Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Rothenberger, Gedda, Prey|
Listen to Samples
An Enjoyable But Often Ignored Opera
Timothy Kearney | Hull, MA United States | 01/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Flotow's opera MARTHA was once a very popular and frequently performed opera, but today, with the exception of its well known tenor aria "Ach so fromm," usually sung in Italian, the work is relatively unknown. Yet it was for many years a staple at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and a favorite of tenor Enrico Caruso. It is comic opera, originally performed in German, but there are also French and Italian versions of the work as well. It tells the story of a high class woman who becomes a farm maid just to overcome boredom, and falls in love with the owner of the farm. The plot formula is not all that original, the two meet and fall in love, something threatens the love, but all ends happily ever after. If the plot is not all that original, the music is very rich and melodious. Martha is not a singspiel, meaning that the music is continuous without spoken dialogue. While it has a light feeling to it like an operetta, the music is as sophisticated as many of the more serious German operas.The opera has a rousing overture that is sometime performed in concert halls as a free standing work. There are many lively ensembles, arias duets as well as choral parts. Listeners will not only be familiar with Lyonel's famous aria, but also an aria based on the Irish folk song "The Last Rose of Summer" which helps give this German opera a bit of local color since it takes place in the British countryside (at the time the opera was composed, Britain occupied all of Ireland). In this recording, Nicolai Gedda is Lyonel, one of the tenor's favorite roles. The recording dates back to the late 1960's and Gedda is in top vocal form. His love interest, Lady Harriet is sung by Anneliese Rothenberger. The versatile and gifted baritone Hermann Prey is Plunkett. The recording is superb, and after listening to it, many would wonder why the opera is not performed more often."
Beautiful, underappreciated opera
D. R. Schryer | Poquoson, VA United States | 12/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Martha is one of the most tuneful operas ever written. In the 19th century -- and even in the first half of the 20th century -- its beauty made it a favorite in Germany and reasonably popular in the U.S. Unfortunately, the old-fashioned romance of its plot has caused Martha to fall out of favor in these unromantic times. But the melodic beauty of Martha is as appealing now as it ever was if you will listen to it without bias. I love this beautiful opera -- it's on my personal top ten list, ahead of many operas which are far more famous. I particularly love this performance which is the finest ever recorded with outstanding singing in every role. Unfortunately, this superb recording has been unavailable on CDs for some time. If you love great opera -- or simply beautiful music -- I beg you to acquire this overlooked treasure now that it's available again."
A warmly atmospheric performance of this charming work
G.D. | Norway | 12/12/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Flotow's sentimental, overly romantic but rather heart-warmingly charming opera Martha has managed to retain a toe-hold in the repertoire, although it seems that the toehold is becoming more and more precarious. Well, what should one expect from an opera more or less built around the beautiful but equally sentimental Last Rose of Summer? In short, this is a work asking for trouble, but listening to it I am actually surprised - impressed, might be a better word - at the extent to which Flotow is able to avoid tipping the work over into the sloshy vulgarity that obviously lurks in the neighborhood. Still, one has to listen to it for what it is; an attractive, modestly touching, pleasing and pleasant and - not the least - richly melodic work that is bound to cheer you up and warm you up without any pretentions of being profound.
I guess one virtue of the set at hand is that Heger and his forces seem very much aware of what the opera is and what it isn't, and also how to make what it is actually work. Atmosphere seems to be the first requirement - the crowd-scenes, for instance, are splendidly done in that respect, and in general the attempt at breathing life and spirit into the score succeeds marvelously. The cast is generally wonderful. Rothenberger and Gedda as Harriet and Lionel are very good - Rothenberger sings beautifully, even though the character lacks perspective; almost the opposite is the case with Gedda, his character is vividly portrayed but he sometimes misses out on the actual singing. On the other hand, the second couple, with Fassbänder and Prey as Nancy and Plunkett, are excellently sung with verve and color.
Most of the other parts are at least competently taken, and Heger leads a fine, warm performance, beautifully paced and full of ... cherish, perhaps? In short, a fun, tender rendition of a work that one might easily come to treasure for its innocent charms. Sound quality is good and this set is overall warmly recommended."