The only album I need? Not really.
Peter Hilliard | Roslyn, PA United States | 06/14/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"There's something a little sad about this particular marketing scheme: The ONLY operetta album you'll ever need. it implies that everything operetta offers could be contained on one disc. It cheapens the form to think it could be distilled into 74 minutes, and it invites ridicule, because nobody could pick the tracks that would please everybody. Having said that, this compilation is pretty poor even for an exercise in futility.First there is the matter of the composers represented. Offenbach, Strauss, Lehar, Flotow. So far, we're good. The inclusion of Robert Stolz and Carl Zeller would be alright, except that there is nothing by Gilbert and Sullivan, Victor Herbert, Jerome Kern, and a couple other giants of operetta. There is also a further insult; the bizarre inclusion of two versions of 'Dein ist mein ganzes herz', one in German, and one in English. This is, to be sure, a great operetta moment, but is operetta really so bereft of great moments as to warrant the inclusion of two versions of the same tune? Or did the compilers not realize they were one and the same? Neither answer inspires confidence. It even appears that one of the tracks, "Wien wird bei Nacht erst schoen" is not actually from an operetta, which is truly inexcusable in light of the glaring omissions of entire categories of operetta. And couldn't we get a recording with Stolz conducting his own pieces? Presumably BMG had access to such recordings, seeing as he conducts three of the other tracks on the album. And surely there are more numbers to mine from Fledermaus that rank higher than some of these maudlin numbers from Viennese oddities. The performances are admirable, particularly Domingo's 'M'appari', which is as good as one might expect from him, and 'Das Leben Ruft', a glittering number by Lucia Popp in fine form. But the tracks by Moffo and Caballe are not terribly good; the two were clearly past their primes. Rudolf Schock sounds much better in the redundant 'Dein ist mein ganzes herz' than he does in 'Komm in die Gondel', which is pretty dismal until the very end, where he pulls out a nice closing note in head voice. Wunderlich is predictably good at this material, as is von Stade. Jerry Hadley is exceptional at the 'Wolgenlied', but sounds pretty ordinary in 'Schoen ist die welt'I think there are some people for whom this is exactly the sort of music that represents the best of operetta. Perhaps for them the album should be titled: 'Great moments from the world of operetta', or maybe: 'The best of French and German operetta'. If that were what we were shooting for, an album of syrupy Mario Lanza and Fritz Wunderlich would actually exceed some expectations. But this album sets an impossible goal for itself, and does not meet even the bare minimum expected of an indispensable opera album. Try something else."