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Reznicek: Donna Diana [Live]

E N von Reznicek , Ulrich Windfuhr , Kiel Philharmonic Orchestra Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: £28.15 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Kiel Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Ulrich Windfuhr
  • Composer: E N von Reznicek
  • Audio CD (31 Jan 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Live
  • Label: Cpo
  • ASIN: B0007ACVOG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,830 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Overture
2. Prelude
3. O tont, o tont nur, frohliche Drommetten!
4. Er ist verliebt
5. Aus ist's Turnier!
6. Wie hubsch sie ist
7. Fanfares
8. Scene of citizens, knights, noblemen, and their ladies
9. Ach wie herrlich, ach wie prachtig
10. Seid mir gegrusst, Ihr edlen damen all'
See all 20 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Prelude & Scene 1
2. Ballet
3. Ich hab das Glucksrad so gedreht
4. Die Hoffnung ist's, die mich hierher gefuhrt
5. Es ist die Liebe die Meisterin des Glucks
6. Nun halte fest, mein Herz!
7. Prinzessin! Ist das nun Scherz oder Ernst?
8. Ist's moglich? Was muss ich erfahren?
9. Was ist das? Hoheit? Warum kommt Ihr nicht?
10. Nun hor, Perin!
See all 37 tracks on this disc

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Performance Could be Better, But ... 20 Feb 2008
By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
... we're not likely to get a new recording any time soon. This, the most famous of Reznicek's operas, has never been recorded before and apparently this recording of a live performance from the Kiel Opera, with musical forces of less than international standards, was partially underwritten by The Reznicek Society, an organization based in Alaska(!). There has been a freshet of Reznicek recordings lately and I've raved here at Amazon about the recordings of two of his orchestral masterpieces, 'Der Sieger' and 'Schlemihl,' also on the cpo label. One, of course, knows the Overture to 'Donna Diana,' even if one doesn't know they know it. It has figured on pops programs, has been used in commercials and was the signature tune for the old radio program, in the US, 'Sergeant Preston of the Yukon,' and in Germany for their equivalent of 'Name That Tune' ('Erkennen Sie die Melodie?').

Reznicek was resident in Prague in the 1894 when he wrote the opera; he had been a military bandmaster at the time, but had just been fired for getting into a fight with a student who made advances to his wife. (Reznicek's life is so filled with dramatic incidents it could make the plot of an opera in its own right.) He submitted the opera to the impresario of the Deutsches Theater in Prague, Angelo Neumann, and it was accepted but Neumann told him he needed to add an overture and 'make it a lively one!' This Reznicek did that very night and it became the one piece for which he is still remembered to this day.

'Donna Diana,' set in Spain, is based on a Spanish play, 'El desdén con el desdén' ('Disdain for Disdain'), which is a version of the 'Taming of the Shrew' story with weird echoes of the 'Turandot' story as well.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Performance Could be Better, But ... 28 Feb 2005
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
... we're not likely to get a new recording any time soon. This, the most famous of Reznicek's operas, has never been recorded before and apparently this recording of a live performance from the Kiel Opera, with musical forces of less than international standards, was partially underwritten by The Reznicek Society, an organization based in Alaska(!). There has been a freshet of Reznicek recordings lately and I've raved here at Amazon about the recordings of two of his orchestral masterpieces, 'Der Sieger' and 'Schlemihl,' also on the cpo label. One, of course, knows the Overture to 'Donna Diana,' even if one doesn't know they know it. It has figured on pops programs, has been used in commercials and was the signature tune for the old radio program, in the US, 'Sergeant Preston of the Yukon,' and in Germany for their equivalent of 'Name That Tune' ('Erkennen Sie die Melodie?').

Reznicek was resident in Prague in the 1894 when he wrote the opera; he had been a military bandmaster at the time, but had just been fired for getting into a fight with a student who made advances to his wife. (Reznicek's life is so filled with dramatic incidents it could make the plot of an opera in its own right.) He submitted the opera to the impresario of the Deutsches Theater in Prague, Angelo Neumann, and it was accepted but Neumann told him he needed to add an overture and 'make it a lively one!' This Reznicek did that very night and it became the one piece for which he is still remembered to this day.

'Donna Diana,' set in Spain, is based on a Spanish play, 'El desdén con el desdén' ('Disdain for Disdain'), which is a version of the 'Taming of the Shrew' story with weird echoes of the 'Turandot' story as well. The daughter of the ruling Count of Barcelona, the haughty heroine, Donna Diana (named, of course, for the chaste huntress of Greek mythology) is courted by three suitors whom she rejects with disdain. The hero, Don Cesar, by stealth and force, humbles her into loving him. This is all accompanied by the usual comic opera hijinks. Reznicek revised the opera in the 1930s, making considerable cuts and rewriting the libretto, setting the whole thing in the present, with Don Cesar as a bullfighter and Don Louis, one of Diana's suitors, as a sugar tycoon. We are given the original version in this recording.

The opera has some wonderful arias and ensembles, including a ironic, yet moving, choral prayer that sounds vaguely like the 'sacred' music of Mahler (but written before his 'Resurrection' Symphony) whose text beseeches God to 'bend Diana's stubborn mind' to Cesar's will. Musically, Reznicek's style is all over the place--he was master pasticheur--and we get Spanish melorhythms cheek-by-jowl with Wagnerian/Straussian harmonies and orchestration, and occasional forays into waltzes by the other Strauss. There are two particularly memorable arias, 'Floretta's Song,' and 'The Fool's Song,' the latter sung by the plot's behind-the-scenes manipulator, Don Perin. And there are a number of excellent orchestral interludes, including preludes to Acts II and III.

The performance of the Kiel Opera Chorus and Orchestra is lively and generally excellent, although they are some awkward asynchronies from time to time in this live performance. The main singers are acceptable, although the performance of Donna Diana herself by a spinto soprano, Manuela Uhl, is sometimes harsh and more than sometimes wayward. Don Cesar, the hero, is sung stalwartly by tenor Roman Sadnik. Floretta, whose aria in Act II is a highlight, is sung deliciously by mezzo Anne-Carolyn Schlüter. Don Louis is a sweet-voiced tenor, Hans-Jürgen Schöpflin. The star of the production is the Don Perin, sung by baritone Simon Pauly, whose 'Fool's Song' ('Die Narrenglocken klingen tagsüber mir ins Ohr') is outstanding, as are his singing and acting as Don Cesar's 'foolish' sidekick who actually knows all.

The booklet notes in German by Edward van den Hoogen are inelegantly written, but informative; the English translation of van den Hoogen's prose by Susan Marie Praeder does it no service. I've complained before about her inept translations in other cpo productions and this effort is no improvement. Sound is excellent. Audience noise minimal.

Bottom line: Not for everyone, but for any musiclover curious to widen his acquaintance of Reznicek's music, and particularly of his most famous opera, this is the only game in town.

2CDs: TT=112 mins

Scott Morrison
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good and worth hearing! A gem to own! 6 Feb 2006
By D. J. Edwards - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Amazing that unfamiliar works do get lost between the cracks even when they are generally well reviewed. The well known overture is not the only music worth hearing. From start to finish the work is melodious and very enjoyable to listen to and definitely worth having. Just listened to it this afternoon and that's why I come to put my two cents worth in on its behalf. The Kiel chorus sings superbly and the orchestra makes "Donna Diana" sound like an opera they do frequently which is hardly the case. Would love to see this work on the stage..... like that's going to happen. Much more worthy of bringing to performance than some of the works being revived of late in New York. Manuela Uhl in the role of Diana is strident and not always the pleasure the music deserves but she is into the role and l improves as the performance progresses. Most importantly she doesn't spoil this very good recording. I thing some critics have been overly harsh as regards her voice. Roman Sadnik as Don Cesar has a full, rich, beautiful voice and timber and is a continual pleasure to hear. All the other voices do credit to themselves. I would urge any respectable opera collection to add this to its shelves. "Donna Diana" along with "the Haunted Manor", somewhat recent releases, deserve to be purchased before they disappear. The economical state of classical music, and opera in particular, make availability totally unpredictable. I put this work in equal standing with the Kosler "Bartered Bride" on Supraphon and the Homburg "Barber of Seville" on Naxos, for its vitality, lilting melody and vibrant orchestral playing and quality of performance. I believe anyone's collection is the poorer for not having these operas on its shelf.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect performances, but still strongly recommended 12 May 2009
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
At last we have a decent recording of this one. The exuberantly memorable overture has graced concert programs for almost a century (though it's popularity seems to have waned a little in the course of the last decades), and has lead more people than myself to wonder what the complete opera is like. Turns out that it is a well-crafted, thoroughly charming and tunefully memorable work, superbly scored - not a masterpiece, but more or less much as you would expect and hope for given the overture.

Stylistically Donna Diana is, in fact, rather curious, vacillating between Wagnerian late-romanticism with leitmotifs and grand gestures and light operetta. The mix is actually rather successful overall and hangs together convincingly with convincing long lines and climaxes, inventive orchestral textures, skillfully written set pieces and fine, poignant arias that wouldn't always be out of place in Puccini. Even the libretto is, in fact, rather appealing - the story isn't very original, but the characters are well-developed and sympathetically human. Reznicek has also clearly taken the time and effort to develop each character with distinctive musical figures and themes, which are inventively intervowen in the set pieces and throughout the development of the drama.

As for the performances, these set isn't quite perfect, but far better than merely serviceable. Already in the overture it is possible to sense a certain lack of fire. The orchestral parts are generally finely shaped and colorful, and Windfuhr paces the opera nicely - the Kiel Philharmonic Orchestra might not be the Berlin Philharmonic, but it is surely an accomplished ensemble with an impressive brass section in particular. Still again there is maybe a lack of both flesh and spirit - some of the tunes don't quite take soaring flight the way you could possibly imagine them doing, and some of the Wagnerian dramatic gestures don't quite grab you by the collar in the way they could have. The vocal parts are generally very good if perhaps better in terms of dramatic flair and characterization than sheer beauty of sound (no Joan Sutherlands), and it adds up to a rather moving whole. Best of all is, I think, Roman Sadnik, but Manuela Uhl's interpretation of the main character is very convincing and touchingly human as well, capturing all the subtleties of that character. The rest of the cast is generally satisfactory.

The balance between orchestra and singers isn't always perfect, but given the huge variations in textures I would wager it would be more or less impossible to obtain a convincing balance throughout the whole opera. Apart from that, the sound quality is very good, and all in all this set is a real treat, even though it isn't always perfectly executed; strongly recommended, nonetheless.
5.0 out of 5 stars great 3 Oct 2014
By Robert Heyman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
quick response, great merchandise
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