Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
A Pelleas et Melisande of Note
G P Padillo | Portland, ME United States | 03/06/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What a beautiful and amazing performance.
First off, let me start by saying that I was completely shocked by the sound quality of this recording. It was live. It was Rome. It was 1954. I wasn't expecting much and figured there would be at least the requisite tape hiss, radio static, etc. It sounded better than most studio recordings of that period with zero hiss or surface noise of any type.
This had to have been one of the most perfect performances of this opera von Karajan ever conducted. Herbie was only 46 years old but his mastery of the score, the attention to detail sans fussiness and the full blooded approach to much of this music was startling. The Sinfonica della RAI di Roma responded to every detail and the score positively shimmers in their
The first voice we hear is the Golaud of Michel Roux (Simionato/Gedda Carmen - Interestingly, bright voiced soprano Graziella Sciutti, the Frasquista from that recording is the Yniold in this Pelleas). In my opinion Roux is one of the greatest artists in this role, a role he apparently sang a lot of, including a number of performances with one of the greatest Pelleas's, Jacques Jansen (each would also sing the opera with
Schwarzkopf's heroine on separate occasions and, as together as a trio at La Scala under de Sabata). Roux is extraordinarily youthful sounding, a rich, but limber baritone, and one of the most sympathetic Golauds in my experience. A stunning, nuanced performance.
I would have loved to witnessed Schwarzkopf's Melisande in the house. Hers is from a different school than I prefer my Melisandes to be, but without a doubt she may well be the most intense, excitable interpreters of the role as one is likely to hear. The performance grew on me and her non-stop heartfelt (and for Debussy, a bit-over-the-top) near verismo style singing
in Act IV won me over completely. That left me even more startled at the ability she had to mellow the voice out - quite beautifully - for Act V (here, mislabeled as part of Act IV).
Swiss tenor, Ernst Haefliger catches all the right moodiness of Pelleas and I enjoyed hearing such a light voice in the role. The great Act IV duet with Schwarzkopf's Melisande - the two of them, beign urged on by von Karajan, with full blooded, over-the-top passionate singing and practically burn the down the house. Seriously. Haefliger's easy top make his singing of ""Et maintenant jhe 'lai trouvee . . . je ta'i trouvee . . . je ne crois pas qu'il y ait sur la terre un femme plus belle!" (one of my favorite moments in all of opera) exquisite, bright and in his breathless manner - almost heart stopping! Similarly, at his death, his uttering of "Oh! Oh! Toutes les etoiles tombent! . . . Encore! Encore!" leads into those tragic
final seconds with von Karajan propelling everything faster and more violently and . . . wow, BAM, Melisande's running away crying "Je n'ai pas de courage...Ahhhh!" and the stunned audience bursts into applause.
This is an exquisite performance of Debussy's masterpiece with performances to savor and absolutely essential for anyone who loves Pelleas - and that means both of you!