Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Jules Massenet, Valery Gergiev, Plácido Domingo|
Massenet - Hérodiade / Domingo, Fleming, Zajick, Pons, Gergiev
Recorded live at the San Francisco Opera, this Hérodiade assumes that this less-than-great opera--in which the legendary Salome has little of the fascinating, sexual neurosis in the better-known Richard Strauss dramat... more »
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Recorded live at the San Francisco Opera, this Hérodiade assumes that this less-than-great opera--in which the legendary Salome has little of the fascinating, sexual neurosis in the better-known Richard Strauss dramatization--needs all the muscle the performers can give it, and the results aren't subtle. The score is cut (which may not be a bad thing), and though cast members are reasonably well-schooled in the French text, this is hardly a tidy performance, the larger point being the dramatic heat they bring to the piece. And if Renée Fleming, Placido Domingo, and Dolora Zajick firing on all cylinders wasn't enough, they're led by powerhouse conductor Valery Gergiev in one of his few, non-Russian opera recordings. Sound quality is good for live. It's two discs rather than three (such as Michel Plasson's version on EMI with Studer, Heppner, and Hampson). With a gun pointed to my head, this would be my first choice. David Patrick Stearns
Herodiade is a must have!
Isabella Channel | 03/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just can't understand why Herodiade is not as popular as Werther or Manon, the music is more than memorable. As so often happens, after decades of neglect now we have 2 recordings, and both very good. This live from San Francisco recording has 2 big pluses: Renee Fleming and Placido Domingo. Dolora Zajic makes a huge sound and is exciting, but Juan Pons is nowhere near Thomas Hampson on the EMI set. The EMI advantages are some extra music, (notably ballets and the second verse of the tenor aria), and superior sound...and Thomas Hampson and Jose van Dam. I really don't care for Cheryl Studer's brand-free soprano singing. Ben Heppner is sound but he is no Domingo. Both conductors are good, but Michel Plasson is more at home than Gergiev. Since these are the only 2 recordings of Herodiade, get them both."
(Almost) divine voluptuousness
Jay Dickson | Portland, OR | 11/17/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Massenet's Herodiade has been enjoying a comeback in recent years. The opera is a bit stagey, even for Massenet, in that its his first work which truly exploits his grand obsession with unrequited desire, and how it can be expressed either as secular passion or sublimated as voluptuous eroticism; in this work (unlike in his later "Thaïs," where he finally figured out how to work things out more successfully in terms of dramatics) most of the great love arias are sung to someone who is entirely absent offstage, which makes for a kind of strange opera. But the music is spectacular--as beautiful as anything he ever wrote. His great aria for Salomé, "Il est bon, il est doux," has made a spectacular showcase for the talents of lyric sopranos such as Kiri Te Kanawa; although Renée Fleming was born to play the role of Salomé, and generally acquits herself very well, her rendition of "Il est bon" doesn't quite have the vocal control one would have hoped from her. (Nonetheless, she brings it off.) Placido Domingo and Dolora Zajick are predictably perfect as Jean le Baptiste and Herodiade, even though their characters don't have the best music in the opera; the character who besides Salomé does, Herod, is played adequately but not thrillingly by Juan Pons (he doesn't seem to bring much heat to the role). The recording is live from the San Francisco Opera, and does seem to suffer from this: some of the instrumental performances seem to waver a bit, and the sound of feet running is a big distraction during the Babylonian Dance and other scenes."
Very desirable French stravaganza
J. Luis Juarez Echenique | Mexico City | 12/28/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't understand why Herodiade was not recorded (complete) before. It's such a crowd pleaser! Great arias, great chorus, ballets. This live San Francisco recording is very exciting. Domingo, Fleming and Zajick are electrifying, only Juan Pons is so-so. The EMI recording has the ever suave Thomas Hampson, but Cheryl Studer is nowhere as good as Renee Fleming, and even if Ben Heppner is both noble and sonorous, Domingo has that unmistikable star-quality that makes you stand and listen."