Bohm’s Clemenza: conducting yay, singers sort of…
This is the first part of a two-part series on Karl Bohm’s take on Mozart’s Clemenza. This one concerns a rather amusing review on the singers’ job on this recording from the standpoint of somebody who is obviously more interested in the orchestral proceedings.
I have a mini project of listening to every recording I can get my hands on, be it bliss or utter shite, such is my fascination and familiarity with this work. It’s like a twin, nothing is taboo and everything is a pleasure or at least a good laugh together.
Depending on where you come from (by which I don’t necessary mean Milton Keynes or Regis Bognor), where opera is concerned you’re more likely to listen for either the singers’ antics or for whatever the conductor conjures up by vigorously or breezily flailing his upper limbs. BO’H, whose reviews I find amusing and sensible, praises the Bohm Clemenza to the gods, but check out his comments on the singers:
Tito: “Del più sublime soglio” is the only instance where I thought to myself: geez, Uncle Karl is slow – and even then, it’s beautifully sustained by Schreier. Speaking of which, I am no great fan of the German tenor. This is certainly one of his strongest performances.
Vitellia: I like having a soprano in the role of Vitellia. Even if she falls short of Dame Janet Baker’s stupendous characterisation, Julia Varady sings ever so lustrously. Her “Non più di fiori” is a joy.
Sesto: Berganza adds to the allure of the set.
Annio: Schmidl is serviceable as Annio and no more.
Servillia: The forty one year old Edith Mathis sings her guts out as Sevilia. How lambent she is in “S’altro che lagrime”.
Publio: Theo Adam warrants deification. Who else can sing two notes at the same time? His wobble is so accentuated, one could almost park a cement-mixer therein. Will we ever understand why he features in so many of Bohm’s recordings? Man, he must have had some dirt on Uncle Karl, like some photos from the All Gods are Dead Pool-Party. This is arguably Big Theo’s worst recording – and that is saying something. There is more but I’m feeling merciful, since I’ve never heard of TA before and feel no particular schadenfreude.