CILEA: Poveri fiori from Adriana Lecouvreur. SMETANA:
Dobrá! Já mu je
dám! Jak je mi? from Dalibor. TCHAIKOVSKY: Pochudilis
mne budto golosa from Oprichnik. PUCCINI: Vissi d'arte from
Tosca. KORNGOLD: Ich ging zu ihm from Das Wunder der Heliane. GOUNOD:
Le ciel rayonne, l'oiseau chante...O légère hirondelle
from Mireille. STRAUSS:
Orchesterzwischenspiel/Wie umgibst du mich mit Frieden from Die Liebe
der Danae. RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Tsvetï moi! from Servila.
VERDI: Tacea la notte..Di tale amor from Il trovatore. MASSENET:
J'ai versé le poison dans cette
coupe d'or from Cléopatre. JANACEK: Mamicko, mám
tezkou hlavu..Kdo to je? from Jenufa.
KORNGOLD: Ich soll ihn niemals, niemals mehr sehn from Die Kathrin.
BEETHOVEN: Abscheulicher from Fidelio. WEBER: Ozean,
du Ungeheuer / Traure, mein Herz, um
from Oberon. WAGNER: Traft ihr das Schiff im Meere an from The
Flying Dutchman. VERDI: Rings liegt alles im Schlafe /Schon sinkt
der Abend /
kommt immer wieder from Macbeth. Frieden, Frieden from La
forza del destino.
Bald kommt Radames..O Vaterland from Aida. Nun in der nächt'
gen Stille from Othello. PUCCINI: In diesem Schlosse from Turandot.
D'ALBERT: Ich weiss nicht, wer mein Vater war from Tiefland. STRAUSS:
Das war sehrt gut, Mandryka from Arabella.
VERDI: Ritorna vincitor! / Pur ti riveggo, mia dolce Aida from
Aida. MASCAGNI: Tu qui, Santuzza? / No, no Turiddu / Als euer
Sohn einst fortzog
from Cavalleria Rusticana. LEONCAVALLO: Warum denn hieltest
du mich schend umfangen? from Pagliacci. PUCCINI: Un po' di
vero c'è / Un bel di verdremo / Che tua madre dovrà from Madama
Qual occhio al mondo / Nur der Schönheit weiht' ich mein Leben from Tosca.
Der ersten Tränen from
Turandot. D'ALBERT: Sein bin ich! Sein Eigentum! from Tiefland.
Psyche wandelt durch Säulenhallen from Tie toten Augen.
DVORAK: Lieblicher Mond, so
silberzart from Rusalka. PACINI: L'ama ognor qualio from Saffo. BIZET:
Ja, die Liebe hat bunte Flügel / Draussen am Wall von Sevilla from Carmen.
HALÉVY: Er kommt zurück from Die Jüden. GIORDANO: Welch'
ein Duft! / Gott, der gerecht ist from Fedora.
MUSSORGSKY: Sunless Song Cycle. Six Songs. Songs
and Dances of Death (orch. Shostakovich). RIMSKY-KORSAKOV:
Excerpts from Sadko and The
Tsar's Bride. Eight
Songs.TCHAIKOVSKY: Excerpt from The Snow Maiden. Eleven Songs.
Folksongs, Op. 104. SHOSTAKOVICH: Seven Romances on Verses by Alexander
Blok. Five Satires.
Renée Fleming's latest disk is her tribute to "great divas of the past" including Mary Garden, Maria Jeritza, Geraldine Farrar, Lotte Lehmann, Emmy Destinn, Magda Olivero, and a brief mention in CD notes of Rosa Ponselle (with a full-page picture). Of the 12 roles heard on this CD, in five languages, only one—Jenufa—has been performed by Fleming on stage. Fleming is in fine form and Gergiev's indulgent conducting gives her ample opportunity to display her gorgeous voice. "Vissi d'arte" is over the top with extended notes at the climax that would bring down the house in a live performance. The brief excerpt from Rimsky-Korsakokv's Servilia, unheard since the 1902 premiere, is a gem. One might expect Fleming's voice would be perfect for the unjustly neglected extraordinary aria from Korngold's Miracle of Heliane, but those familiar with Lotte Lehman's 1928 recording will realize what is missing. Lehman sang the Vienna premiere and her recording of this music (available on Preiser 89189) is definitive. However, there is much to enjoy here, and the only possible debit is the cover photo of Fleming in which she rather resembles Carol Burnett as Nora Desmond. Recorded sound is broad and spacious. Complete texts are provided.
Leonie Rysanek is a magic name for operaphiles, and here we have an opportunity to hear her favored repertory of the early '50's, many performances from live German radio broadcasts. The Verdi and Puccini are sung in German, Rysanek is in good voice, that high "C" in O patria mia (here O Vaterland), doesn't faze her one bit. Recorded sound is excellent; no texts.
Italian soprano Malfada Salvatini (1888-1971) is another superb singer of the past relatively unknown to most collectors. Most of her career was focused on Berlin where in 1926 she sang in that city's premiere of Turandot. She also performed in Dresden and Vienna and, surprisingly, never in Italy. When she married the Lithuanian ambassador to Germany in 1930 she retired from the stage. These recordings were made from 1919 to 1930 for Grammophon and Odeon, and many are sung in German. She obviously was a singer of imagination as well as power. In excerpts from Aida, Cavalleria rusticana, Madama Butterfly and Tosca she is heard, unfortunately, with tenor Hermann Jadlowker who surely was not in his best form at the time. As usual, Preiser's transfers are first-rate.
Vocal collectors surely will be interested in the EMI Classics budget reissue of many of soprano Galina Vishnevskaya's finest recordings made from 1974 to 1978. Some of these were issued several years ago in EMI's Great Recordings of the Century series; now, for a few dollars more, the collector can have them all. This period was a bit late in Vishnevskaya's career; she began singing with the Bolshoi Opera in 1953 and made her Met debut in 1961. She married Mstislav Rostropovich in 1955 and they often performed and recorded together. On these CDs we can hear music of Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich, who was a good friend of theirs. There are no texts, but, after all, this is budget price.
In 1958 famed producer John Culshaw recorded Decca's magnificent first installment in their Ring cycle, Das Rheingold. In his fascinating book Putting The Record Straight, Culshaw explains as a publicity stunt it was announced they developed a new approach to operatic recording and in this recording the sound of the Rheinmaidens would be heard from below the Rainbow Bridge—which some critics actually heard although, of course, in regular stereo this effect is impossible. True, the sound can be altered somewhat, but would never actually be heard in a verticle plane. This 1961 recording of Salome also created a sensation at the time of its release.As a gimmick, Decca announced they had developed another new recording process which they called Sonic Stage—actually not different from anything they had done before, although some critics seemed to think it was. There's no question sonic quality on this recording is remarkable in its presence and impact. Interpretively Nilsson really wasn't right for the role of the young princess. However. aside from a few slightly off-pitch notes, she surely could sing it—and this reissue cover has the same rather odd photo of the soprano used on the origiinal release. The remainder of the cast is superb, the VPO magnificent, and Solti is right at home in this rich score. The set includes a complete German/English libretto and sells for the price of two mid-price CDs.
R.E.B. (November 2006)