Thursday, 19 June 2008

Renée Fleming finally with Arabella on DVD


Excerpt from Renée Fleming´s portrait of Arabella ("Aber der richtige") from the DVD just released from the Zurich Opera House:


The production is an old one by Götz Friedrich. Danish barytone Morten Frank Larsen was a last-minute replacement for Thomas Hampson as Mandryka. Welser-Möst conducts.

Renée Fleming really shines in Richard Strauss´ music as virtually nobody else on stage today. 50 years ago, she would have had some tough competition, though:

Lisa della Casa also with "Aber der richtige" from Arabella.

As an afterthought (see comment one), there is another singer of today, who belongs here:


Karita Mattila again with "Aber der richtige" from Arabella (production from Paris). The beauty of her middle register is just immense..

9 comments:

NV said...

Sorry for Mrs Fleming but I do not see any competition...

Voice, charm, lightness, are all on Lisa della Casa's side...


I am afraid we are still waiting for a correct arabella on dvd.

Kiri te Kanawa is nice (a little bit aloof) but her mandryka is a disaster (Wolfgang Brendel).

Gundula Janowitz is a goddess but she acts awfully bad, the Mandryka is just average, and the lip-synching is unbearable.

Maybe somebody could publish the Paris production with Karita Mattila, Thomas Hampson and Barbara Bonney...

mostly opera... said...

Yes, I realize I should have added Karita Mattila´s Paris version to this post as well (now done)..the beauty of her voice is just incredible.

marcillac said...

The Fleming Arabella I heard at the Met was an huge let down. Multiple intonation difficulties and serious problmes in the high register. She was having probably the vorst vocal evening of her's that I've encountered and it was the more disappointing becuase it came in repertoire for which is so superbly suited. Unforutnately I was very busy and unable to see another performance during that run and she has not returned to it at the Met. (I'll certainly get the DVD to give her a try).

Rest assured that she seemed to be in unusually splendid voice in the Vienna Capriccio.

I've heard Te Kanawa in live opera preformances precisely twice, in Arabella and Capriccio respectively and while the Arabella lacked commitment she was great in Capriccio. Vocally she was quite excllent both times though better in the Capriccio. This was particularly noteworthy since she was 54 at the time.

I certainly hope Fleming has at least 5 or 6 good years left and that she will devote them to more suitable and entertaining repertoire than Rodelinda and Il Pirata {long string of creative expletives redacted - HT:Swindle}

She does have Rosenkavlier and Capriccion scheduled at he Met and Ariadna sound OK. Your suggestions of the Elsa and the Empress are splendid but she seems to give no indication they are in the cards.

mostly opera... said...

On second thought Elsa probably wouldn´t suit her and the tessitura in the Empress is just so high..
You didn´t mention her upcoming Lucrezia Borgia /&%&%¤!

marcillac said...

...and don't forget Armida

Gandharva said...

Fleming may be the star, but how about the little known Julia Kleiter? She seems to be in great vocal form - radiant and pure of tone. I don't know if that clip is representative of the entire performance, but she was certainly able to hold her own with Fleming in the duet.

NV said...

I never had luck with Renée Fleming . I saw her live only once, singing Tatiana in NY. They announced she was ill but that she had decided to sing to save the evening. She didn’t save much. The flu, or whatever it was , prevented her to maintain any vocal line in the letter scene and the final duet wasn’t better. I bought the DVD as a “souvenir”. They have recorded her in better form but she still has problem with the vocal line. I am not taking into consideration the fact that she was not a very convincing 18 year old girl. (That’s the rule in opera but a (roughly) fifty–year old Scotto was more successful in this way in Manon Lescaut…).

Forgetting this bad evening (well bad… no… Dimitri H. and Maestro Gergiev were really good), I concentrated on CDs and DVDs to make myself an opinion on Renée Fleming. I can understand what has made Fleming’s success. The sound of her voice is deliciously creamy and her pianissimi are marvellous. But I think that, even at her best, she has not this ‘long vocal line’ necessary to compete with the best singers. As in Desdemona (with Domingo at the met ), I generally like the sound, but I don’t enter the melody, as if it was systematically interrupted by something I can’t easily define. At this level, it can’t be a matter of breathing. So I call it a question of style… Even the Paris production of Capriccio which was a critical hit, is not entirely convincing. She has the charm and the elegance of Countess Madeleine but at the end she doesn’t inspire half of the elation effect given by Schwarzkopf or (my favourite), Janowitz. This problem is particularly striking in the Lucrezia Borgia excerpt you find below here (with my grudging comments).

I fear that, as far as Renée Fleming is concerned, things past redress are now with me past care. I have a last chance to change my mind next year in Paris in Rosenkavalier (concert version at the theatre des Champs-Elysées) .

Anonymous said...

I was there in the theater when this very same production of Arabella (by Götz Friedrich) was first unveiled in Zurich way back in May of 2000 with this unparalleled cast: Cheryl Studer (Arabella), Wolfgang Brendel (Mandryka), Piotr Beczala (Matteo), Dawn Kotoski (Zdenka), Irene Friedli (card reader), Cornelia Kallisch (Adelaide), Alfred Muff (Count Waldner), Erika Miklosa (Fiakermilli) and others. Franz Welser-Möst also conducted those performances. At the time it got practically no press coverage probably because it didn't involve the marketing hype that is Renee Fleming. This video does not capture the magic, neither of the production nor of the singing. The cast in 2000 had everything you could possibly want for making this work a success. Cheryl Studer was splendid then and so was everyone else. But Renee Fleming ruins the proceedings with her vulgar blues-and-jazz infected singing (which has nothing to do with the Strauss idiom) and her inability to act or move convincingly. Fleming's stage demeanor is too reminiscent of a modern day country & western singer or of your average suburban soccer mom. She adds nothing to the role and, in fact, takes away a lot. Wish the folks at DECCA had filmed the other cast for a winning release. Avoid buying this awful video. A review of the Studer Arabella from Zurich here:

http://listserv.bccls.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0006A&L=OPERA-L&P=R486

marcillac said...

Well, I dunno...

The mannarisms can be massively annoying but when she manages to keep them under control and when the technique doesn't betray her (obviously its impssible to be in voice every time) which it has done very rarely in the roughly 50 times that I have heard her live, the distinctive and quite luxiruous creaminess is not to be despised.

That Paris Rosenkavlier looks really good. If I'm not mistaken she'll have gone 10 years between RKs at the Met and I'm not sure whether she has actually sung it anywhere since 2000. The Damrau Sophie (not usually my thing) should be quite intersting as well. She's probably the only person I'm actually interested in hearing in that role.

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