Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Jacques Offenbach, Sylvain Cambreling, Neil Shicoff|
Offenbach - Les contes d'Hoffmann / Shicoff · J. Norman · Plowright · L. Serra · van Dam · Murray · Tear · Cambreling [highlights]
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A review of the whole Opera
Ted Zoldan | Los Angeles, CA, USA | 09/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have not heard this highlights disk, but I do have the whole set, which is unavaible from this site. But if you can find it elsewhere (Towerrecords might have it) it will be worth the money. This is, after all, possably the best HOFFMAN on record, wih only the Bonynge coming close.
This is a recording of the Osear eition of the score, meaning we get extra material like the "trio de Yeux" and a new ending. "Scentille Diamond" is replaced by "Tourne, Tourne" which, of course, is the same music as Coppelius's aria. Niclausse has a beautiful aria in the Antonia act, and the whole Guiletta act (the weakest)is expanded and given a new coat of paint quite succesfully.Camberling and his orchestra make the new material sound as if it should always have been there. We get new arias for Giulietta, a scene for The Muse, and new couplets for Nicklausse in the first act.
The performances range from great to exceptional. Neil Shicoff is one of my favorite tenors. He was the first Hoffman I ever saw and is still one of my favorites. His nervous, impassionate reading of the score is simply perfect. Jose van Dam is exceptional in the four villians, in much better voice here than he is on the Negano, where he is great. Here, he's amazing. Ann Murray is exceptional in the roles of Nickalusse and the Muse, her smooth mezzo voice suiting the role much better than anyone else I've heard.
In the Soprano roles, Luciana Serra is always reliable as Olympia, but her unembelished aria is simply not as impressive as Dessay (The best), Sutherland or even Sills. Still, her trills are pretty enough, just not dazzling. Rosilind Plowright's Antonia is Impressive and touching if not definete. Jessye Norman blows her competators away as Giuletta. Her restored aria is sung with a honeyed tone and her baracolle is beautiful. Her Giuletta is one of those devil-women I love to find in operas.
In the Servant roles, Robert Tear is, as usual, peerless (well, maybe Cuenod). "Jour et Nuit", his big aria is excellent. Kurt Rydl is a touching Crespel and Alexander Oliver is a hysterical Spalanzani, though not as good as Senechal on either of his recordings. Joycline Tallion's mother is hauntingly beaituful and the smaller parts are filled with excellenance.
If you're looking for a Hoffman that is compleatly succesful in all aspects, this is it. 5/5"