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Tales of Opera
     

Tales of Opera

5.0 1
by Simon Keenlyside
 
Baritone Simon Keenlyside is a rarity in an era of focus on specific repertoires: a real operatic generalist whose interests and expertise range from the very earliest -- "L'Orfeo" -- to the newest -- premieres of Adès' "The Tempest" and Maazel's "1984." Tales of Opera is limited to just a fraction of that span, from the late eighteenth to

Overview

Baritone Simon Keenlyside is a rarity in an era of focus on specific repertoires: a real operatic generalist whose interests and expertise range from the very earliest -- "L'Orfeo" -- to the newest -- premieres of Adès' "The Tempest" and Maazel's "1984." Tales of Opera is limited to just a fraction of that span, from the late eighteenth to the very early twentieth centuries. The album's focus on the standard repertoire seems geared to bringing Keenlyside, whose discography, which, with a few exceptions, is weighted toward less familiar works, to the attention of the traditional opera lover. (This is supported by the tone of the program notes, which consist of Keenlyside's personal reflections on these arias, assuming the listeners' prior familiarity with them.) That's a highly appropriate goal for this old-fashioned recital because Keenlyside's mastery of this stylistically diverse music ought to have strong appeal to any audience, as well as anyone who loves lyrical bel canto singing, and vivid, intelligent dramatic characterizations. The album includes many of the standard baritone showpieces, and Keenlyside doesn't disappoint in his delivery. The most striking thing about his voice is the way he uses the arsenal of tonal colors at his disposal in the service of creating dramatically delineated characters -- his versatile instrument can be warmly enveloping, piercingly incisive, or charmingly silly. The expansiveness and depth of "Oh, du mein holder Abendstern" is breathtaking; Keenlyside (with Wagner's help) transports the listener into the solitude of a starlit night as surely as a visual image could. With the first notes of the Prologue to "I Pagliacci," he is fully convincing in establishing his identity as a small-time, regional theater director peeking around the curtain. His gift of musical humor pops out in "Largo al factotum" and in Papageno's aria "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen." In "Di provenza il mar," he's meltingly lyrical and achingly poignant. The diversity of roles on the CD leaves the listener eager to hear Keenlyside in a wider variety of complete operas. Ulf Schirmer leads the Münchner Rundfunkorchester in a fully responsive accompaniment. Sony's sound is clean and vibrant, with good balance.

Editorial Reviews

Newark Star-Ledger - Bradley Bambarger
1/2 Keenlyside's virtuoso vocal acting makes even the "Largo al Factotum" from Rossini's "Barber of Seville" sound fresh. A melodious number from Cilea's "L'Arlesiana" -- the disc's highlight -- and the sublime "Evening Star" aria from Wagner's "Tannhäuser" find his tone sonorous, his phrasing subtly communicative.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/25/2007
Label:
Sony Classics
UPC:
0886971306729
catalogNumber:
713067

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Il barbière di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Largo al factotum della città

    1. Largo al factotum della città  (05:01)
  2. Guillaume Tell (William Tell), opera: Sois immobile

    1. Sois immobile  (02:31)
  3. Hérodiade, opera in 4 acts: Vision Fugitive

    1. Vision Fugitive  (04:28)
  4. Don Carlo, opera: Per me guinto è il di

    1. Per me guinto è il di  (08:22)
  5. Un ballo in maschera, opera: Eri tu che macchiavi quell'anima

    1. Eri tu che macchiavi quell'anima  (06:06)
  6. La Traviata, opera: Di provenza il mar

    1. Di provenza il mar  (04:21)
  7. Hamlet, opera in 5 acts: O vin, dissipe la tristesse

    1. O vin, dissipe la tristesse  (03:58)
  8. I Puritani, opera: Ah! Per sempre io ti perdei

    1. Ah! Per sempre io ti perdei  (05:27)
  9. Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), opera, K. 620: Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen

    1. Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen  (04:12)
  10. Pagliacci, opera: Si può, si può

    1. Si può, si può  (05:29)
  11. L'Arlesiana, opera: Come due tizzi accesi

    1. Come due tizzi accesi  (03:42)
  12. Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades), opera, Op. 68: Ja vas ljublju

    1. Ja vas ljublju  (04:55)
  13. Don Giovanni, opera, K. 527: Dah vieni alla finestra

    1. Dah vieni alla finestra  (02:14)
  14. Zaide, opera, K. 344 (K. 336b): Nur mutig, mein Herz, versuche dein Glück

    1. Nur mutig, mein Herz, versuche dein Glück  (05:27)
  15. Tannhäuser, opera, WWV 70: Oh, du mein holder Abendstern

    1. Oh, du mein holder Abendstern  (05:14)

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Tales of Opera 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Simon Keenlyside has been a staple of the European operatic stage for nearly 10 years and is only now coming to prominence in the US, largely due to the fact that American opera houses are ludicrously cavernous and Mr. Keenlyside's voice is just now filling out and filling up the MET. On his CD, we find a veritable "Greatest Hits for Baritone" in his song selection. The best tracks here are the ones in French, his easy projection and fine placement suiting the difficult vowels of the French laguage perfectly. His Italian is idiomatic as well, the baritone's rendition of "Largo al factotum" from the Barber of Seville--arguably the most well-known operatic piece ever written--is a barn burner, his fioratura and top Gs astounding. There is also a splendid high A and A-flat in the selections from L'Arlesiana and Pagliacci, respectively. Keenlyside delivers a solid, well rounded performance, though one wishes for the Champagne Aria from Don Giovanni (one of Keenlyside's signature roles), Valentin's selection from Faust and the Toreador Song from Carmen, and perhaps Pierrot's Lied form Die Tote Stadt and the remaining Papgeno arias in place of the heavier Wagner and Verdi, but all told this is a magnificent recital CD from a truly gifted artist. Not to be missed!