Virginia Opera Fan | Falls Church, VA USA | 04/26/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Ariadne is one of my favorite operas. My collection includes this recording, Della Casa/Bohm, Janowitz/Kempe, Norman/Masur, Margaret Price/Nagano, Rysanek/Leinsdorf, Schwarzkopf/von Karajan, Tomowa/Sintow/Levine and Voigt/Sinopli. I've done a good deal of comparative listening and for me, this recording came several years too late for Miss Price. The upper register retains much of its purity but the lower voice has separated and is husky and hollow in tone. Her musicianship still carries the day, but what a difference it would have made had this been recorded in the mid 1960s rather than the mid 1970s. The 1992 date referred to in an earlier posting is the CD re-issue date. The recording made its first appearance on late 1970s Lps.
Contrary to an earlier posting, Solti was a conductor with a substantial recorded Strauss legacy: Arabella, Ariadne, Elektra, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Der Rosenkavalier, and Salome. His conducting here is thoroughly professional, but a little too hardbitten to capture the irony and comedy of the score.
Gruberova's Zerbinetta is one of the better performances on disc. Here she controls the tendency to slide up to pitch that is so evident in the Masur reading. Kollo does about as well as the competition in a part that is very difficult to bring off.
Troyanos is an outstanding Composer, second only to the superb Seefried (not Jurinac as noted in another posting) of the old von Karajan EMI version.
Overall none of the competition beats the old Schwarzkopf/von Karajan with Dame Elisabeth's Ariadne, Seefried's Composer and the sweet toned Rita Streich as Zerbinetta despite its modest monophonic sound.
My choice for a stereo Ariadne is no longer available. Leinsdorf's version, an RCA/Decca co-production, features the exiciting Ariadne of Leonie Rysanek, the beautifully done composer of Sena Jurinac, the youthful Roberta Peters as Zerbinetta, and Jan Peerce in one of his better recordings as Bacchus. The Vienna Philharmonic plays beautifully for Leinsdorf and it's all captured by the Decca engineers in sound that hardly shows its age after nearly forty years. The LP issue was in RCA's prestige Soria Series. It was last available on CD a few years back in the Decca Grand Opera series.
Otherwise, if you must have stereo, the EMI Kempe is a good choice for Janowitz's beautifully vocalized Ariadne, a well balanced cast, and Kempe's outstanding conducting."
TRUE STRAUSS LOVERS' DREAM RECORDING
Steve Kur | New York, New York | 10/04/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For someone who studied the operas of Richard Strauss for 4 years, this may be my favorite recorded version of this opera. Leontyne Price may not have a truly shining voice, but her Ariadne is quite beautiful and powerful. Gruberova is a great Zerbinetta, and I think would have surely pleased Herr Strauss. The late, great Tatiana Troyanos may have been one of the greatest Komponists of the 20th Century, and she really comes through brilliantly on this recording. And the Bacchus, Rene Kollo, while not a great heldentenor like Ben Heppner, gives the role his best, considering what a punishing role it truly is. The supporting cast, including Walter Berry as the Music Master (he was also a famous Barak), does a great job.
The orchestra, under the late Sir Georg Solti, a great Wagner and Strauss conductor, plays lovingly and powerfully. I believe this was recorded in 1992, but the sound is truly incredible. Any time I've seen this at The Met, I still can't believe what a brilliant orchestrator Strauss was. At times, the score seems almost Mozartean in its clarity; at other times, as in Bacchus' entrance and the final apotheosis, the small orchestra sounds like double the number of players.
All in all, since I like to have at least two of each opera recording, this one is definitely one of those.
Only slightly faulty Solti
Angus W. Grant | Melbourne, Australia | 07/17/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If only Solti had made this recording six years earlier. Leontyne Price will drive you nuts on this recording. She swoops between notes, hoots with an ugly vibrato-less tone and swallows vows. Then she turns around and sings a phrase with absolute beauty of tone which is a marvel of breath control and power. Her "Ein schoenes war" is gorgeous yet the great aria is ordinary and almost vulgar in places. Listen to the last track on disc 2 "Gibt Es Kein HinÜBer?" and you will here horrid and exquisite singing back to back. It would be more bearable if she was consistently poor rather than offering you glimpses of her wonderous best (and when she is good she is very, VERY good").
So why four stars then? Well everyone else is in top form. Troyanos is a wonder as the composer, truly thrilling. Her top register is terribly exciting and she is unstinting with her tone and emotion. Her great aria at the end of the prologue is ranks alongside any recording as one of the best adn I have never heard any as exciting. She alone is worth the purchase.
Gruberova is excellent as always and Kollo is not even close to troubled by the scary tessitura of the role of Bacchus. The recorded sound is excellent: detailed AND warm, and if you think the solo piano sounds cut above your average recording...it is; Played by Geoffrey Parsons. Solti conducts a driven performance, but not without it's moments of delicacy. If it missing something it is perhaps a sense of warmth and wonder. I know it sounds wanky, but the big aria and the love scene with the composer and Zerbinetta are just missing that little bit of magic that are there in other recordings in this opera which does very well on disc.
So very close, but not quite. But you should still buy it if you are interested in any of these singers."
One of Price's best recordings
Stephen Shotwell | Belmont CA | 09/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For years I have loved this recording. Leontyne Price performed this role at the San Francisco Opera in the late 70's and for me it is one of her signature roles -- right up there with the Verdi Leonoras and Aida.
I think I can understand how a first hearing might not totally win over one accustomed to one of the older recordings, which I do not doubt are quite good. (I love the old Decca Arabella with Lisa Della Casa.) I would like to suggest that in much the same way that some Callas performances "improve" with repeated hearings, Price's unique voice quality and expressive artistry merit the same attention. I love her plush, sumptous sound, and what she does with those arias!
As for Gruberova, arguably the greatest coloratura soprano of the last half century, she is the quintessence of Zerbinetta. Who could imagine better? And Troyanos is always wonderful."