Look! No swan

1.kingSurprisingly perhaps I started out liking this 1986 recording of Lohengrin from the Metropolitan Opera quite a lot.  It’s a very traditional, literal and 70s/80s dark production but the orchestra and chorus are great, the P-regie seems pretty well thought out and the singing in the opening scenes is great.  Unfortunately it really rather goes downhill once Elsa, Lohengrin and Ortrud make their appearances.

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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

Birgit Nilsson’s Elektra

I grew up with the Solti Ring and Nilsson’s Immolation Scene still makes the hair on my neck bristle.  The 1980 video recording of her performance in the title role of Strauss’ Elektra at the Metropolitan Opera really doesn’t have the same effect.  The voice is accurate enough, there’s still a lot of power and the vocal acting is good but somehow the voice seems to have hollowed out and to lack resonance.  Admittedly she’s not helped by the recording which seems to favour the orchestra over the voices fairly consistently.  The other sopranos suffer from the acoustic/recording too but come off better and if Leonie Rysanek really had a high fever it’s not obvious.  Mignon Dunn’s Clytemnestra is also well sung.  The orchestra plays wonderfully for James Levine and gets much better treatment from the sound engineers. Continue reading