Friday, October 04, 2013

Awaiting Ticket

And while I wait, I am listening to recordings and a podcast. Some links and observations:
  • The podcast is here (h/t Bill K., with thanks). Only quibble so far: I alternate between calling it Frau and FROSCH.
  • If you have one of those all-access Google Music subscriptions, the Solti recordings, which is complete, is available streaming.
  • I have a vague feeling that the Sawallisch is better conducted than the Solti, but holy cow, Domingo!!! Yeah, his German isn't ideal, but wow. He sounds fabulous, and how many tenors do you call fabulous in Strauss? (The entire Solti cast sings like gods, actually.)
  • The libretto is just as loathsome as I remember. Good thing the music is beyond fabulous.
  • The only previous time I saw Frau was in 1989, in SF. Gwyneth Jones was the Dyer's Wife, and she was on, and on fire.
  • Listening to the opera for the first time in about five years, I wanted to strangle the falcon by the end of Act I.
  • The first time I heard Patricia Racette, she was singing the Voice of the Falcon in that 1989 production.
  • The Guardian of the Threshold of the Temple is possibly my favorite character name in all of opera, equaled - maybe - by the Omniscient Mussel. (And someday I'll see Die Aegyptische Helene, I hope.)
  • You have not lived until you've heard Leonie Rysanek as the Empress. There are better-sung performances; Cheryl Studer is certainly more accurate, and achieves a kind of otherworldly tone that is just right for the character. But Rysanek owned this role for about 30 years, with good reason. Fortunately, you can hear her in several commercially-released and numerous pirate recordings.


Alex Ross said...

The live Böhm recording with Rysanek as the Empress and Nilsson as the Dyer's Wife is totally staggering, despite the deep cuts.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I believe I've got that one on LP, and that I listened to it a fair amount in the 90s after making cassettes. VPO, with King, Berry, and Hesse?

Henry Holland said...

I love this opera, despite it's kinda creepy "Babies! Babies! BABIES!!!" plot. I've only seen two productions:

1) That 1989 SFO production, one of the very first operas I went to. Loved Anja Silja as Die Amme, loved the sets.

2) The wonderful David Hockney production here in Los Angeles in 1993, I think with Dame Gwyneth again.

As for recordings, this is my favorite:


Yikes, even with cuts, it's still 195 minutes long!

Lisa Hirsch said...

That is a hilariously correct precis of the plot. I stood through the 1989 production, back in the day when they had standing room in the Dress Circle, and I had not, to that point, heard a note of the music. I hadn't bothered to read the libretto, either. I I remember at the end being completely overwhelmed by the music and equally horrified by the story.