Fluid Semiramide at the 2016 Proms

Again catching up with my links of interest. I didn’t intend to write about this (because it’s so long and I only had 2 1/2hrs set out for it), all I wanted was to casually listen to it whilst sewing a curtain for the kitchen (as you do).

But I was soon very impressed with how Mark Elder handled the score. He kept it light and clear and flowing though the tempi weren’t particularly speedy. His cast was very well chosen for Rossini, with – aside from the main ladies who were known quantities to me and of which Barcellona is a current staple in Rossini contralto roles – an excellent Assur in Mirko Palazzi and a pretty neat Idreno in Barry Banks.

I don’t reccommend the interval chat (more of an intro to Rossini’s Semiramide pre-recorded chat), because the two talkers say little of any importance. On top of that, one of them has the horrible old skool habit of calling everything enormous (the scale of the opera, the length of the acts, the difficulty of the title role etc.) and the other’s speech is riddled with irksome parasites such as “sort of” and “if you like”. I sort of didn’t like it.

I don’t yet know if they finished as well as they started but it seems a very good choice for anyone who wants a contemporary take on Semiramide. Opera Rara with Elder/Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and this very cast (= the same team) have actually just finished recording it UNCUT so you’ll get to hear it in all its 4hrs+ glory as soon as they sort it out.

Edit 16/09/16: finally finished it! Very good stuff. I’m now curious how the recording will be, comparatively.


About dehggial

Mozart/Baroque loving red dragon

Posted on September 11, 2016, in basses, italian opera, mezzos & contraltos, on the radio, rossini, sopranos and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. i know you purposely dont list who Semiramide is so that i have to click on the link 😉

    • it’s not who you’d hope for 😉 but she’s good nonetheless. She’s nowhere near as good an actress, though. The voice is quite lovely, though better in the house (then again, you also don’t get the effect of the 3 timpani in the broadcast as you would in the house and Rossini is not Mozart so who knows?).

      • it’s ok, i got who i wanted originally already on tape, being circled and all 😉
        i really like SEmiramide though! and already sat through 3 complete ones: ACA, Tankova+Podles, and of course that one w/ A.Hallenberg.. this will be my music for tomorrow (now near bed time.. so best to use that for wake up call) . I also like Barcellona.. and now quite looking forward to her take on this. It’s nice to see her at the Proms!

        • yes, it’s a very good score. That’s why when that chap kept on going enormous this, enormous that I was thinking by Rossini standards! He sounded like he was talking about Wagner. But you can tell it’s quite complex and still retains the Rossini-ness 🙂

          • i guess you were saturated with that certain soprano already ;-), but i really like that conductor and how he handeled the orchestra (the one in Belgium): he really thinned out the orchestra so it sounds very nicely supportive of the singers rather than “blasting”. I think i read somewhere he was also a super expert on Rossini and at the time conducting that was in his 80s or 90s or something!
            But yes, i agree, a well-thought conductor brings out more in the music as well.. looking forward to Proms!

            • Zedda! Yes, he’s been around forever and indeed is an expert to the extent – I think – that he was one of the first (if not the first) to re-introduce somee Rossini stuff to the repertoire (even Tancredi).

          • ps- now you got me humming the overture in head! that alone is a piece in itself!

            • a great one indeed. It’s very lightly done here, I actually thought it could’ve been heavier BUT there are some nice details coming through this way.

              • i got the exact same feeing on Zedda’s take too! and then on 2nd, then 3rd, then 4th.. listen, i finally realized why he chose to do it that way..
                in any case, i give in, now tunning in to Semiramide.. (those few phrases at the beginning of the overture is like a trap..)

                • unless you’re very sleepy you might end up glued to it 😉

                  • no no, i can handel well the next 3 hours!

                  • wow, it’s indeed booming
                    oh, here comes Arsace..

                  • back to this.. i did sit through all 4 hrs of it.. (those people during intermission, esp. the lady with the “uhm… uhm… uhm..” got on my nerve 😀 )
                    Indeed it’s reallly great music! more developments than the ti ta ra tum tunes.. but i thought the orchestra was very loud! (i think it’s just the positioning of the mics). And come to think of it, the both versions I really like were indeed led by Zedda (Tankova + Podles , then MP + Hallenberg).. The other thing i needed to get used to was Barcellona’s (and the some extent Semiramide’s) vibrato. Barcellona did let it rip at some point though, raized my hair! 🙂 . when she’s not ripping her voice is actually really warm like A.Hallenberg’s! i almost thought it was the latter singing at time.. but it’s true i think DB’s carries much farther in that gigantic hall (and perhaps that’s why she also has a stronger vibrato?). But now guess what i’m tuning in for morning music at work 😉 (yes, that other semiramide.. but mainly b/c i also want to listen to the orchestra’s take again , i swear, it’s not b/c of the soprano 😉 <– it’s true actually, partially!)
                    (ps- independently, i had another dream of visiting! surely i can’t seem to wait until our musical outings! it’s far too few of anything here for me!)

                    • I guess in belcanto vibrato is more common, even expected. I’m now stuck on Stutzmann’s Ich habe genug for a while and this one’ll have to wait a bit 😉

                    • I’ve returned too. I forgot how much like in Tancredi the male choir sounds – especially in that bit where Arsace learns what has happened. Rossini should’ve written more of these 😀 likewise I might go check out another Tancredi.

                      well you’ll be back in Europe soon enough 😀 I can’t wait for the posts on your weeklong Alcina!

                    • he also used all-male chorus in Cenerentola but as far as dynamics, jeah, has to be Tancredi! goose-bump inducing when they ascend during Amenaide (Tankova) scene (i so sad that whole set was taking down on tube.. that channel also had my fav ACA’s Agrippina clip which i forgot to download and now gone, wooooah) . But if i remember correctly, from green dress and all, that Semiramide was more male+female chorus, and is it really the first time he also used all female in parallel with Semiramide?
                      Since i got into it via the green dress 😉 , i thought the Proms version was very fast, you don’t get to hear the dynamics of the chorus there..
                      and now you got me waking up having the tune of Semiramide + tenor + bass + chorus in head (the first scene when Semiramide arrived)

                    • aha, that is also how Tancredi starts – tenor + bass + male chorus. The green dress worked well, you’re way more knowledgeable about Semiramide than me 😀

                      I guess they had to go quick at the Proms, they started very late (7pm) for a 4hr opera. Apparently people started to leave at 10pm.

                    • yeah but dont gorget the green dressed soprano also joins in the fun in Semiramide 😉
                      7pm is tough! i did get the impression it was really fast at certain junctions, but particularly when the female chorus starts out b4 Semiramide entrance aria.
                      note we have to delay viewing mitridate for 1full week, give you time to sort out your schedule 😉

                    • another mitridate??? 😮

                    • what do you mean “another”??

                    • but I thought you guys have talked the one to death already…? What more can be said?!

                    • tsk tsk tsk, havent you seen the new screen cap(s)? 😉

                    • clearly I have not. But I think there won’t be much input I can give that you guys have not extensively covered.

                    • not sure if we’d have much time to look at/for inputs 😉

                    • hahaha! hot summer, eh.

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