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Mr. P. H. Murray "Tsaraslondon" (London United Kingdom)

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Maria Callas at Covent Garden [DVD] [2002] [Region 1] [NTSC]
Maria Callas at Covent Garden [DVD] [2002] [Region 1] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Maria Callas

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable document, 4 Oct. 2005
This is a conflation of two rare televised appearances of Callas from Covent Garden. The first was filmed in 1962 and Callas is in surprisingly good voice, considering she had almost given up at this time (her only other appearances that year were a series of concerts - no stage appearances at all). The Verdi is sung with a wealth of detail and expression and she acts out all Elisabetta'a emotions vividly, while hardly moving a muscle. Indeed she is so immersed in her singing that when a large brooch she is wearing dislodges and drops to the floor, she barely notices. She then changes completely into a playful, sexy and dangerous Carmen. What a pity she never wanted to sing the role on stage.
The second part of the DVD is a fully staged performance of Act2 of Tosca with Tito Gobbo and Renato Cioni. Why oh why didn't they have the forseight to film the whole thing? Still I guess we should be grateful for what we have. There are faults - the camera work isn't all it should be - but this is surely the most riveting perofrmance of this act ever committed to film.True, Callas was in better voice when she filmed this same Act in Paris a few years previously (some of the top notes are little better than screams), but I have rarely, if ever, seen opera singers act with such naturalness and abandon. Both Callas and Gobbi are superb. You really forget they are singing and end up being totally drawn in to the performance of two actors. In fact I remember that on the days I worked at the English National Opera shop, whenever we played this video when the audience were gathering for that evening's performance, the tiny little shop would quickly fill up with people who couldn't take their eyes off the television screens. Enough said!

Guilty Too
Guilty Too

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Her Best in Ages, 24 Sept. 2005
This review is from: Guilty Too (Audio CD)
Well there's been a lot of hype attached to this album, but it easily lives up to it and actually exceeds expectations. I admit to being an unashamed Barbra fan, but that said have been a little disappointed with many of her recent albums. This is different and hasn't left my CD player since I bought it. Definitely 5 stars plus. Buy it!

Donizetti: Anna Bolena
Donizetti: Anna Bolena
Price: £23.48

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great performance of a great opera., 21 Jan. 2004
This review is from: Donizetti: Anna Bolena (Audio CD)
Well, let's get over the caveats first. The performance is heavily cut and this is a live performance from 1957, so the sound is certainly lo-fi, though not completely unacceptable. Otherwise, this is a treasurable account of a historic and absolutely thrilling night at La Scala. The cast is not totally ideal; Rossi-Lemeni as Enrico has great authority but his tone is woolly and leaks air at every emission; Raimondi doesn't have the florid technique for Percy (and consequently much of his role is cut), but he does have the requisite italianate tone. The rest is pure gold. Simionato as Giovanna shows just how exciting a singer she was on the stage; her studio recordings do not do her justice. A high point of the set is the duet with Anna, Callas and Simionato first striking sparks off each other and then blending in sublime harmony. As for Callas, this captures her at the absolute height of her interprative powers in a role that was absolutely right for her at this stage of her career. From the gentle, plangent tone she uses in the first aria, through the fire and brimstone of the Act 1 finale, to the exquisite pathos of the final mad scene, she is sublime. A high point of the set is her voicing of "Guidici ad Anna!" just before the Act 1 finale, where all Anna's queenly outrage is brought to bear with almost unbearable intensity. The finale is capped with a ringing high D and the audience quite rightly goes mad. But it is also in quiet moments that Callas is unique. The ovation she receives after the cavtina in the mad scene is the natural outcome from an audience quite obviously unable to hold its breath any longer - and remember this opera was almost completely unknown at the time. Though EMI did not record Callas in many of her greatest roles, it is good to see that they are now repairing the omission with the official release of some of these live performances. Not to be missed.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 21, 2011 9:35 AM GMT

by Christian McLaughlin
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A load of tosh, 2 Nov. 2003
This review is from: Glamourpuss (Hardcover)
I'm not sure why I read this load of rubbish all the way through to the end. There is not a single likeable character in the book. The premise seems to be that it is perfectly ok to break up a long term couple if one of them happens to be physically unattractive. Some justifiaction is given when Barney, the unattractive one, cheats on Nick, the gorgeous one. However as Nick has already been cheating on Barney for some time by then, it kind of cancels it out. Alex, the lead character is a star in a daytime American soap, who falls in love with Barney's other half, Nick. He is totally obsessed with Nick for the whole book and Nick messes him about so much, I kept wanting to shout "Oh for God's sake, forget him. He's not worth the attention!" But Alex hangs on in there, being hurt & humiliated several times along the way, and of course in the end they manage to get together. Personally I thoght they deserved each other. Maybe the resemblance of the novel to one of those trashy soaps is intentional, but somehow I doubt it. Avoid.

Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor
Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor
Offered by Smaller World Future
Price: £54.55

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please note, 13 Sept. 2003
Both the reviews on this page refer to a different recording - the live Callas/Di Dtefano/Karajan from Berlin in 1955 (also on mid-price EMI). That would still be my first choice for a Callas Lucia but this performance (actually the first commercial recording she made for EMI in 1953) is still very fine, with Callas's voice in peak condition. Two wonderfully full high E flats in the mad scene and a great deal of brilliant singing besides.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 14, 2012 9:04 AM GMT

Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £38.61

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Wunderlich, 13 Sept. 2003
This review is from: Dichterliebe (Audio CD)
Two things strike me when listening to Fritz Wunderlich. "Surely this is the most headily beautiful tenor voice ever" and "What a tragedy he died so young". Lest you be tempted to think that you will find something valedictory in this live recording of the last concert he ever gave, his last notes ever captured for posterity, let me straight away disabuse you. This is the work of a singer at the very height of his powers, with still many years ahead of him. If this concert is anything to go by, no doubt these would have been years where his interpretive skills would have been further honed, particularly in the field of Lieder.
Wunderlich was unusual, if not unique, among German tenors in that his impeccable legato remained in tact no matter what language he was singing in. Indeed his recordings of arias by Verdi and Puccini, though mostly sung in German, have an Italianate ardour and passion that would be the envy of many a native Italian tenor. Some have complained that this very ease of emission and beauty of tone act against him when he is singing lieder and his commercial recordings of the same repertoire as at this concert (recorded the previous year for DG) do lack a certain sense if involvement. There is a world of difference between those studio recordings and this concert however, Wunderlich has now thought himself into the plight of the man depicted in the Dichterliebe and here we have all the pain and suffering of a young man. Surely what Heine and Schumann intended. And of course we still have the benefit of that glorious, golden tone.
This is a treasurable memento of a historic occasion and as such should be in any serious collection of vocal music. We are left to wonder what wonders he would have achieved had he not been taken from us so young. Whom the Gods loved indeed.

Verdi: Il Trovatore
Verdi: Il Trovatore
Price: £31.29

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Leonora for all time, 31 July 2003
This review is from: Verdi: Il Trovatore (Audio CD)
I have always considered the Trovatore Leonora to be one of Callas's very greatest roles. Here , less obscured by her undoubted dramatic gifts, we can enjoy the pure musicality of her singing. The timbre is perfect for Leonora - dark, plangent & (apart form at the very top of her register)surpassingly beautiful. The role displays her perfect legato, incredible breath control & accurate coloratura. She also has a wonderful understanding of just how to phrase a Verdian cadenza, quite different from anything she would do in Bellini or Donizetti. You only have to hear her first few phrases to know that this Leonora is an aristocrat. This is where I find Leontyne Price lacking. With undeniably the right sound for the role, she often mars her singing with sketchy coloratura & unmusical cadenzas. Added to Callas, the rest of the cast is just about as perfect as was possible at the time & a good deal better than anything we could manage today. True, Di Stefano lacks the requisite weight, but he sings with such face, it is readily forgiven. Panerai, Barbieri & Zaccaria could hardly be bettered & Karajan was at this time was the perfect conductor for the project. He conducts with great style & dash, while at no time apologising for the occasional vulgarities in the score. More modern recordings are uncut & here we have the cuts traditional at the time, but at least we get one verse of Leonora's cabaletta "tu vedai". The sound has also been remarkably well freshened up in it's present transfer. Unless you really have to have modern stereo digital sound, buy it. And, even if you have another recording, acquire this as well. You won't regret it!

Bellini: Norma
Bellini: Norma
Offered by FastMedia "Ships From USA"
Price: £40.85

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Norma for All Times, 10 July 2003
This review is from: Bellini: Norma (Audio CD)
When deciding on which recording of Norma to add to one's collection, it usually boils down to a choice of two - Callas 1954 or Callas 1960 - both on EMI. The choice is made slightly more difficult by the availability of several live Callas recordings - the best being La Scala 1955. This also stars Simionato & Del Monaco & finds Callas in her best vocal & dramatic form. However, when it comes to the studio recordings, the first (1954) finds her more secure vocally but a little less inside the role. The supporting cast & boxy sound are also a problem. Here the recording is very good 60s stereo. It also houses Corelli's near ideal Pollione & Zaccaria as a melifluous Oroveso. Serafin's conducting is in the central Italian tradition, but here he & the La Scala orchestra are helped by the fuller sound picture. The surprise of the set is the Adalgisa of Ludwig. Her voice was in peak condition at this time, & although her coloratura is not as accurate as Callas's, she sounds, as she should, like the younger woman. On the earlier recording, Stignani can't help sounding somewhat matronly. As for Callas, no other singer comes within a mile of her deep understanding of the role & its many complexities, Often the revelations come in a line of recitative, a moment oter singers may just gloss over. Admittedly, there is some deterioration in the quality of her voice since the earlier recording & many of the upper reaches of the role now have a hard metallic edge. But the coloratura is still fine & she knows just how to match her tone when singing in duet with Ludwig. Just listen to the way she shades the vocal line at her entry into "Mira o Norma". The whole of the "Dormano emtrambi" section is a lesson in how to deliver recitativo accompagnato. This is not one of those sets you can put on in teh background while doing the housework. Sit down, libretto in hand, & listen to it with your whole attention. I challenge you not to be in tears by the end.

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