Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Jules Massenet, Antonio Pappano, Roberto Alagna|
Massenet - Werther / Alagna · Gheorghiu · Hampson · Petibon · Courtis · Fouchécourt · Frémeau · LSO · Pappano
The modern discography of Massenet's Werther has long been dominated by the (currently out of print) Philips recording starring José Carreras and Frederica von Stade as well as the earlier EMI version with Alfredo Kraus an... more »
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The modern discography of Massenet's Werther has long been dominated by the (currently out of print) Philips recording starring José Carreras and Frederica von Stade as well as the earlier EMI version with Alfredo Kraus and Tatiana Troyanos. But this EMI newcomer is within shouting distance of greatness, mainly due to conductor Antonio Pappano. Although any Werther succeeds or fails on the strength of its singers, the conductor is a crucial catalyst (on the Philips set, it's Colin Davis, while on EMI it's Michel Plasson) for maintaining the poetic intensity in a drama that can too easily seem like a naive case study in stalking. The Byronic title character essentially practices emotional blackmail on the married woman he loves by never hiding his suicidal tendencies, though one never thinks such mundane thoughts with tenor Roberto Alagna. Although his voice lacks the tenor bloom one might want, he's so at home with the role and the French language that he delivers a characterization full of imagination and immediacy, sometimes bordering on vocal genius. Soprano Angela Gheoghiu's vocal center is too high for this mezzo role, but she makes a vivid impression through the sheer force of her personality. Thomas Hampson gives vocal glamour but surprising dramatic restraint to the role of her husband, Albert. Although the sound quality is somewhat studio bound, Pappano and the London Symphony Orchestra play as if it's a live performance. --David Patrick Stearns
Best Werther recording since the 1930s
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 03/16/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I will admit that I am "imprinted" on the Georges Thill/Ninon Vallin recording from the 1930s and no recording since then has even come close. But this recording does. Alagna (who is a native French speaker, in spite of the Italian name) has the diction and, more important, the style to sing poor Werther perfectly. Gheorghiu sings beautifully as well, and there is no problem with the tessitura, in spite of Charlotte generally being more comfortable for mezzos. Pappano is an up-and-coming conductor who does himself proud with this recording. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this one."
Alagna and Gheorghiu at their best
Christopher C. Wilson | Virginia, USA | 10/28/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I own most of the recordings by these two talented singers, and while I admire their many fine interpretations, on no recording do Alagna and Gheorghiu sound so thoroughly involved, so entrenched in the drama, as on this recording of "Werther." I was very moved in the last two acts, in which both singers are completely believable in the characters they portray. Vocally, they are both in excellent form, and, as some critics have noted, Alagna seems especially at home in the French repertoire.In recent years, some have dismissed the Alagnas as lightweight. Among some opera aficionados, it seems that if a singer is popular, young, and beautiful (as both these artists are), then their artistry is somehow suspect. Don't buy into these haughty attitudes and let yourself be robbed of the pleasures of enjoying two of the most talented and charismatic artists singing today. This is a fine recording -- and it certainly whets the appetite for their "Manon", which is on the way."
A star among modern Werthers, but there are others
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 05/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The reviewers below have praised this EMI Werther so thoroughly that there's little to add. Gheorghiu is the only soprano besides Victoria de los Angeles (1868, also on EMI) to record this classic mezzo role, and at times one hears the strain as she reaches for the bottom notes. She lacks de los angeles's many emotional shadings, giving us instead a fairly consistent, verismo-tinged passion, but her vocalism as such is thrilling.
Roberto alagna, a native French speaker despite his name, is the only prominent Werther who can claim that distinciton. I've always felt he was much better suited to French opera than the heavier Verdi-Puccini roles that he now sings, and which (shadoes of Carreras) have led to a coarsening of his voice, along with a pronounced wobble and intonation problems. but he is a star, no doubt, and here he brings charisma and style to Wether. He takes care to find many musical shadings throughout, and since the date for this recording is 1998-99, he is nearly in best voice.
Everyone has praised Pappano (are they following the lead of The Gramophone reviewer, who thought he was the best thing here?), but Colin Davis, Georges Pretre, and Kent Nagano had done as well. Pappano;s distinciton is that he is a bit slower, more dleiberate, and self-consciously refined. I'm not sure that's always a great advantage in Massanet, whose music is given to sighs and longueurs--it can use help form an energetic conductor. EMI's recording form London is a bit distant but otherwise quite good.
IN all, this is a gripping peformance that deserves all the praise it has gotten, but it doesn't erase memories of other fine Werthers, an opera that has been amazingly successful on records. The Davis features a remarkable Charlotte in Frederica von stade and a passionate, verismo Carreras in top form (Philips), the Nagano has gorgeous if not quite idiomatic singing from von Otter and Hadley in a more low-key, melliflous style (Erato), and of course there's the classic Pretre version with de los Angeles and Gedda. This only skims the surface, for there is an oustanding live 1977 performance with Domingo and Fassbaender under Lopez-Corbos from Munich (Orfeo). Indeed, when the Amazon reviewer claims that the Plasson set with Troyanos and Kraus on EMI "dominated" the stereo era, he is far from accurate."