OPERA ARIAS & DUETS

Review by: Robert Levine

Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 10

These highlights from Wagner’s operas were recorded in 1957, just as Birgit Nilsson was becoming the world’s leading Wagnerian soprano and Hans Hotter was still holding fast to the title of world’s leading Wagnerian bass-baritone. What we get is remarkable indeed: Nilsson is utterly secure in all of the bigger moments of every selection and learning to scale back her immense sound for the more tender moments of each, while Hotter is in wonderfully fresh voice. He begins the Dutchman’s “Wie aus die ferne” at a truly neurotic whisper and he captures the character’s obsessiveness with sound and phrasing throughout. Nilsson’s Senta is involved and thoroughly trusting. The long, final scene from Walküre turns out to be a treasure, with each singer at his (her) best: Nilsson grows in stature as her pleas to Wotan become more desperate, with the voice alternately gleaming and urgent, while Hotter’s Wotan reaches heights of emotional pain that are almost unbearable. This is a lesson in great Wagner singing and great acting–and it’s a must have. Leopold Ludwig’s leadership is both strong and sympathetic and Walter Legge’s Philharmonia Orchestra (and recording!) do the singers and music proud. This CD is a privilege to hear. [11/18/2000]



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Recording Details:

Album Title: OPERA ARIAS & DUETS
Reference Recording: none

RICHARD WAGNER - Excerpts from Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Der fliegende Holländer, Die Walküre


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