Oct 19

La Fille du Regiment, by Donizetti, starring Natalie Dessay ???
Donizetti was an extremely productive early 19th century Italian opera composer, though most of his works go unperformed at this time. His greatest works include this opera, as well as Lucia de Lammermoor, L’elixir d’Amore, Anna Bolena, and a few others. This is probably the poorest conceived of his better known operas, and best known with Joan Sutherland as the star daughter of the regiment. In this opera, Natalie Dessay is the star. Her vocal qualities do not compete with the excellence of Dame Joan, though her acting and overall operatic skills make her one of the better daughters to ever have filled this role. Thus, it was a delight and joy to watch. The staging was a cross between traditional and minimalist, and served as much as a distraction as a help to the overall flow of the opera. This is not one of my favorite operas. The music is not memorable, and the plot contrived. A baby girl (Marie) is picked up and raised by a French army regiment, but recovered by a rich Tyrolean couple who think that she is their long-lost daughter, and arrange a marriage for her though she is love with a Tyrolean Toni who she met in the regiment and who joined the French regiment in order to marry her. Eventually Tonio and Marie resolve the issues that hold them apart. Yawn! Ho-hum.

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Oct 19

Ormandy Collection ???
This is the last of the budget series that I’ll be reviewing, with the conducting of Eugene Ormandy. Eugene Ormandy was born in Hungary as Jeno Blau, being a prodigy that received a masters degree in music at age 14 before coming to the US. After a short stay as director of the Minnesota symphony, he moved and stayed for 40 years at the Philadelphia Philharmonic. Though his major mentor was Toscanini, his style and form are much different from this conductor. Ormandy excelled at modern works, and his renditions of Shönberg works were notable. Many of his works in this set were straight forward, though the recordings left something to be desired. His performance of Mahler’s second symphony was quite poor and left something to be desired. At least Ormandy never felt the urge to speed through a piece like Toscanini. It is without a doubt that Ormandy is one of the great US conductors of the 20th century, though this set would tend to betray Ormandy at his best. My advice would be to seek out Ormandy recordings, but not this set of recordings. There are better out there.

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