The Solti show

The recording of Richard Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten made at the Salzburg Festival in 1992 is very much Sir Georg Solti’s show.  The conducting is superb and the Vienna Philharmonic, of course, respond for Solti.  From the opening, shattering cords through the various orchestral interludes to the final ensemble and chorus Solti is utterly convincing in his command of tempi and dynamics.

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Die tote Stadt

My acquaintance with Korngold’s Die tote Stadt has been pretty much limited to recital and competition performances of Glück, das mir verlieb, better known as Marietta’s Lied and, apparently, the last opera aria to become a hit single and Fritz’ act 2 piece Mein Sehnen, mein Wähnen.  So, I was quite glad to get my hands on a complete recording of this lushly lyrical and rather weird piece.  The “dead city” of the title is Brugge and the story concerns a wealthy man, Paul, who has turned his house, and his life, into a shrine to his dead wife Marie.  He encounters a dancer, Marietta, who very closely resembles his late wife.  What follows is wild and chaotic and is, ultimately, revealed to be a dream.  Paul realises that only in the next world can he be reunited with Marie. Continue reading

Fear and loathing in Mycenae

OK, I have shamelessly stolen the title of this post from the DVD booklet because it’s just a perfect description of Götz Friedrich’s 1981 film version of Strauss’ Elektra.  It’s one of those lip-synched films where the soundtrack is recorded in the studio and then the filming is synched to the sound track.  Mercifully the singers are also the actors.  I hate it when they use body doubles. Continue reading

A blast from the past

The 1983 Royal Opera house production of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut is probably a pretty good representation of what that annoying person at your local opera company’s season launch means when they ask why they can’t have productions the way they used to be.  Except it’s a rather exceptionally good example of what s/he means. Continue reading

Barbarella, Prinzessin von Judea

Götz Friedrich’s 1974 film of Strauss’ Salome is a bit of an oddity. It’s a studio film rather than a video recording of a live performance. This allows the casting of singers who might not be able to manage the role in the opera house. In this case, crucially, the light lyric soprano Teresa Stratas sings the title role which she most certainly never did on stage. Continue reading