inthe broadcast ofMarch 7, 1964 supportedby LeonieRysanek, IreneDalis, NicolaeHerlea, GeorgioTozzi, Hermann Uhde and others. Thisperformance makes a good case for the fouract version heard here. Kurt Adler conducts(88697 91004, 2 CDs).Rigoletto dates from February 22, 1964and stars thesefamiliar Metalumni: RobertMerrill as Rigolettoand Richard Tuckeras the Duke ofMantua, RobertaPeters as Gilda,Mignon Dunn asMaddelena andBonaldo Giaiotti asSparafucile. FaustoCleva conductsthis stunningperformance thatbrings this treasuretrove of great arias,this cautionary taleof bad karma, to itstragic ending (88697 91005, 2 CDs).The first of the four SONY DVDs fromThe Met dates from April 5, 1978 andfeatures the usual double bill of Mascagni’sCavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’sPagliacci. As originally telecast, images anda bare outline of the plot are silently seenwhile the two preludes are played. The 37years young Placido Domingo stars in bothoperas in performances that define the rolesof Turiddu and Canio, supported by TatianaTroyanos as Santuzza in Cavalleria and bySherrill Milnes (Tonio), and Teresa Stratas(Nedda) in Pagliacci. The sets were designedby Franco Zeffirelli and James Levineconducts these performances that remaina lasting memento of a memorable evening(88697 91008-9, 1 DVD).Verdi’s Otello, live from September 25,1978, has the incomparable Jon Vickers inthe title role supported by Cornell MacNeil(Iago), Renata Scotto (Desdemona), AndreaVelis (Rodrigo), James Morris, and others.This was some four years after Vickersfilmed Otello in Karajan’s production inBerlin. Cornell MacNeil, who died in Julythis year, is perfectly cast as the schemerwho brings down Otello. Production and setsby Zeffirelli (88697 91012-9, 1 DVD).Of the four operas in this release, Ifound Alban Berg’s Lulu the most engrossing.Perhaps it is the lingering impression ofLouise Brooks’ portrayal in Georg Pabst’s1929 German film, Pandora’s Box. JohnDexter was the producer and Jocelyn Herbertwas responsible for the sets and costumedesign of the Met’s Lulu, all coming togetherin a mise en scène that is appropriatelysurreal and decadent, as it would be inproductions of the time of Pandora. JuliaMigenes is the ill-fated Lulu and FranzMazura is Jack the Ripper, Lulu’s lastcustomer. The Countess is sung by EvelynLear and Kenneth Riegel is Alwa. There areover 20 singingroles in Lulu, toomany to list here.Suffice to say, thisis an unusuallycompellingand enthrallingperformance indynamic stereo or5.1 surround sound.James Levineconducts (8869791009-9, 2 DVDs).The Magic Fluteis the abridged,English languageversion as seenDecember 30,2006, the firstseason of the Met’s “Live in HD” in theatresaround the world. Intended for childrenof all ages, this pantomimed version hasinnocent charm and may be an entertainingintroduction to Mozart’s masterpiece(everything by Mozart is a masterpiece).Outstanding are Nathan Gunn (Papageno),Erika Miklosa (Queen of the Night), YingHuang (Pamina), René Pape (Sarastro) butthere doesn’t seem to be any role not ideallycast. Sub-titles in many languages, includingEnglish are accessible. James Levineconducts this exuberant, brilliantly staged,happy event (88697 91013-9, 1 DVD).70 thewholenote.comOctober 1 – November 7, 2011

11.1290thSeason90TH SEASON SPONSORLOUIS LORTIESIR ANDREW DAVISBeethoven EroicaOctober 12 at 8:00pmOctober 13 at 2:00pmSir Andrew Davis, conductorLouis Lortie, pianoBach/orch. Sir Andrew Davis:Passacaglia & Fugue, BWV 582Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 25, K. 503Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 “Eroica”Best of BaroqueOctober 15 at 7:30pmOctober 16 at 3:00pmSir Andrew Davis, conductor,organ, and harpsichordNora Shulman, fluteSarah Jeffrey, oboeJonathan Crow, violinSir Andrew Davis leads the orchestra in a richtapestry of music by the grand master of theBaroque period, Johann Sebastian Bach.RachmaninoffSymphony No. 2October 19 & 20 at 8:00pmStéphane Denève, conductorLars Vogt, pianoStravinsky: Concerto for ChamberOrchestra “Dumbarton Oaks”Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 16, K. 451Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2LARS VOGTThe Wizard of Ozwith OrchestraOctober 29 at 8:00pmOctober 30 at 3:00pmEmil de Cou, conductorFollow the Yellow Brick Road to Roy ThomsonHall for the classic film The Wizard of Oz on agiant screen accompanied live by the TSO!416.593.4828 CONCERTS AT ROY THOMSON HALLLight Classics Concert SeriesLight Classics Media Sponsor

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