MUSSORGSKY: Boris Godunov
STRAUSS - LEHAR Operettas
Ever since Zubin Mehta made his famous recording of Turandot in 1972 (with Sutherland, Pavarotti and Caballé), he has b been closely associated with Puccini's masterpiece. His 2008 Valencia performance (with Maria Guleghina, Marco Berti and Akexua Voulgaridou) is available on DVD (REVIEW), and his famous 1998 Beijing Chinese production (with Giovanna Casolla, Sergei Larin and Barbara Frittoli) is available on disk and video (REVIEW). This new one is a recent Valencia production (no performance dates are provided), and it is quite grand. The real star is Zubin Mehta whose leadership is incre3dibly sensitive; he stretches the score on occasion to great effect. Turandot is the young American soprano Jennifer Wilson who recently has had great success as Turandot and Brunnhilde. She is secure and sensitive to the score if lacking the sheer power of some great Turandots of the past. The big news is that Andrea Bocelli is excellent as Calaf. He sings with surprising power and the big moments come off just fine. Youngg soprano Jessica Nuccio is a gentle Liu, and all of the male roles are strongly cast. Decca has given this a deluxe treatment with an oversized jacket and a comprehensive set of program notes and complete libretto all part of the package. Audio is outstanding. I would be surprised if eventually this did not appear on video. And of course one cannot forget the many superb performances available, particularly those with Nilsson and Bjoerling (REVIEW), Nilsson and Corelli (REVIEW) and, if you can find it, the Pearl issue of excerpts from a 1937 Covent Garden performance with Eva Turner, a truly great night in the opera house (REVIEW)..
Bulgarian bass Boris Christoff (191401993) was rebounded for his interpretation of Boris Godunov .His career had many problems from his conflicts with fells artists including Maria Callas, Nicolai Gedda and Herbert von Karajan. In 1950 Christoff was invited to sing at the Met, but passport problems prevented this. After this he refused further invitations from the Met and never sang there. Several Christoff recordings of Boris Godunov are available My favorite is the 1962 EMI recording with André´Cluytens on the podium, masterful in every way. This is the Rimsky-Korsakov version, which I prefer to the original because of its richer orchestration, and, aside from Christoff's magnificent portrayal of the doomed Tzar, it does have the most spectacular ringing bells in the coronation scene I have e ever er heard. A minor debit is that Christoff also sings the roles of Varlaam and Pimen; it seems odd producers accepted this, as he soundest just about the same in all three roles. Now Pristine has made available this live performance from Covent Garden. a BBC broadcast of June 10, 1961. It is indeed a powerful performance with Christoff in top form, a death scene that is one of the most impressive.[ressive. The entire cast is strong and even though most are English, they sing convincingly in Russian. Engineering captures much of the physical stage action, which is quite exciting to hear. This is an important addition to the Christoff discography. Andrew Rose has done a miraculous job in restoring the ancient tapes that were the source of this performance.
Nicolai Gedda was a remarkable le tenor with an incredibly wide repertory, and made countless recordings during his career. His recordings of Mozart, Italian, French and Russian opera are admirable, and he was a perfect choice for operetta recording many of them.. His associates in these were all starts of operetta including Annaliese Rothenberger, Rita Streich, Lucia Popp, Kurt Bohme, and Renate Holm. He recorded many operettas, some of them complete. No Warner Classics has gathered many of these in a super-budget box, all remastered and sounding better than ever. This set focuses on highlights highlights of Franz Lehar: The Count of Luxembourg, Paganini, Der Zarewitsch, and The Land of Smiles. Johann Strauss II's The Gypsy Baron also is included (but, surprisingly the collection doesn't include The Merry Widow or Die Fledermaus). . Limited [rpgra, information is provided, but each disk, in its own illustrated cardboard jacket, contains a complete track listing . Here's an opportunity to acquire many famous operettas in splendid performances, very well recorded.
R.E.B. (August 2015)