• CD Review: Die Zauberflöte (1964, Böhm)

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    This review is dedicated to the memory of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Franz Crass and Evelyn Lear.








    Die Zauberflöte

    1964, Deutsche Grammophon

    (Fritz Wunderlich, Evelyn Lear, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Roberta Peters, Franz Crass, Friedrich Lenz; RIAS-Kammerchor; Berliner Philharmoniker, cond. Karl Böhm)


    Of the two classic Zauberflötes released in 1964, my personal preference is for Otto Klemperer’s EMI recording. But this Flute is excellent as well and I understand why it’s often labeled definitive. Like Klemperer, Karl Böhm takes a Romantic approach to the score, with slow tempos and the luxurious modern sound of the Berlin Read the rest of this entry »

  • CD Review: Madama Butterfly (1962, Leinsdorf)

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    Madama Butterfly

    1962, RCA Victor

    (Leontyne Price, Richard Tucker, Rosalind Elias, Philip Maero, Piero de Palma; RCA Italiana Chorus; RCA Italiana Orchestra, cond. Erich Leinsdorf)


    Erich Leinsdorf’s second Butterfly recording is in some ways very different from the first. Chiefly, he foregoes the light lyricism of his 1957 recording with Anna Moffo and Cesare Valetti, in favor of a more powerful performance via the spinto voices of Leontyne Price and Richard Tucker. But his approach to the score remains Read the rest of this entry »

  • CD Review: Don Giovanni (1966, Klemperer)

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    Don Giovanni

     1966, EMI

    (Nicolai Ghiaurov, Walter Berry, Claire Watson, Nicolai Gedda, Christa Ludwig, Mirella Freni, Paolo Montarsolo, Franz Crass; New Philharmonia Chorus; New Philharmonia Orchestra, cond. Otto Klemperer)


    This quintessential example of Romantic Mozart is a mixed bag. Otto Klemperer is unquestionably a great conductor, but his interpretation of Giovanni is slow and solemn enough to make that of fellow Romantic specialist Herbert von Karajan sound positively zippy. Granted, this approach contains moments of genius – e.g. the elegant, dance-like interpretation of “Finch’han dal vino,” or they way Read the rest of this entry »

  • CD Review: Rigoletto (1984, Sinopoli)

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    1984, Philips/Decca

    (Renato Bruson, Neil Shicoff, Edita Gruberova, Robert Lloyd, Brigitte Fassbaender, Kurt Rydl; Coro dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia; Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, cond. Giuseppe Sinopoli)


    This Rigoletto, though hardly perfect, would make a good, solid introduction to the work for a newcomer. The sound is excellent, both voices and orchestra are bright, strong and clear, and Giuseppe Sinopoli conducts with passion and panache. True, several of his tempos are idiosyncratically slow, but the score’s blood-and-thunder drama is never lost. Furthermore, Verdi purists will be happy that the score is performed strictly as written, with no cuts, no Read the rest of this entry »

  • CD Review: Orfeo ed Euridice (1967, Richter)

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    Orfeo ed Euridice

    1967, Deutsche Grammophon

    (Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Gundula Janowitz, Edda Moser; Münchener Bach-Chor; Münchener Bach-Orchester, cond. Karl Richter)


    I first approached this recording out of curiosity, featuring as it does a star baritone in the originally-contralto role of Orfeo. But what draws me back to it again and again isn’t its novelty, but its high quality.  Using the original Vienna edition of the score, with only the Dance of the Read the rest of this entry »

  • CD Review: La Cenerentola (1963, Di Fabritiis)

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    La Cenerentola

    1963, Decca

    (Giulietta Simionato, Ugo Benelli, Paolo Montarsolo, Sesto Bruscantini, Giovanni Foiani, Dora Carral, Miti Truccato Pace; Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino; Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, cond. Oliviero di Fabritiis)


    Of the few Cenerentola recordings that predate Zedda’s critical edition of the score, this one probably most resembles the opera that we know today. All the music is heard in the order that Rossini intended, the recitatives, though heavily cut, are otherwise unaltered, and all the musical “numbers” are more-or-less intact. The only aria missing is Alidoro’s “Lá del ciel;” the simpler yet charming Agolini aria “Vasto teatro é Read the rest of this entry »

  • CD Review: Rigoletto (1971, Bonynge)

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    1971, Decca

    (Sherrill Milnes, Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Martti Talvela, Huguette Tourangeau, Clifford Grant; Ambrosian Opera Chorus; London Symphony Orchestra, cond. Richard Bonynge)


    This eternally popular Rigoletto was my first recording of Verdi’s masterpiece and what an outstanding introduction to the work it was! Few, if any Rigolettos can equal this one in sheer luxury of sound. Richard Bonynge conducts a vigorous, sensitive, theatrical reading of the complete score, and the Read the rest of this entry »