Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Gundula Janowitz In Concert|
Actors: Gundula Janowitz, Handel, Mozart
Genres: Musicals & Performing Arts
Golden Voice, Indeed !
Go for Baroque | Denver | 10/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Over the years, I have listened to many hours of opera singers, and Gundula Janowitz never ceases to amaze and thrill me. During her performance years (1960s-1990), many European conductors considered her to be "the soprano of choice," and I can hear why: wonderful golden tone, technique far more precise and clear than most sopranos, limited and controlled vibrato, astonishingly long passages uninterrupted by the usual number of breaths taken by most sopranos, and a great musical sense. Visually, the great golden tones appear to emanate from a fairly still face, as opposed to some singers who appear to be chewing bitter shoe leather.
Although recorded as long ago as 1970, the sound is fairly good. In addition to her having been considered to be the unmatched performer of Richard Strauss (not included in this DVD), her Mozart always has been outstanding; and the beauty of her voice in "Crudele? Non mi dir" from "Don Giovanni" is wonderous. Similarly, her von Weber "Wie nahte mir der Schlummer" from "Der Freischutz" is marvelous. With the very intricate, Baroque Handel "Da tempeste il legno infranto" from "Giulio Cesare", I suspect that she performs as well, if not better, than most singers could today (we have no "Farinellis.") She does well with Verdi's "Santo di patria" from "Attila," Puccini's "Vissi d'arte" from "Tosca," and Wagner's "Dich, teure Halle" from "Tannhauser;" however, the Mozart alone is worth the purchase.
Not long ago, I spoke with an opera director about Gundula Janowitz. His opinion was, "There has been no one like her since;" and I can hear why.
Welch schöne Nacht!
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 01/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is apparently one of a series named "Zauber der Stimme", and, for me, Janowitz does indeed provide magic.
The concert, filmed for Austrian television, was clearly something of a homecoming for her, as she studied at the Graz Conservatory and was, by this date, an established international star. Although the recital is short by most standards, her selection of arias is cunningly programmed and moves chronologically from Baroque, through Romantic, to verismo, and back again to the "Tannhäuser" aria for the climax, in order to demonstrate her versatility. Primarily renowned for her Mozart and Strauss roles, she does indeed sing Donna Anna's "Non mi dir" from "Don Giovanni". Otherwise, she selects no Strauss but rather five other seminal operatic composers: Handel, Weber, Verdi, Puccini and Wagner; when you think about it, that's quite some span, especially when she sings the arias as well as this.
The sound, although mono, is better in quality than the grainy black and white picture - but it is perfectly watchable. Three cameras provide unfussy coverage and while Janowitz is not the most animated of stage animals, I would far sooner watch her than the stuffy audience, who seem barely to respond to her singing - not necessarily her fault, I think. She is restrained in her demeanour and the only things which smack of the diva are the big hair and the sequined kaftan. It is clear that her voice easily fills the Stefaniensaal, even if her lower register was never the most refulgent. She seems to be enjoying herself; certainly she makes singing look effortless and her technique allows her to do pretty much everything she wants throughout the demanding programme. For example, she copes easily with both the coloratura and the heft required for the Verdi item. Those familiar with the live recording of her Elisabetta in "Don Carlos", performed with Corelli in Vienna in the same year, will be less surprised by her facility in Verdi. Like all good singers, she does not need to "mouth" the notes, opening wide only to hit those glittering top B's and B flats. She even opens Odabella's aria with a good top C but it's not exactly comfortable, whereas the concluding B flat is a corker. The "Freischütz" aria finds her at her best; she delivers a rapt performance, her creamy tone and seamless legato capturing perfectly first Agathe's dreamy lullaby and then the ecstasy of her love, when Janowitz sparkles. I readily admit that I value her beauty of sound above her powers of characterisation, but I do not necessarily mean that she fails to differentiate between her heroines: Odabella is a real spitfire; her Tosca has a bell-like purity, conveying a vulnerability and innocence which makes a refreshing change, but the concluding B flat is charged with passion; she acquires a glint in the eye for the rapturous Tannhäuser aria - everything works. If I am going to carp, I would say that I could wish her diction were sharper, especially in Italian, but for the most part I found myself swept along by her singing.
Berislav Klobucar and the Graz Philharmonic provide unobtrusive, expert support and play two overtures most agreeably, the Handel being in the old-fashioned, but still enjoyable, style.
"Welch schöne Nacht" indeed. She sounds as if she could sing all night, too, and frankly I'd be willing to stay up all night to hear her.