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Weber: Oberon / Conlon, Lakes, Heppner, Voigt

Release Date: 10/02/2008 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 54739   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber
Performer:  Ludwig BoettgerMachiko ObataDwayne CroftVictoria Livengood,   ... 
Conductor:  James Conlon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Gürzenich OrchestraCologne Philharmonic OrchestraCologne State Opera Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Oberon (1826) is one of the most beautiful, fascinating and worthwhile of all 'problem operas'. Weber's last work, it was written for Covent Garden, on a libretto (by James Robinson Planché) that has ensured its marginal status ever after. Planché took a good tale of crusaders, Moors and fairies and reduced it to the lowest level of prevailing London taste. It was on this pantomimic hotchpotch that the mortally-ill composer — he died two months after the premiere — lavished his mature theatrical mastery; in Donald Tovey's famous phrase, he 'poured his last and finest music into a pig-trough'. Ever since the first success of the work, it has mostly lain on the shelf — loved for its economical miracles of melody and Read more orchestration, its astonishing varieties of atmosphere and mood, and despaired over for its gimcrack libretto. Until the day someone finally achieves a viably theatrical Oberon re-working, it's an opera probably best experienced on disc. EMI's new set, made with Cologne forces, is the second in modern times; DG's from the early Seventies (with Birgit Nilsson, the young Domingo and Bavarian Radio forces conducted by Kubelik) was recently reissued on CD. Both present the work in German translation rather than in the English original (in EMI's case, given its almost entirely North American cast, a curious decision). Both use narrators to summarise the passages of spoken dialogue (EMI's is a dreadful dullard). Kubelik brings to the orchestral and choral music a more lovingly colourful, plastic touch; Conlon's cast achieves a more agile command over the many styles of the music. If finally I admit a preference for the EMI recording, it's because Deborah Voigt makes a sumptuous but also warmly sympathetic heroine, and because the Canadian Ben Heppner (as the hero, Huon) reveals the most thrilling new tenor voice — big, clean, malleable, with a shining top — to reach the studios for a very long time.
Performance: ****
Sound: ****

-- Max Loppert, BBC Music Magazine
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Works on This Recording

Oberon, J 306 by Carl Maria von Weber
Performer:  Ludwig Boettger (Spoken Vocals), Machiko Obata (Soprano), Dwayne Croft (Bass),
Victoria Livengood (), Deborah Voigt (Soprano), Ben Heppner (Tenor),
Delores Ziegler (Mezzo Soprano), Gary Lakes (Tenor)
Conductor:  James Conlon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra,  Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra,  Cologne State Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1825-1826; Dresden, Germany 
Length: 134 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Arranged: Gustav Mahler (for concert performance) 

Featured Sound Samples

Act I: "Seit früh'ster Jugend im Kampf und Streit"
Act II: "Ozean! du Ungeheuer!"

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