Carlos Kleiber's 1977 La Traviata is a rare gestalt among studio opera recordings, and it is one of the conductor's finer achievements. Kleiber knits the score together with unwavering rhythmic and dramatic intensity, never allowing any single moment to eclipse the larger scene or musical structure. The singers are kept on a tight leash – given enough room to shape phrases and cadences, but not to indulge in sheer vocal display. The orchestra is similarly focused on realizing every detail of rhythm, melody, and articulation with vivid intensity. As a result, favorite arias, duets, and ensembles melt into the surrounding scenes in a way that invites curiosity about the drama at large while propelling it relentlessly forward. The general pace may strike some as a bit fast, but it's never boring, and frequently brilliant.
In honor of the Tito Gobbi centenary (in 2013), the Associazione Musicale Tito Gobbi has unearthed and released this Otello, performed in the courtyard of the Doge's Palace in Venice, in August 1966. While technical challenges involved in broadcasting a production back in the '60s, from a venue not designed for theater, caused occasional problems involving camera work and sound, the resulting black-and-white video is well worth having, particularly for Gobbi's brilliant Iago. Although an earlier Gobbi Iago is available from VAI, filmed in Japan in 1959 opposite Mario Del Monaco's titanic Moor, this later document finds the extraordinary baritone no less nimble physically and vocally. In fact, the vastness of the performing area and the evocative atmosphere of the Palazzo Ducale seem to draw from Gobbi a sort of ownership of the environment that is perfect for Iago, as he darts about controlling events like a sardonic puppeteer. And, as one recalls from performances at the Met six months after this one, Gobbi was able to imbue the character with a youthful, amicable persona that made Iago's vile deeds all the more chilling. This video also confirms the recollection that this role, even in late career, was one the great singing actor found vocally congenial. There is a lightness of delivery that makes Iago's Act I drinking song and Act III duet with Cassio particularly stunning. Textual and tonal colors are employed in a manner that feels inevitable rather than applied, and Iago's "Credo" might as well have been written for Gobbi, so perfectly does it suit his gifts. All in all, this is a dazzling performance.
Carlos Kleiber was perhaps the most highly regarded conductor of the late 20th century, but his relatively few excursions into the studio have left the musical world with a frustratingly small number of recordings. Thus we are particularly fortunate that, from among the relatively few appearances in his career, several concerts, one operetta and two operas were filmed. This concert with the Bayerisches Staatsorchester from Munich's Herkulessaal in October 1996 was on of his last.
Carlos Kleiber was perhaps the most highly regarded conductor of the late 20th century, but his relatively few excursions into the studio have left the musical world with a frustratingly small number of recordings. Thus we are particularly fortunate that, from among the relatively few appearances in his career, several concerts, one operetta and two operas were filmed.
"The Kleiber must-haves are two New Year's concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic (1989, from Deutsche Grammophon; 1992, from Philips). Here is the very essence of joyous music-making with the added visual value of the sumptuous large hall of the Musikverein in Vienna." - New York Times
The Vienna Carmen from 1978 is a sensational filmed document from the musical legacy of Carlos Kleiber: the meticulous conductor only ever conducted a highly selected repertoire, and among his very few audio and video recordings are only seven complete operas.
The epic grandeur of Der Rosenkavalier stems not just from its immense length (over three hours) but from the all-too-human complexity of its characters–each of whom is smitten with someone else–and the endless stream of graceful melodies the composer conjures. After the tonality-stretching dissonance of Salome and especially Elektra, Strauss moved onto a different musical path here: the music's sheer gorgeousness has given this most heartbreaking of 20th-century operas its pride of place in the repertory.
Even though Macbeth is the title character of Verdi's opera, most people will choose a recording of it based on the performer of the role of Lady Macbeth. My own opinion is that Elena Souliotis is, more than any other singer I have heard in this music, just right for the part.Verdi clearly stated that he wanted a harsh, choked sound from his Lady Macbeth.
Given the depth, range and quality of the Deutsche Grammophon catalogue, it’s hardly been difficult to put together another anthology of great recordings and great artists. The structure is as before – here are 53 original albums (including three double-sets), featuring the great names of Deutsche Grammophon’s recording history, presented, once more, in alphabetical order of artist. Claudio Abbado leads off with a complete Carmen and Krystian Zimerman rounds off with his memorable account of the Chopin Ballades.