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Subject: Mozart conductors (was: Re: Examples of supreme singing of Mozart arias)
From: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 24 Sep 2016 08:27:26 -0700
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Two conductors, not particularly among the superstar elite, who I found consistently excellent in Mozart were Christoph Eschenbach and Donald Runnicles.  Both of them make (or made - I don’t know if Eschenbach still conducts opera at all) the orchestra another character in the opera, enlivening and illuminating it as the instrumentalists agreed with, contradicted and commented on what the singers were saying.

A year ago at the Edinburgh Festival, I saw and heard quite a striking “Nozze di Figaro” conducted by the Ivan Fisher and his Budapest-based orchestra.  You couldn’t miss it as the orchestra and conductor were on stage and the singers moved around and through the players throughout the show, sometimes addressing “asides” to, for example, a viola player.

I’ve always really like Giulini (and wish autocorrect wouldn’t keep trying to turn him into the ex-New York mayor) in Mozart.  There’s his famous studio EMI recording of “Don Giovanni” but there’s also a very striking Rome Radio performance from 1969 or 1970 (don’t remember which) with an interesting and characterful cast that includes Ghiaurov, Janowitz (as Donna Anna), Jurinac (a bit late in the day for Elvira, but still wonderful), Bruscantini, Alfredo Kraus and only let down by the bland Olivia Milakovic as Zerlina.

Unfortunately, given its date, the mono sound is surprisingly cramped and often overloaded.  Why is it that so many Italian broadcasts, whether from RAI, Rome Opera, La Scala or elsewhere always seemed to have such totally crappy sound compared with German and Austrian broadcasts of the same period?

Max Paley

> On Sep 23, 2016, at 7:03 PM, Tom Wikman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> I've heard many fine and even great Giovanni casts. But tragically, I'veheard very few great Giovanni conductors. I've heard big-name conductorsjust slaughter the piece. Most of these have probably been folks who havemade their names conducting symphony orchestras. Mostly, their faultsare two-fold. 1) Total inability to conduct accompanied recitative. These arelargely where the singers do their major acting. They are written metricallyon the page, but are not performed that way. The conductor must be ready 
> jump in on a split-second notice, no matter what the page says. Many times,these orchestral interjections are very difficult for the instrumentalists, especiallyif the emotions are very agitated. Anything less than supreme command fromthe conductor usually results in disaster. 2) Total inability to immediately establishthe correct tempo for the aria or ensemble that follows. I've known many greatsymphonic players who have played very little opera. I have had to explain at lengththat just a couple of metronome markings off on an aria can turn what shouldhave been a great performance into a painful throwaway. Also, many are absolutely attacca from the recit; anything less completely falls on its face. If it is an ensemble 
> that follows, perfection is even more critical, as you probably are facing many timechanges. Putting a wrong foot forward endangers whole scenes.
> Now, of course, I'm not referring to Boehm (or Pritchard), but sometimes I've wantedto scream at conductors who have out a lot of recordings, but are crapping all overone of the great operatic creations. Reiner began his conducting classes at Curtisaddressing these two concerns, and if you couldn't master them, pronounced you"Total unbegabt!" (totally untalented.) 
> 
>    On Friday, September 23, 2016 7:21 PM, Kenneth Bleeth <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> 
> My contribution (among many possibilities); the third act Count-Susanna
> duet from *Figaro*, Irmgard Seefried and George London, Karajan conducting,
> 1950. Seefried is especially bewitching.
> 
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBdbivyXo2Q
> 
> Ken Bleeth
> 
> On Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 8:02 PM, tom ponti <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
>> My greatest Don Giovanni performance had: Siepi, Sutherland, Lorengar,
>> Gedda, and I think Flagello conducted by Karl Bohm. Not sure who the
>> Zerlina was or the year, probably mid to late sixties. Kiri Te kanawa's
>> Dove Sono was one of the most beautifully sung arias I ever heard at the
>> Met, one Saturday night.
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> ________________________________
>> From: Discussion of opera and related issues <[log in to unmask]>
>> on behalf of Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Friday, September 23, 2016 7:23 PM
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Re: [OPERA-L] Examples of supreme singing of Mozart arias
>> 
>> If it is possible that a complete performance of a Mozart
>> opera exists that might be considered as "supreme singing
>> of a Mozart opera" the 1957-8 production of Don Giovanni
>> at the Met comes as close as this World has ever offered, at
>> least in my experience -
>> 
>> Steber, Della Casa, Peters, Valletti, Siepi, Corena and
>> Uppman, conducted by Bohm - was my first experience
>> with a Mozart opera, though I saw first in 59-60, and it
>> has informed my ideas of great Mozart singing (and
>> conducting) for nearly sixty years. I went to every
>> performance in the 59-60 season, and I was fortunate
>> to see George London as an almost equally compelling
>> Don, and Lucine Amara as a fine Elvira. The revival
>> approached perfection!
>> 
>> BTW, Sena Jurinac  as Ilia was as great as Mozart
>> singing ever gets, and I would suggest that Pilar
>> Lorengar at Salzburg in 1961 approaches her.
>> I doubt that this forum could ever exhaust the list of
>> great Mozart vocal performances. I could do hundreds
>> without hesitation.
>> 
>> Bob
>> 
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