STRAUSS: "Aber der Richtige, wenns einen gibt"
ist alles vergebens ...Es gibt ein Reich" Ariadne auf Naxos.
Es war nicht mehr als eine Farce" Der Rosenkavalier.
"Allein! Weh, ganz
allein" Elektra. "Sieh -- Amme -- sieh ... Zum
mein Mann!" Die Frau ohne Schatten. "Dance of the Seven Veils" and
"Es ist kein Laut zu vernehmen" Salome.
ROSSINI: "Largo al
factotum" (Leo Nucci), "Una voce poco fa" (Marilyn Horne)
and "La calunnia Ë un venticelo" (Nicolai Ghiaurov) The Barber of Seville;
"Bel raggio lusinghier di speme" (Joan Sutherland) Semiramide;
"Non mi lasciare, o speme di vendetta ... O muto asil del pianto ...
Corriam! voliam!" (Luciano Pavarotti) and "S'allontanano alfine!
... Sleva opaca" (Renata Tebaldi) William Tell; "Nacqui
all'affanno ... Non pi˜ mesta" (Teresa Berganza) La Cenerentola;
"Come tacer ... Vorrei spiegarvi il giubilo" La cambiale di
matrimonio (Joan Sutherland); "Assisa a piË d'un salice"
(Marilyn Horne) from Otello; "Pria di dividerci da voi,
signore ... Dite: chi Ë quella femmina?" (Teresa Berganza,
Fernando Corena, Luigi Alva, Rolando Panerai) L'italiana in
Algeri; various orch & cond.
Two additions to Decca's Opera Gala series; of the two, the Rossini collection is of consistently high quality. London/Decca was fortunate to have under contract some of the finest singers of the past half-century. We have Rossinian coloratura fireworks from Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne, the sublime artistry of Teresa Berganza, Luciano Pavarotti in spectacular form in his William Tell aria, plus Renata Tebaldi's rare venture into this composer in another excerpt from the same opera. Ghiaurov is more successful than Leo Nucci in his aria from Barber, and the CD ends with the sparkling Act I conclusion of L'italiana in Algeri, with a uniformly strong cast headed by Teresa Berganza and Fernando Corena. Recorded sound is consistently good; texts are provided in Italian and English.
The Strauss collection is another matter. Apparently this CD is an attempt to show the composer's "lifetime love affair with the soprano voice." As the focus is on opera they did not include Four Last Songs but did give us Salome's "Dance of the Seven Veils," which is even less appropriate. Some of their other choices also are a touch suspect. The CD starts strongly (and beautifully) with the Arabella duet superbly sung by Lisa della Casa and Hilde Gueden (recorded in 1957), followed by Leontyne Price's rich sound in the Ariadne aria from the complete 1977 recording. Elektra's first monologue is brilliantly sung by Birgit Nilsson 1966 complete setagain a wise choice. Then there is an excerpt from the famous 1955 recording of Die Frau ohne Schatten showcasing Leonie Rysanek's definitive Empress. However, Decca could have included more from Frau and omitted Karajan's Salome "Dance of the Seven Veils," which surely doesn't belong on a CD supposedly devoted to singing. The major works on this CD are the conclusion of Rosenkavalier, exquisitely sung by Crespin, Gueden and S–derstr–m recorded in 1964, and the final scene from Salome, for which the producers made a bizzare choiceAnja Silja's 1973 recording with her husband, Christoph von Dohnányi and the Vienna Philharmonic, which might make a few dramatic points but surely no vocal ones. Silja's voice has an unpleasant cold edge, sometimes is a touch off pitch, all exaggerated when she forces, which is often. Her live Vienna State Opera performance recorded in 1965 is exciting dramatically but vocally lacking (see review). For the Salome finale Decca could have used their 1956 Inge Borkh recording with Josef Krips and the Vienna Philharmonic, or again returned to Birgit Nilsson from her1962 complete recording also with the Vienna Phil/Solti. Fortunately Decca elected not to include any of Gwyneth Jones' pathetic Egyptian Helen.
The Vienna Philharmonic plays gloriously throughout. Despite the fact that many of these recordings are more than three decades old the sonic quality throughout is superb. Complete texts are provided in German and English.