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Opera In English - Bartok: Bluebeard's Castle


Release Date: 06/27/2006 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 3133   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Béla Bartók
Performer:  Sally BurgessJohn Tomlinson
Conductor:  Richard Farnes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Opera North Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This opera, so dependent on the wedding of text and music, is a natural candidate for Opera-in-English (I believe one of the first recordings of the work, with Jerome Hines and Rosalind Elias, was in English). The argument that Bartók carefully composed it to match the rises and falls of Hungarian remains valid, but understanding the text is just as important to listeners. The diction of both John Tomlinson and Sally Burgess is impeccable without being too stilted (read: British); of course the bass and mezzo-soprano voices are easier to understand than the higher ranges.

Both singers are superb here. If Tomlinson is sounding a bit old, he's certainly not sounding weak, and the pitch-darkness of his tone is just right
Read more for this enigma of a man. "Forbidding" is the word that comes to mind. (He also speaks the Prologue, and sounds properly dour.) Burgess does almost everything right (she drops the high-C at the fifth door too quickly for it to have the resounding effect it ought to) and she can sound genuinely frightened without overstating or exaggerating. Her performance is all-of-a-piece; she's thoroughly believable.

The score is a study in brightness and grief, chiaroscurically speaking, and the clarity of the recording, the elegance and excellence of the playing of Opera North's Orchestra, and the leadership of Richard Farnes lets us experience most of the contrasts. It's not as vivid as renditions by Solti or Kertesz, but it's fine nonetheless. After the Kertesz (with Ludwig and Berry), this set is a fine choice if the English language doesn't get in your way--or if it's exactly what you need.

--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Bluebeard's Castle, Op. 11/Sz 48 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Sally Burgess (Mezzo Soprano), John Tomlinson (Baritone)
Conductor:  Richard Farnes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Opera North Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911/1918; Budapest, Hungary 
Language: English 

Sound Samples

Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): Prologue: Bluebeard's castle, a myth, a legend (Minstrel)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): Opening: Will you enter? Look around you (Bluebeard)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): Opening: Here I am in Bluebeard's castle (Judith)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): Opening: Tell me why you came here, Judith (Bluebeard)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): Opening: Ah! I can see 7 doorways (Judith)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): First Door: The Torture Chamber: Oh, I heard your castle sighing (Judith)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): First Door: The Torture Chamber: What's there? What's there? (Bluebeard)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): Second Door: The Armoury: What's there? (Bluebeard)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): Second Door: The Armoury: Trembling seizes all my castle (Bluebeard)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): Third Door: The Treasury: Glittering gold! (Judith)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): Fourth Door: The Secret Garden: Oh! Lovely flowers! Oh! Beautiful scents (Judith)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): Fifth Door: Bluebeard's Kingdom: Ah! (Judith)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): Fifth Door: Bluebeard's Kingdom: Look! Brightness has filled my castle (Bluebeard)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): Sixth Door: Tears: Silent tranquil peaceful waters ... (Judith)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): Sixth Door: Tears: My last door will stay unopened (Bluebeard)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): Sixth Door: Tears: Tell me truly, tell me Bluebeard (Judith)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): Sixth Door: Tears: I know what's behind it Bluebeard (Judith)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): Seventh Door: Bluebeard's Former Wives: Look upon the other women (Bluebeard)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): Seventh Door: Bluebeard's Former Wives: Daybreak - when I found the first one (Bluebeard)
Bluebeard's Castle (sung in English): Seventh Door: Bluebeard's Former Wives: Midnight - when I found the fourth floor (Bluebeard)

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