Boy, is this a lot of fun!
Steven A. Peterson | Hershey, PA (Born in Kewanee, IL) | 10/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is a ton of fun!
It features performances by a very high caliber roster of sopranos, from Eleanor Steber to Birgit Nilsson to Leontyne Price to the elegant Bidu Sayao to the great Renata Tebaldi to Roberta Peters and so on. Let's take a look at some of the pieces portrayed in this DVD, drawn from the archives of the old TV show, "Voice of Firestone." This show--plus the "Bell Telephone Hour"--were great introductions to some of the finest singers of the era.
Eleanor Steber does a nice turn singing "Dove sono" from Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro." This aria is filled with pathos, and Steber sings it well. She displays a rich voice and a poignant characterization.
Joan Sutherland sings an aria, "The Soldier Tir'd" from Arne's "Artaxerxes." Not one of the most sung operas. Sutherland brings her coloratura technique to this piece. Interestingly, her trills are not characteristic of her prime. Nonetheless, she sings a difficult piece with assurance and shows much fine technique. A nice final high note.
Anna Moffo sings a nice version of "The Jewel Song" from "Faust." She had a beautiful soprano voice, and it works well with this piece. Her trill is serviceable but not great. But she provides a nice characterization, consistent with her reputation as a fine actress as well as singer. A lot of fun here.
Helen Traubel sings from "Die Walkure," "Du Bist der Lenz. What a rich, powerful voice--made for Wagner and "The Ring." She seems to me to rank with Flagstad and Nilsson as a Wagnerian soprano.
There is a welcome scene from Puccini's "Gianni Schicchi,""O mio babbino caro," featuring the elegant voice of Bidu Sayao. She was very well regarded in her time for her smooth, elegant style. This cut illustrates that well.
And then there is the wonderful Renata Tebaldi, one of the very best sopranos of her day in her repertoire. She does a superb version of "Un bel di," from Puccini's "Madama Butterfly." The smooth richness of her voice surely labels her as one of the best in her era.
Some more. . . . Roberta Peters does a nice job as The Queen of the Night in the challenging and treacherous "Der Holle Rache." She does a terrific job on the staccato notes and the high notes embedded therein. Her voice is attractive and she appears to capture the nastiness of the character.
And talk about unbridled fun. . . Patrice Munsel takes on "Adele's Laughing Song" from Strauss' "Die Fledermaus." Absolutely infectious. She sings this bon bon well, hitting a final high note and doing a nice job on the staccato notes.
Finally, the operetta star, Jeanette MacDonald. Her voice is not in the same league as those mentioned above. But she made "Naughty Marietta" her own, and the "Italian Street Song" from that work is sung with spirit, with brio. Again, much fun here.
Those who are interested in sopranos from the 1950s and early 1960s will find this a compelling compilation of a variety of fine sopranos. The series of DVDs from this program and "The Bell Telephone Hour" are welcome indeed. And some of us even remember watching some of these classic shows!
You'll Love It
Bruce Varner | Chicago area, USA | 11/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are an opera fan, this DVD is for you. This is a rare chance to watch footage of some of the elite sopranos from the years 1950-1963. On this 50 minute DVD, you get performance footage of Steber, Sutherland, Price, Nilsson, Moffo, Sayao, Tebaldi, Albanese, Traubel, Peters, Munsel, and MacDonald. There performances were captured on the "Voices of Firestone" series, with orchestra and occasional chorus. I loved the whole DVD, but here were my favorite moments.
Joan Sutherland singing "The Soldier Tir'd" from Arne's "Artaxerxes". Dame Sutherland is one of the all-time coloratura queens, and she shows it here. What amazing breath control and spotless coloratura.
Leontyne Price, one of the foremost Aidas ever, singing "O patria mia". It absolutely gave me chills. The aria was beautifully sung, and the pathos of the scene was apparent. If you want to hear what ideal register matching is, check this out.
Anna Moffo singing a very leggiero "Jewel Song". She was such a wonderful musician and a beautiful woman. She's kind of an Anna Netrebko of her day. She looked stunning, bejeweled in a gorgeous concert gown. She had perfect technique and elegant phrasing. She can work a camera.
The great Renata Tebaldi singing "Un bel di vedremo". She has a perfect voice for this aria. I would have preferred to have seen it staged, as Ms. Tebaldi didn't seem particularly comfortable in the setting. It didn't matter, as her musicianship and affinity for Puccini make for a wonderful performance.
Roberta Peters gives us a pair of Mozart arias: "Der Holle Rache" and "Batti, batti, o bel Masetto". The dangerous coloratura in "Der Holle Rache" was note and rythm perfect. Every note in the long lines had integrity. Her Zerlina in "Batti, batti" was really cute, but the staging was "of the time". The singing was fantastic, so you'll be able to overlook the blocking and the "Green Acres" look of Masetto.
Lastly, if you're feeling kind of down, you can watch Patrice Munsel singing "Adele's Laughing Song" (in English) from "Die Fledermaus". It will make you smile every time. It was beautifully sung, and Ms. Munsel showed control of her instrument. She is backed by the Met Chorus on this one.
This is a good DVD for opera fans, especially those on your gift list. What a unique gift this would make. Also, voice students take note. If you want to watch some great technique, watch this. No tension, no oversinging, forward sound, and lined up vowels. These great singers show how it's done.
The Legendary sopranos
Crazy About Books | Skokie, Il United States | 05/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a collection of famous opera arias by great sopranos in the second half of the twentieth century. A truly classic, and should not be missed by all opera lovers. I highly recommend it"