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Mark Hoos "mark hoos" (rotterdam, the netherlands)

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Saint-SaŽns: Samson et Dalila
Saint-SaŽns: Samson et Dalila
Offered by MUSIC DIRECT
Price: £16.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars grand opera!, 3 Jun 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I hesitated quite some time before buying this version, because I read some pretty negative comments on the singing of Elena Obraztsova. Some reviewers do not like the singing of Elena Obraztsova (at all). The Penguin Guide to Opera on Compact Disc writes: the key role of Dalilah is given an unpersuasive, unsensuous performance by Obrasztsova, with her vibrato verging on a wobble. A Dutch critic too found her singing `unpleasantly shrill, unsensuous an thus unseductive' The Austrian authors of Opern auf Schallplatten (Opera on Record) find she is showing off too much.

Then one day I found a second hand copy offered for £2.15 and thought: well, at that price...!

Apart form objections to the singing of Obraztsova, some critics object to a lack of genuine French lyrical style. Noel Goodwin says: the result is undeniable colorful in a Hollywood style, with Saint-Saens given the glossy treatment that some might think needed to cover the works weaknesses, while others will find here an exaggeration or distortion of the lyrical qualities. There is certainly some truth in this observation. On the other hand one finds not very many operalovers objecting to Karajan's style Carmen with Leontyne Price and the later one with Agnes Baltsa, or PrÍtre's style with Callas as Carmen. It was certainly not what Bizet intended for the Opéra Comique, but I find much to enjoy in these recordings. Grand Opera! Barenboim is conducting this Samson and Grand Opera is very much his style.

I actually like this version quite a bit. Domingo is really is in glorious voice. The recorded sound is excellent. Sometimes I too find Obraztsova a bit too much of a good thing. Maybe it is partly due to the miking. It is a huge voice indeed. I appreciate her singing less when I listen with headphones on, it is a voice that really needs room.
Some British and American critics commented negatively on her French. I think it is foremost her voice type that is un-french. I read the two comments on Amazon France, and there were no complaints about her French. One reviewer found the love duet between Samson and Dalila `inoubliable de sensualité' unforgettably sensuous!

The rest of the cast is quite good, Renato Bruson and Robert Lloyd.

The recordings were made in 1978, immediately after the festival production in France, at the amphitheater at Orange. I'm sure it was a terrific experience attending the performances in the open air! Same theater as the video production of Norma with Montserrat Caballe.

So, what to do if you want to buy S&D? I have the version with Jose Cura and Olga Borodina too. I think that is a safer choice, I really love that recording! Read the reviews of it. If you can stand historical sound, the 1946 version, directed by Louis Fourestier, is very interesting and beautiful indeed, With Heléne Bouvier and José Luccioni. You can listen to it on Youtube, or buy the MP3 on Amazon.co.uk.

But if you want an additional S&D, the Barenboim version is worth considering. I'm sure I will return to it every now and then. You can listen on Youtube to several versions of Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix by Obraztsova, and you see yourself how you respond to her voice. There are still copies to be found on amazon.co.uk marketplace at a low price. I have the issue with Domingo as Samson on the cover, which has a libretto in French, English and German. There is a later issue as well, without libretto.


Madame Butterfly
Madame Butterfly
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £22.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Butterfly, 3 Jun 2013
This review is from: Madame Butterfly (Audio CD)
I really have a soft spot for this Madama Butterfly, it was recorded 1980 and I bought it around 1985, it was my first Butterfly and for a long time the only one I had. So I listened to it quite often. I find it very beautiful, with two youthful, fresh voices for Cio-Cio San and Pinkerton. The Hungarian Veronica Kincses has a lovely lyrical voice, and Peter Dvorsky sings a fine, radiant, italianate Pinkerton. Kincses convincingly changes her voice in the development of the character, girlish and smiling in the first act, with increasing maturity towards the dramatic end. The Hungarian mezzo Klara Takacs too has a lovely voice, that she can use in a lyric and dramatic way. Lajos Miller sings Sharpless and has a pleasant voice. The Hungarian State Opera Orchestra produces beautifull, sensuous sound. It is an analogue recording, but very well remastered
I think what touches me is that I find this an emotionally honest, warm and loving recording, I have the two volume Austrian `Opern auf Schalplatten' (Opera on Record) by the Viennese opera critics Karl Löbl and Robert Werba, and the authors find this Butterfly `really excellent'.
Unfortunately there is no possibility to listen to samples on Amazon, nor on Youtube. But if you would like to have an impression of what Kincses and Dvorsky sound like in Puccini, you can listen to the final scene of La Boheme on Youtube.


Strauss - Elektra - excs
Strauss - Elektra - excs
Price: £10.29

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars electrifying Elektra's, 31 Dec 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was quite thrilled when I found out about this release. For a personal reason: I studied privately with the second Elektra on this disc, the Dutch Marijke van der Lugt.

I remember her story about this perfomance. She studied Elektra in Germany and her teacher recommended her to go and see the production with Astrid Varnay in Düsseldorf. She went there and was utterly impressed : I'll never ever be able to give a performance like that! Shortly after Varnay fell ill and van der Lugt replaced her with tremendous succes.

The first result of this succes was that she sang about 20 performances of Turandot at the Düsseldorf Opera House in 1964, and then in december started this new production of Elektra. And she was a very interesting Elektra indeed. Strauss and Wager were very much her 'Fach', she sang Brünhilde and Isolde and performed in Londen, Berlin and Vienna. Her voice was exceptionally huge. The booklet says: "Contemporary witnesses still speak enthusiastically of the fullness and carrying power of her voice". The recordings are acceptable. They were made by the conductor Quennet himself who recorded a number of performances as a kind of check.

Quennet is an interesting conductor, not very subtle maybe, but he really knows how to give these performances emotional power. Van der Lugt told me that in her production the scene was almost completely grey, with sudden outburst of coloured light.

Astrid Varnay is of course much better known and most people will buy this disc because of her. And they will not be disappointed...

I was very impressed too by Jean Madeira as Klytamnestra. She has a wonderfull dark and expressive voice.

Recommended for Elektra lovers!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 30, 2013 1:39 PM GMT


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