Samson et Dalila is a representative example of that exoticism which in the 19th century acted as one of the main movements of the French imagination. The only one of his thirteen operas that has remained in the repertoire, Saint-Saëns adheres to an authentic stage tradition that includes titles such as Meyerbeer's L'Africaine, Bizet's Les pêcheurs de perles, or Delibes' Lakmé. The well-known biblical plot is used to create a work that is somewhere between an oratorio and a grand-opera. From the former, the structural sense, the importance of the chorus and a certain staticism, evident in Act I. From the latter, the almost grandiloquent tone, the spectacular staging and the importance of the ballet, as well as an enveloping voluptuousness.
Along with the frequent choral interventions, the numbers of Samson, a tenor with heroic tonalities, and especially those of Delilah, one of the most important roles assigned to the mezzo-soprano voice in the history of the genre, such as the beautiful "Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix", from Act II, are worth mentioning. In the orientalism that dominates the brilliant setting, Saint-Saëns uses procedures derived from Arab music, often from North Africa, and which are also reflected in the last of his piano concertos, subtitled "Egyptian" in the Suite Algérienne or in Africa, for piano and orchestra.
From the Auditorio de Cuenca, the RTVE Choir, conducted by Javier Corcuera, and the wind soloists of the Orquesta Sinfónica RTVE: Carlos Benetó Grau (trumpet), Juanjo Serna Salvador (trumpet), Manolo Pérez Ortega (horn), Indalecio Bonet Manrique (trombone) and Sergio Finca Quirós (tuba).
Organised by the Fundación Patronato de la Semana de Música Religiosa de Cuenca, Consorcio de la ciudad de Cuenca, Ayuntamiento de Cuenca, la Diputación provincial, Junta de Comunidades Castilla la Mancha, Instituto de las Artes Escénicas y de la Música del Ministerio de Cultura, Fundación Globalcaja and the Bishopric of Cuenca.
When Georges Bizet premiered his opera Carmen, he could not have imagined that his beautiful and seductive cigarmaker would become a myth, the precursor of a feminine behaviour that broke all conventions. It is one of the most frequently performed titles at the Teatro Real and is a constant presence in the opera seasons of theatres all over the world.
Stage director Emilio Sagi uses the imaginative costumes of designer Jesús del Pozo to emphasise the sensuality, the features, the party and the tragic ending. His original conceptions depict the almost beehive-like atmosphere of the tobacco factory, the warmth of the Sevillian light, the cold of the camp in the mountains...
García Navarro, musical director of the Teatro Real at the time of this recording (8 April 1999), brings together under his baton the Chorus of the Community of Madrid, the children of the Escolanía Nuestra Señora del Recuerdo, the Madrid Symphonic Orchestra and a cast led by Agnes Baltsa, Neil Shicoff, Geer Grimsley and Andrea Dankova.
In an era marked by haste and the need to reach the quickest goals immediately, Alfredo Kraus knew how to install prudence and moderation among his objectives. Intelligence begins with the discovery of his vocal capacity, continues with the choice of the appropriate repertoire and ends with the controlled distribution of his possibilities. The coherence of her professional career is decisive. Out of almost 40 operatic roles, about twenty are enough to cement his legend, all sung in Italian or French and therefore belonging to these repertoires. Youthful personalities, passionate and prone to amorous sentiment, entities that facilitate the best weapons of his singing: elegance, flexibility, fluidity, spontaneity, transparency of sound, subtlety and ease of ascent to the high register, qualities that have remained untouched, with the logical changes brought about by age, throughout his long career.
Kraus impresses us for many reasons, but especially for the characteristic timbre quality, the fantasy of his phrasing, the display of his regulation, the naturalness of his legato and the perfection of his line.
On November 3, 1998, Elektra, the extraordinary opera by Richard Strauss, with a libretto by the poet and playwright Hugo von Hofmannsthal, took to the stage of the Teatro Real for the first time, starring the soprano Eva Marton, considered one of the best interpreters of this role in the history of opera.
Among the ruins of La Fenice devoured by fire, recalling the fire that razed the iconic theatre in 1996, the scenography conceived by Ezio Toffolutti for stage director Henning Brockhaus further accentuates the desperation and tragedy of characters devoured by themselves and their destiny.
Eva Marton is accompanied by mezzo-soprano Anne Gjevang and soprano Ana María Sánchez in the leading roles, under the musical direction of García Navarro, who achieves, in this performance, an acclaimed interpretation of the complex score.
Massenet compiled in an exemplary way the resources that help define the genre drame lyrique in the four-act Werther. The use of well-known storylines, in this case Goethe’s novel published in 1774, was the starting point of a repertoire that was not based as much on the creation of clearly-established characters between whom dramatic relationships develop but on verismo, craftily drawing upon prior images conjured by the story’s episodes or by illustrations, where musical values strictly predominated over theatrical values. The romantic despair of Goethe’s hero, with an impossible love leading to his suicide, is softened in the libretto by Blau, Milliet and Hartmann, confined to the everyday life and sentimental boundaries of the bourgeoisie.
Massenet recreates this setting admirably. The singing is perfectly adapted to the peculiar nature and accents of the French language, delivering its discourse with complete naturalness, the melody flowing softly without harmonic complexity, with careful and clear timbre providing restrained expression in line with the character’s feelings, which are also linked to a variety of motifs, on which the work progresses. Charlotte’s grand scene at the start of Act III stands out alongside the excellence and mastery of the protagonist’s arias, such as “Pourquoi me réveiller”.