Arias from Roméo et Juliette, Rigoletto, Il barbiere
di Siviglia, The Rake's Progress, Gianni Schicchi, Un ballo en maschera,
Linda di Chamounix,
Hamlet, and Candide.
Music from Die Zauberflöte, Cosi fan tutte, Der Barbier von Sevilla,m
HGans Heiuling, Zar und Zimmermann, Der Wildschütz, Das Nachtlager in
Granada, Der Trompeter von Säkkingen, Bajazzo, Königskinder,
Die tote Stadt, and Der Zigeunerbaron.
Songs by Tosti, Donaudy, Buzzi-Peccia, Tagliaferri, Tirindelli, Santoliquido,
Puccini, Bianchini, Verdi, Sibella, Pieraccini, Caccini, Scarlatti, Liszt,
Szule, Tchaikovsky, Campbell-Tipson. VILLA-LOBOS: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5.
The remarkable coloratura Diana Damrau already has made many recordings of varied repertory; here now is a showcase CD that displaying a wide range of repertory sung in four languages. She has a remarkable voice and artistry to match, tossing off all coloratura challenges with the greatest of ease, adding extra embellishments as she chooses. Her vocal production is not always as even on sustained notes as it might be, but she surely has remarkable agility. This is a fantastic display of vocalism by any standards. Complete texts are provided.
Another contemporary singer who continues to grow in stature is baritone Simon Keenlyside. His versatility is remarkable. He has recorded a wide range of operas including music of Adès and Maazel, as well as Britten, Donizetti, Monteverdi, and Puccini. On DVD he is the Don of the day, in performances of Don Giovanni conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras and Franz Welser-Möst, and there also is a DVD of a specialty of his, Hamlet, which he is now singing at the Met. The Wigmore Hall audience was enthralled by this superb concert of October 26, 2008. Keenlyside surely is among the finest lieder singers of the day. Complete texts are provided, and CD notes point out that Keenlyside is an ornithologist and a zoologist, as well as a scholar of European literature.
German baritone Josef Metternich (1915-2005) was a major figure on the operatic scene in Europe in both Italian and German opera. A favorite of leading conductors of his time, he made a number of memorable recordings many of which already have been issued by Preiser (this is their third CD). Now we have this issue of arias from the operas listed above all sung in German recorded 1954-1958. The excerpt from Arabella is taken from the 1954 EMI recording of excerpts from the opera in which he sings Mandryka to Elisabeth Schwarzkopf's Arabella. Excellent transfers, as usual with Preiser.
Metternich was best known for his portrayal of baritone Italian baritone roles. His contemporary, baritone Hermann Prey (1929-1998) was a light baritone who excelled in Mozart, Rossini and lieder. Preiser's welcome CD offers Columbia and Electrola recordings made 1954-1957 including his remarkable 1957 recording of Pierrot's Lied from Korngold's Die tote Stadt, which he would record in the 1975 RCA recording of the complete opera. This CD is a welcome memento of a fine artist.
Italian-American soprano Licia Albanese has enjoyed an extraordinary career. Born in Italy July 22, 1913, she is still with us—a 100-year Anniversary celebration is planned for July 30, 2010. She made her debut in 1934 in Madama Butterfly and sang more than 300 performances of the role, along with other Puccini heroines. Her voice was dependable and assured, although not a particularly beautiful instrument. A favorite of Arturo Toscanini, Albanese was a mainstay at the Metropolitan, San Francisco Opera, and La Scala, as well as other major opera houses. Preiser already has two CDs devoted to her, and now we have this disk of Italian songs recorded in 1949 and 1955 when she was in her prime. Carlo Savina conducts a rather anemic orchestra in nine of the songs, pianists Dirk Marzollo and Victor Trucco are pianists for the others. The final item, a recording made in 1951 with Leopold Stokowski and a cello ensemble, is Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 of Villa-Lobos, RCA's response to the definitive Bidu Sayao recording made in New York in 1945 with the composer conducting—no challenge whatever for the Sayao version, but intriguing to hear because of Stokowski's conducting. As we have come to expect from Preiser, there are no texts.
R.E.B. (March 2010)