BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
JOHANN STRAUSS: Die Fledermaus (Gala performance)
Arthaus Musik has been releasing a number of live concert performances with Bernard Haitink and the Royal Concertgebouw, in particular several Mahler symphonies. The Dutch conductor is not associated with Berlioz; apparently there is only one other recording, a live performance of Les nuits d'ete included in the Liver Concertgebouw Anthology Volume 6. Naow we have this performance of Symphonie fantastique from a concert that seems to have taken place in 1979 although the copyright date is a decade later. As one would expect, this is a ristine performance magnificently played, a touch lacking in excitement. Video is excellent, but audio is stereo rather than multi-channel. It's unfortunate there isn't more mnusic on the disk.
This new video of Aida id siappointing. recorded at La Scala February 21, 2015. This opera should be a magnificent spectacle with the best of singers for the taxing title roles. This rather drab, stark production was directed by Peter Stein/ Zubin Mehta seems a bit bored by it all, and when there is no spark from the leading singerw, there's not much to cheer about. Fabio Sartori gets off to a poor start in Celeste Aida; he improves as the opera continues. Kristin Lewis is a timid princess; no vocal fireworks here, and the same could be said of Anita Rachvellishvilili 's Amneris. There are a number of fine videos of Aida superior to this, particularly the stunning elaborate Met production (REVIEW).
This performance of Die Fledermauys is something very special. It took place Dece,ber 31. 100- in the Royal Opera House, and it was a gala occasiojn indeed. It was a "Farewell Gala" for the beloved Dam Joan Sutherland. We have a scintillating performance of Die Fledermaus conducted by the Diva's husband, Richard Bonyunge simg om al delightful new English translation by John Mortimer. In the Act II party sequence we have special appearances by Luciano Pavarotti, Dame Joan and Marilyn Horn all three of whom have collaborated so often iun performances and recordings. Everyone is in top form, and a festive atmosphere prevales. Stunning indeed to hear these three supreme artists enjoying themselves in tribute to their colleague. As a considerable bonus, the DVD also includes live performances by DAme Joan of music from Il Trovatore, Norma and Lucia di Lammermoor. Magnificent memories by one of the finest singers of the century. Don''t miss this highly entertaininjg and ijmportant DVD!
R.E.B. (December 2015).