Opera Gala Opera Gala Opera Gala


Opera Gala
Various Artists
Label
Decca
Catalogue No.
4841398
Barcode
00028948413980
Format
20-CD
About

From Adam to Zandonai, from 1954 to 1996, 20 CDs made up of no less than 28 Decca opera recordings, most of them recorded as highlights albums, many long unavailable, newly remastered and all featuring the greatest singers of their age.

In bygone years, before 24/7 streaming, recorded music was less readily available than it is now. Complete opera sets were an expensive luxury; yet opera, and singers, still captured the classical music public’s imagination like no other genre. The advent of LP allowed for up to an hour’s highlights from a stage-work, including the most popular arias and numbers, to be issued in a single, cost-effective product. Listeners who baulked at the cost of Solti’s Ring cycle could nevertheless acquire Birgit Nilsson singing the Immolation Scene on one side the climactic scene of Salome on the other. But with John Pritchard in charge she also recorded a sequence of scenes from Verdi’s Aida in 1963, and four years earlier the first-act scena from Tristan with Grace Hoffman as Brangäne and Knappertsbusch in Vienna.

Many of these ‘highlights only’ recordings have fallen from currency, but now we can all relive the pleasures of Regina Resnik’s Mistress Quickly and Luigi Alva’s Fenton (excerpts from Falstaff, 1963) and Marilyn Horne’s first recorded Carmen (with her husband Henry Lewis, 1970). A sequence of rare Baroque operas features the most famous husband-and-wife team of all, Richard Bonynge and Joan Sutherland, in vocally spectacular excerpts from operas by Bononcini, Graun and Handel; Monica Sinclair’s ‘Si spietata’ from Giulio Cesare is an astonishing piece of Baroque virtuosity.  Meanwhile single-act operas (notably Cimarosa’s Il Maestro di capella with Fernando Corena, 1960) Wolf-Ferrari’s Il segreto di Susanna, 1976, directed by Lamberto Gardelli) and single acts of Wagner (the first and third acts of Die Walküre in Vienna, 1957) enjoyed all the attention to engineering and dramatic effect for which Decca’s production team was famous.

Further highlights albums functioned as artist showcases: for the superb Greek-French mezzo Irma Kolassi in Berlioz and Massenet’s Werther; Horne again in rare Rossini; and Lisa della Casa reprising her most notable Strauss heroines. The booklet of this uniquely compiled new set includes a new essay by Andrew Dalton on the history of opera highlights on disc as well as many treasurable artist and session photos: Resnik and her luggage, Nilsson and her Valkyrie’s steed, Sutherland and her son in full cowboy rig.

TRACK LISTING / ARTISTS

CD 1
ADOLPHE ADAM (1803–1856)
Le Toréador
Don Belflor – Michel Trempont
Coraline – Sumi Jo
Tracolin – John Aler
Welsh National Opera Orchestra
RICHARD BONYNGE

CD 2
HECTOR BERLIOZ (1803–1869)
La Damnation de Faust, Op. 24 (excerpts)
Marguerite – Irma Kolassi
Faust – Raoul Jobin

JULES MASSENET (1842–1912)
Werther (excerpts)
Charlotte – Irma Kolassi
Werther – Raoul Jobin
London Symphony Orchestra
ANATOLE FISTOULARI

CD 3
GEORGES BIZET (1838–1875)
Carmen (excerpts)
Carmen – Marilyn Horne
Frasquita –  Maria Pellegrini
Mercédès – Gwyneth Griffiths
Don José –  Michele Molese
Le Dancaire – David Bowman
Le Remendado – Francis Egerton
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
HENRY LEWIS

Les Pêcheurs de perles (excerpts)
Leïla – Janine Micheau
Nadir – Libero de Luca
Zurga – Jean Borthayre
L’Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris
ALBERTO EREDE

CHARLES GOUNOD (1818–1893)
Mireille (excerpts)
Mireille – Janine Micheau
Vincent – Pierre Giannotti
Orchestre du Théâtre National de l’Opéra-Comique
ALBERTO EREDE

CD 4
ARRIGO BOITO (1842–1918)
Mefistofele (excerpts)
Mefistofele – Nicolai Ghiaurov
Faust – Franco Tagliavini
Orchestra e Coro del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma
Gianni Lazzari, chorus master
SILVIO VARVISO

CD 5
GIOVANNI BONONCINI (1670–1747)
Griselda (excerpts)
Griselda – Lauris Elms
Ernesto –  Joan Sutherland
Gualtiero –  Monica Sinclair
Almirena –  Margreta Elkins
Rambaldo –  Spiro Malas
Ambrosian Singers
John McCarthy, chorus master
London Philharmonic Orchestra
RICHARD BONYNGE

CD 6
CARL HEINRICH GRAUN (1704–1759)
Montezuma (excerpts)
Montezuma –  Lauris Elms
Eupaforice –  Joan Sutherland
Tezeuco – Joseph Ward
Pilpatoè – Rae Woodland
Erisenna – Elizabeth Harwood
Fernando Cortez – Monica Sinclair
Ambrosian Singers
John McCarthy, chorus master
London Philharmonic Orchestra
RICHARD BONYNGE

CD 7
GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL (1685–1759)
Giulio Cesare, HWV 17 (excerpts)
Cleopatra –  Joan Sutherland
Julius Caesar –  Margreta Elkins
Cornellia – Marilyn Horne
Sextus – Richard Conrad
Ptomlemy – Monica Sinclair
New Symphony Orchestra
RICHARD BONYNGE

CD 8
EMMERICH KÁLMÁN (1882–1953)
Gräfin Mariza (excerpts)
Gräfin Mariza – Marika Németh
Lisa –  Monika Dahlberg
Manja – Sonja Draksler
Graf Tassilo – Peter Minich
Baron Kolomán Zsupán – Herbert Prikopa
Wiener Volksopernchor
Wiener Grosstadtkinderchor
Élémer Horváth Gypsy Band
Orchester der Wiener Volksoper
ANTON PAULIK

CD 9
FRANZ LEHÁR (1870–1948)
The Merry Widow (excerpts)
Hanna Glawari – Dame Joan Sutherland
Count Danilo Danilovitsch – Werner Krenn
Valencienne – Valerie Masterson
Zo-Zo – Regina Resnik
Camille – John Brecknock
Raoul de St.Brioche – Francis Egerton
Vicomte Cascada – John Fryatt
Njegus – Graeme Ewer
Ambrosian Singers
John McCarthy, chorus master
National Philharmonic Orchestra
RICHARD BONYNGE

CD 10
GIOACHINO ROSSINI (1792–1868)
Le Siège de Corinthe (excerpts)
La Donna del lago (excerpts)
Marilyn Horne, mezzo-soprano
Ambrosian Singers
John McCarthy, chorus master
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
HENRY LEWIS

CD 11
RICHARD STRAUSS (1864–1949)
Arabella
Er ist der Richtige nicht für mich!
Das war sehr gut, Mandryka (Final scene)
Arabella – Lisa della Casa
Zdenka – Hilde Gueden
Mandryka – Alfred Poell
Wiener Philharmoniker
RUDOLF MORALT

Der Richtige – so hab ich still zu mir gesagt
Arabella – Lisa della Casa
Mandryka – Paul Schöffler

Capriccio: Closing scene
Gräfin – Lisa della Casa
Haushofmeister- Franz Bierbach

Ariadne auf Naxos
Es gibt ein Reich
Ariadne – Lisa della Casa
Wiener Philharmoniker
HEINRICH HOLLREISER

Großmächtige Prinzessin

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756–1791)
Mia speranza adorate … Ah, non sai qual pena, KV 416
No, che non sei capace, KV 419
Ilse Hollweg, soprano
Erna Gal, piano (Strauss)
London Symphony Orchestra
JOSEF KRIPS

CD 12
RICHARD STRAUSS (1864–1949)
Der Rosenkavalier (excerpts)
Die Feldmarschallin – Régine Crespin
Octavian – Elisabeth Söderström
Herr von Faninal – Heinz Holecek
Sophie – Hilde Gueden
Chor der Wiener Staatsoper
Wiener Philharmoniker
SILVIO VARVISO

CD 13
GIUSEPPE VERDI (1813–1901)
Aida (excerpts)
Aida – Birgit Nilsson
Amneris – Grace Hoffman
Radamès –  Luigi Ottolini
Amonasro –  Louis Quilico
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
JOHN PRITCHARD

CD 14
GIUSEPPE VERDI (1813–1901)
Falstaff (excerpts)
Falstaff – Fernando Corena
Ford – Renato Capecchi
Alice – Ilva Ligabue
Nanetta – Lydia Marimpietri
Meg Page – Fernanda Cadoni
Mistress Quickly – Regina Resnik
Fenton – Luigi Alva
Bardolfo – Robert Bowman
Pistola – Michael Langdon
New Symphony Orchestra of London
SIR EDWARD DOWNES

DOMENICO CIMAROSA (1749–1801)
Il Maestro di Cappella
Il Maestro – Fernando Corena
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
ARGEO QUADRI

CD 15
RICHARD WAGNER (1813–1883)
Die Walküre (Act I)
Siegmund – Set Svanholm
Sieglinde – Kirsten Flagstad
Hunding – Arnold van Mill
Wiener Philharmoniker
HANS KNAPPERTSBUSCH

CD 16
RICHARD WAGNER (1813–1883)
Die Walküre (Act III)
Brünnhilde – Kirsten Flagstad
Wotan – Otto Edelmann
Sieglinde – Marianne Schech
Gerhilde – Oda Balsborg
Ortlinde –  Ilona Steingruber
Waltraute – Grace Hoffman
Schwertleite – Margaret Bence
Helmwige – Claire Watson
Grimwerde – Frieda Roesler
Roßweiße – Hetty Plümacher
Siegmund – Set Svanholm
Wiener Philharmoniker
SIR GEORG SOLTI

CD 17
RICHARD WAGNER (1813–1883)
Die Walküre
Siegmund! Sieh auf mich (Todesverkündigung)
Brünnhilde –  Kirsten Flagstad
Siegmund – Set Svanholm
Wiener Philharmoniker
SIR GEORG SOLTI

Götterdämmerung
Prologue: Dawn and Siegfried’s Rhine Journey
Siegfried’s Funeral March
Tristan und Isolde (excerpts)
Isolde – Birgit Nilsson
Brangäne – Grace Hoffman
Wiener Philharmoniker
HANS KNAPPERTSBUSCH

CD 18
RICHARD STRAUSS (1864–1949)
Salome (excerpts)
Salome – Birgit Nilsson
Herod – Gerhard Stolze
Herodias – Grace Hoffman

RICHARD WAGNER (1813–1883)
Götterdämmerung (excerpts)
Brünnhilde – Birgit Nilsson
Hagen – Gottlob Frick
Wiener Philharmoniker
SIR GEORG SOLTI

CD 19
ERMANNO WOLF-FERRARI (1876–1948)
Il Segreto di Susanna
Conte Gil – Bernd Weikl
Contessa Susanna – Maria Chiara
Sante – Omar Godknow
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
LAMBERTO GARDELLI

CD 20
RICCARDO ZANDONAI (1883–1944)
Francesca da Rimini (excerpts)
Francesca – Magda Olivero
Paolo – Mario Del Monaco
Giovanni – Virgilio Carbonari
Il torrigiano – Virgilio Carbonari
Biancofiore – Annamaria Gasparini
Il balestriere – Athos Cesarini
L’Orchestre National de l’Opéra de Monte-Carlo
NICOLA RESCIGNO

Recording information

CD 1
Recording Producer: Christopher Pope
Assistant Producer: Ian Watson
Balance Engineer: James Lock
Location Engineer: Graham Meek
Recording Editors: Ian Watson, Jenni Whiteside
Recording Location: Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, Wales, UK, 18–23 June 1996
Dialogue Editor: Marie-Claire
Original Decca Release: 455 664-2: February 1998

CD 2
Recording Producer: Peter Andry
Balance Engineer: Kenneth Wilkinson
Recording Location:
Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 4–7 October 1954
Original Decca LP Release: LXT 5034: March 1955

CD 3
Tracks 1-7
Recording Producer: Tony d’Amato
Balance Engineer: Arthur Lilley
Recording Location: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 5 June 1970
Original Decca Release: PFS 4204: January 1971

Tracks 8-15
Recording Producer: John Culshaw
Recording Location: La Maison de la Mutualité, Paris, France, 12–17 October 1953
Original Decca Release: LXT 2789: July 1954

CD 4
Recording Producer: Erik Smith
Balance Engineer: Kenneth Wilkinson
Recording Location: RCA Italiana Studio A, Rome, Italy, 17, 18, 20 & 21 September 1966
Original Decca Release: LXT 6305, SXL 6305: September 1967

CD 5
Recording Producer: David Harvey
Balance Engineer: Kenneth Wilkinson
Recording Location: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 21–23, 26, 29, 30 March & 1 April 1966
Original Decca Release: SET 352: July 1968

CD 6
Recording Producer: David Harvey
Balance Engineer: Kenneth Wilkinson
Recording Location: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 21–23, 26, 29, 30 March, 1 April & 2 September 1966
Original Decca Release: SET 351: November 1967

CD 7
Recording Producers: Christopher Raeburn, Ray Minshull
Balance Engineer: James Brown
Recording Location: West Hampstead Studio 3, London, UK, 3–6 July 1963
Original Decca Release: LXT 6116, SXL 6116: September 1964

CD 8
Recording Producers: Christopher Raeburn, John Culshaw
Balance Engineers: Gordon Parry, James Brown
Recording Location: Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria, 1–2 November 1958
Original Decca Release: ECS 2154: July 1974 (LM2406, LSC2406: November 1960 released on RCA)

CD 9
Recording Producers: Christopher Raeburn (1977), Andrew Cornall, (1978)
Balance Engineers: Kenneth Wilkinson, Colin Moorfoot, Martin Atkinson
Recording Location: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK, 20 Aug 1977 and Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 26–28 April 1978
Original Decca Release: SET 629: December 1978

CD 10
Recording Producer: Christopher Raeburn
Balance Engineers: Kenneth Wilkinson, Colin Moorfoot, John Dunkerley
Recording Location: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 16, 18, 19 & 21 February 1972
Original Decca Release: SXL 6584: October 1973

CD 11
Tracks 1-2
Recording Producer: Victor Olof
Balance Engineer: Cyril Windebank
Recording Location: Grosser Saal, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria, 20 May 1952
Original Decca Release: LW 5029: September 1953

Tracks 3-9
Recording Producer: Victor Olof
Balance Engineer: Cyril Windebank
Recording Location: Grosser Saal, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria, 21–23 April 1954
Original Decca Release: LXT 5017: February 1955

Tracks 10-12
Recording Producer: unknown
Balance Engineer: unknown
Recording Location: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 16–17 (Strauss), 18 (KV 416) & 27 January (KV 419) 1951
Original Decca Release: LX 3054: June 1951

CD 12
Recording Producer: Christopher Raeburn
Balance Engineers: James Brown, James Lock
Recording Location: Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria 9–11 September 1964
Original Decca Release: LXT 6146, SXT 6146: March 1965

CD 13
Recording Producer: Ray Minshull
Balance Engineer: Kenneth Wilkinson
Recording Location: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK, 25–28 April 1963
Original Decca Release: LXT 6068, SXL 6068: October 1963

CD 14
Tracks 1-7
Recording Producer: Christopher Raeburn
Balance Engineer: Arthur Lilley
Recording Location: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK, 22 June–4 July 1963
Original Decca Release: LXT 6079, SXL 6079: December 1963

Tracks 8-12
Recording Producers: Michael Bremner, Ray Minshull
Balance Engineers: Jack Law, Kenneth Wilkinson
Recording Location: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 30 May–3 June 1960
Original Decca Release: LXT 5602, SXL 2247: November 1960

CD 15
Recording Producers: John Culshaw, Erik Smith
Balance Engineers: Gordon Parry, James Brown
Recording Location: Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria, 28–30 October 1957
Original Decca Release: LXT 5429-30, SXL 2074-75: May 1959

CD 16
Recording Producers: John Culshaw, Erik Smith
Balance Engineers: Gordon Parry, James Brown
Recording Location: Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria, 13–17 May 1957
Original Decca Release: LXT 5389-90 (mono): December 1957; SXL 2031-32 (stereo): November 1958

CD 17
Track 1
Recording Producer: John Culshaw
Balance Engineers: Gordon Parry, James Brown
Recording Location: Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria, 27–28 May 1957
Original Decca Release: LXT 5389-90 (mono): December 1957; SXL 2031-32 (stereo): November 1958

Tracks 2-3
Recording Producers: Victor Olof, Peter Andry
Balance Engineers: Gordon Parry, James Brown
Recording Location: Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria, 3–6 June 1956
Original Decca Release: LXT 5389-90 (mono): December 1957

Tracks 4-6
Recording Producers: Christopher Raeburn, John Culshaw
Balance Engineers: Gordon Parry, James Brown
Recording Location: Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria, 22–25 September 1959
Original Decca Releases: LXT 5559, SXL 2184: February 1960

CD 18
Tracks 1-4
Recording Producers: John Culshaw, Christopher Raeburn
Balance Engineers: Gordon Parry, James Brown
Recording Location: Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria, October 1961
Original Decca Release: MET 228-29: March 1962

Tracks 5-7
Recording Producers: John Culshaw, Christopher Raeburn
Balance Engineers: Gordon Parry, James Brown
Recording Location: Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria, November 1964
Original Decca Release: SET 292-97: May 1965

CD 19
Recording Producers: Christopher Raeburn, Richard Beswick
Balance Engineers: Kenneth Wilkinson, Colin Moorfoot
Recording Location: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 15–17 February 1976
Original Decca Release: SET 617: November 1976

CD 20
Recording Producer: David Harvey
Balance Engineer: Kenneth Wilkinson
Recording Location: Salle Alcazar, Monte Carlo, Monaco 28–30 April & 2 May 1969
Original Decca Release: SET 422: January 1970

 

Reviews

‘Lisa della Casa is an enchanting Arabella whose voice blends ideally with the no less clear but harder-grained soprano of Hilde Gueden.’ The Record Guide, 1955 (Strauss, Arabella)

‘This release’s chief attraction – apart from its excellent sound – is [Corena’s] splendid performance of the Cimarosa intermezzo, easily the best on records.’ High Fidelity, April 1961 (Cimarosa, Il Maestro di capella)

‘I recommend this delightful disc enthusiastically to all who enjoy Viennese operetta.’ Gramophone, December 1961 (Kalman, Gräfin Mariza)

‘A fascinating disc … A pure, heroic style is what Nilsson gives us on this record. The many exposed notes have a ping about them, and one tenses with excitement at the accuracy.’ Gramophone, October 1963 (Verdi, Aida)

‘Everything that sounds a bit contrived in Evans’s portrayal [of Falstaff] sounds natural in Corena’s; there is more bubbling fun, more bite, more elegance in the pointing of words… This sounds like a lovable. genuinely funny Sir John … these passages play well even out of context.’ High Fidelity, March 1964 (Verdi, Falstaff)

‘The result is far more spectacular and exciting Handel than one is used to hearing.’ Stereo Review, April 1965 (Handel, Giulio Cesare)

‘Ghiaurov’s contribution … is equal to the best I have ever heard.’ Gramophone, September 1967 (Boito, Mefistofele)

‘[Sutherland] is heard in only two arias – but what arias they are! And how she sings them!’ Stereo Review, February 1969 (Graun, Montezuma)

‘Spectacular is the word for Marilyn Horne’s achievement here. These Rossini excerpts offer the most intricately contrived, the most excessively ornamented, and the widest-ranging vocal music imaginable … Miss Horne triumphs over them fearlessly … in this splendid display of golden-age -quality singing.’ Stereo Review, August 1973 (Rossini, L’assedio di Corinto etc)

‘Maria Chiara as Susanna is sweet and charming throughout … this triumphant recording should vastly increase the number of [the opera’s] turntable partisans.’ Stereo Review, June 1977 (Wolf-Ferrari, Il segreto di Susanna)

‘Sumi Jo is on top form, her sparkling coloratura diamond bright and effortlessly fluent … With effervescent playing from the WNO Orchestra and engaging, idiomatic singing from John Aler and Michel Trempont, this is a delightful confection.’ BBC Music Magazine (Adam, Le toréador)

If you have an interest in vocal music, this set is recommended with unreserved enthusiasm.’ Fanfare, November 2017 (Kolassi singing Berlioz and Massenet)