Arrigo Boito's treatment of the Faust legend is imaginative yet also faithful to Goethe's original conception, and the score is memorable for its rich orchestral sounds, beautifully punctuated with lyrical passages and choral interludes. Robert Carsen's sumptuous, post-modern production of Mefistofele is a gloriously decadent and theatrically stunning realisation, and the San Francisco Opera's performance has been unanimously acclaimed in both Paris and San Francisco. Samuel Ramey, in the title role, has won both critical and overwhelming popular approval.
Filmed live at the Vienna State Opera in December 1983, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s elegant staging of Manon captures all the pathos of Massenet’s masterpiece. Adam Fischer leads an all-star cast featuring the incomparable Edita Gruberova in the title role and the brilliant Francisco Araiza as Le chevalier des Grieux. Massenet’s Manon was immensely successful from the outset, and it has remained a hit ever since its world premiere in Paris in 1884.
BIS has done it again! If you’ve been collecting any of the marvelous unknown composers that this label has been advocating over the years, including Tubin, Tveitt, Klami, or (from this source) Guarnieri, then you’re going to love this fabulous new disc of music by Brazilian composer Francisco Mignone (1897-1986). He’s best known today for his shorter piano pieces, which appear on numerous Latin American keyboard music collections–but there’s much more to him than that. The son of Italian immigrants, Mignone’s music sounds like an Afro-Brazilian homage to Respighi, Puccini, and Stravinsky–but as happens so often in these cases, whatever he may lack in sheer originality he more than makes up for in melodic spontaneity and in finding a mix of ingredients that is his alone. This disc, which shows the work of a superb craftsman and an orchestrator every bit on the level of the three composers just mentioned, only whets the appetite for more–much more.
Metallica release their new live album, Metallica and San Francisco Symphony: S&M2. S&M2 is the follow-up to the band’s 1999 live album S&M, and was recorded in San Francisco over two nights in September 2019 with the San Francisco Symphony to commemorate the 20th anniversary of S&M.
The production and video direction are by British film-maker Ken Russell who puts his own stamp on the production. Russell told an interviewer he felt the plot was "silly" so he turned Marguerite into a young nun, eliminated the Walpurgis Night ballet, had Marguerite use sign-language for Valentin's deaf-mute children, and had Mephistopheles disrespectfully urinating in the stoup in church. However, the overall effect is visually engrossing, the vivid sets and costumes by Karl Toms are effective. And the singing is outstanding.
André Previn turned seventy in 1999. From Berlin refugee to multi-Oscar-winning film score composer, from great jazz pianist to chief conductor of both the London Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras, through four marriages including Mia Farrow and present wife Heather, with an honorary knighthood for his services to British music, his story is extraordinary. Previn's remarkable career reached a climax in September 1998 with the premier of his first opera, A Streetcar Named Desire. He also conducted the production at the San Francisco Opera, with Renée Fleming as Blanche.
“Ponnelle's film of his La Scala staging is so imaginative and musically refined that it triumphs over the dubbing. Von Stade is an achingly beautiful Cinderella, Araiza a romantic Prince.” BBC Music Magazine