Notes and Editorial Reviews
This reissue on EMI?s midpriced ?Encore? series restores to the catalog one of the most infectious of the many classic recordings from that label?s important survey of Viennese operettas from the 1960s and early 1970s. EMI released this
in 1971 and it retains the tubby, over-reverberant acoustics of many of its recordings of that vintage. This time, though, the production has been stripped of dialogue and re-packaged as a single disc of musical excerpts, a fact likely to please the casual lover of operetta music. Actually, very little significant musical material is missing here.
, the act I finale (actually, a reprise), and the Entr?actes to acts II and III are missing, along with a number in the original recording that had been imported from the operetta
Das Veilchen vom Montmarte.
Yet another number that had been included in the second act of the original recording (the duet for Edwin and Boni, ?Nimm Zigeuner, deine Geige?) has been transposed back to its original third act context.
But the glories of this release were the voices, and Willy Mattes?s cannily idiomatic feel for the rhythms of this pulsing score. Anneliese Rothenberger?s rich soprano was rarely caught as satisfyingly as in her clearly articulated Sylva, come to life from the beginning of her entrance number, ?Heia, heia, in den Bergen ist mein Heimatland.? The comic panache of baritone Willi Brokmeier as Boni is swaggeringly present throughout, and the incomparable Nicolai Gedda is caught in clear, ringing voice. Only mezzo Olivera Miljakovic, the Countess Stasi, comes across as a disappointment, her voice hooty and unfocused at full volume, though lovely at pianissimo.
Uniting all this is the tightly sprung, detailed contribution of the Graunke Symphony Orchestra under Willy Mattes, who teases a loving and idiomatic, dancing rubato from practically every number. Nothing is routine, with instrumental interludes, as in the ?Swallow Duet? multilayered and subtle, played with a commitment rarely associated with such light repertoire. If you do not find yourself humming and tapping to the catchy ?Das ist die Liebe,? or feel a catching in your throat from Gedda?s broad refrain in ?Weiss du es noch?? you are not human. Or, at least, you are insusceptible to the charms of Viennese opera. No text is provided, but a detailed synopsis is keyed to the tracks. Warmly recommended.
FANFARE: Christopher Williams
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