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Every Day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

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Dame Kiri Te Kanawa – My World of Opera
Introduction
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Hab’ mir’s gelobt
from Der Rosenkavalier
Kiri Te Kanawa (Marschallin); Anne Howells (Octavian); Barbara Bonney (Sophie) Conductor: Georg Solti*
Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880)
Il etait une fois a la cour d’Eisenach
from Les Contes D’Hoffman – Placido Domingo (Hoffman); Conductor: Georges Prêtre*
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Ah, morir potessi adesso
from Ernani - Placido Domingo (Ernani); Mirella Freni (Elvira); Conductor: Riccardo Muti**
Giuseppe VERDI
Va pensiero
from Nabucco – Chorus of La Scala, Milan, Conductor: Riccardo Muti**
Giuseppe VERDI
Gia nella notte densa
from Otello – Kiri Te Kanawa (Desdemona); Vladimir Atlantov (Otello); Conductor: Zoltan Pesko***
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Mi par d’esser sognando
from La Cenerentola – Kathleen Kuhlmann (Cinderella); Laurence Dale (Ramiro); Marta Taddei (Clorinda); Laura Zanini (Tisbe); Claudio Desderi (Don Magnifico); Roderick Kennedy (Alidoro); Alberto Rinaldi (Dandini); Conductor: Donato Renzetti****
Cristoph GLUCK (1714-1787)
Che faro senza Euridice?
from Orfeo ed Euridice – Janet Baker (Orfeo); Conductor: Raymond Leppard****
Umberto GIORDANO (1867-1948)
Si fui soldato
from Andrea Chenier – Jose Carreras (Chenier); Conductor Riccardo Chailly**
Giuseppe VERDI
Ella giammai m’amo!
From Don Carlo – Robert Lloyd (Phillip II); Conductor: Bernard Haitink*
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Café Scene from La Boheme – Ileana Cotrubas (Mimi); Neil Shicoff (Rodolfo); Thomas Allen (Marcello); Gwynne Howell (Colline); John Rawnsley (Schaunard); Conductor: Lamberto Gardelli*
Johan STRAUSS (1825-1899)
Czardas and Frosch’s monologue from Die Fledermaus – Kiri Te Kanawa (Rosalinde); Josef Meinrad (Frosch); Conductor: Placido Domingo*
Picture Format 4:3 Region Code 2,3,4,5
* Royal Opera House, Covent Garden **Teatro all Scala, Milan ***Arena di Verona ****Glyndebourne Festival Opera
WARNER MUSIC VISION DVD 9031-77676-2 [58:00]

 

Now here’s a nice little DVD. However, at 58 minutes duration, it probably is too little for the opera purist. On the other hand, you can look at it as an appetiser – an hors d’oeuvres of scenes from the operatic world that the distributors have released to entice you into buying the complete operatic DVDs.

Each scene is introduced by New Zealand soprano Kiri Te Kanawa and although this was originally recorded in 1991 one presumes that the complete recordings are still available. In fact, it is very obvious by the relative youth of the performers that the scenes (all filmed on stage) are at least a decade old. Placido Domingo, marvellously young-looking as Hoffman and Ernani (and later as conductor of Strauss’s ‘Die Fledermaus’) leads the cavalcade of singers in their prime. Well some are in their prime, others leave you wondering. Robert Lloyd, for example, despite his make-up to look like a decrepit Philip II and lamenting missed opportunities in the aria from ‘Don Carlo’ Ella giammai m’amo! sounds a bit too mushy in his diction - even though he was then only fiftyish. But Lloyd has great presence.

The septet from Rossini’s ‘La Cenerentola’ is wonderfully conceived on stage with the soloist emerging from a simple maze to regale us with Rossini’s sense of fun. The love duet from Verdi’s ‘Otello’ Gia nella notte densa was a trifle too stage-managed and both Te Kanawa (Desdemona) and Atlantov (Otello) wooden. To be fair the performance came from the Verona amphitheatre and perhaps the goings-on and noisy celebrations filtering from the surrounding streets as Italy celebrated a World Cup football victory may have been off-putting. Te Kanawa looked tentative while Atlantov looked as if he couldn’t wait to get off stage and watch the replay on TV. Janet Baker did us proud with her rendition of Che faro senza Euridice? from Gluck’s ‘Orfeo ed Euridice’ but then it is a rendition that she has made famous throughout the world. It is, nevertheless, nice finally to see it visually.

Other fleeting performances that stand out are José Carreras as Andrea Chenier although one would have thought it would have been more appropriate if something a bit more popular than Si fu soldato had been chosen. However, it was thrilling to hear and see a very young Thomas Allen as Marcello in the Café scene from Puccini’s ‘La Bohème’. Heavens he looked young - and his clear baritone sounded so good too.

Despite the shortcomings (and I’m really scraping the bottom of a bottomless pit here) there surely can’t be very much wrong with a DVD that starts with a superb rendition of Richard Strauss’s Trio from ‘Der Rosenkavalier’. Kiri Te Kanawa, Barbara Bonney and Anne Howells are riveting both visually and audibly. And to be conducted by Georg Solti is more than just a bonus. 

Randolph Magri-Overend 

 


 



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