Notes and Editorial Reviews
Hot on the heels of Decca's very fine but not definitive recording of Daphne starring the omnipresent Renée Fleming comes a new recording taped live in Venice in June, 2005, with June Anderson in the title role. The opera is subtitled "a bucolic tragedy" and I doubt the "bucolic" aspect of the score ever has been treated as literally or exquisitely as here: Conductor Stefan Anton Reck leads the opera's opening moments, with its plethora of woodwinds, in a positively sylvan manner; he practically lets us know what it's like to be Daphne. The bad news is that here, and throughout, his leadership can be more lovely than exciting--he's a bit slow, and dramatic tension falls by the wayside. Perhaps it's a matter of
taste and I like my bucolicism quicker, but I doubt it; overall, Reck seems more concerned with textures than drama. Occasionally stasis takes over, particularly in the opera's last half hour, where it's evident that basking in the sound of Strauss' great orchestration and Anderson's singing isn't everything.
Anderson is quite fine throughout, and the fact that her upper extension always has been strong works beautifully here--she soars through the stratosphere with ease. Her tone always had a tendency to harden, but she sings with more warmth these days, and she evokes Daphne's sadness at the death of Leukippos touchingly. It's an enchanting portrayal, missing only real verbal clarity to make it a complete winner.
Her two suitors are excellent: tenor Roberto Sacca sings Leukippos with pungency and a fine lyric sound (though Fritz Wunderlich on DG has yet to be bettered); and Scott MacAllister, in the cruelly written role of Apollo, is splendid, though perhaps a bit light for the part. Daniel Lewis Williams is a grave Peneios and Birgit Rennert's Gaea is dark and motherly. The Venice choristers are superb and the orchestra responds handsomely to Reck. In short, the Böhm/Gueden on DG remains first choice, with Bychkov/Fleming on Decca second--but this set has much to recommend it.
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Daphne, Op. 82 by Richard Strauss
Roberto Saccà (Tenor),
Scott MacAllister (Tenor),
Daniel Lewis Williams (Bass),
Stefano Ferrari (Tenor),
June Anderson (Soprano),
Birgit Remmert (Mezzo Soprano),
Liesl Odenweller (Soprano)
Stefan Anton Reck
Venice Teatro la Fenice Orchestra,
Venice Teatro la Fenice Chorus
Written: 1936-1937; Germany
Date of Recording: 06/2005
Venue: Live La Fenice Theater, Venice, Italy
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