"Truest of the true"
Robert Manari | San Francisco, CA United States | 05/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Viorica Ursuleac established her reputation as one of the greatest Strauss operatic sopranos. Born into a musical family, it was Queen Marie of Romania who facilitated her move towards an international career. Ursuleac later married the great Austrian conductor Clemens Krauss, thus beginning a legendary collaboration.
Krauss directed many of Ursuleac's performances, including the world premieres of no less than four of Richard Strauss' operas: Arabella (in 1933), Capriccio (Strauss' greatest opera where she sung the Countess at the premiere scheduled for October 28, 1942 in Munich at the National Theatre), Friedenstag (dedicated to her and Krauss), and Der Liebe der Danae (creating Danae at a 1944 Salzburg dress rehearsal - theater closings delayed the actual premiere until 1952).
Richard Strauss once described Ursuleac as the "truest of the true" in interpreting his great soprano roles. This 1935 Berlin recording of "Ariadne auf Naxos" (sans prologue) shows abundantly why he had such an enormous belief in her.
You haven't heard Ariadne until you've heard this!
Steven Keller | Fairview Heights, Illinois, USA | 05/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Recorded in 1935, without the prologue, this is a superlative performance of Ariadne auf Naxos, by a cast that knows what they are singing. I have five complete recordings of this opera and they all pale beside this performance. I heard music that I have never heard in Ariadne before, because Clemens Krauss approaches this opera as it should be approached -- as a chamber opera. Too many conductors treat Ariadne in a pseudo-Wagnerian manner and they completely obliterate the marvelous nuances that are in the score. Where Karajan and Kempe plow through the score, Krauss brings out all of the subtleties. As a consequence, Strauss' climaxes are breathtaking. The soloists are uniformly good, and like Krauss, know this music like the back of their hands. Ursuleac is radiant and doesn't have to sing like Brunnhilde, because of Krauss' approach to the score. The Commedia del arte troupe actually enjoys what they are singing, and I have never heard every note! Karl Hammes (a famous Don Giovanni) as Harlekin is simply the best interpreter of this role on record -- he not only sings every note assigned to his role, his diction is superb and he really has fun with the part. The sound is what you would expect from 1935, but the performance is such that any lover of Ariadne (and their are legion) cannot miss this recording! Five stars all round!