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James Levine's 25th Anniversary - Metropolitan Opera Gala


Release Date: 10/15/1996 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 449177   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Georges BizetGustave CharpentierCharles GounodFranz Lehár,   ... 
Performer:  Roberto AlagnaBryn TerfelRenée FlemingSamuel Ramey,   ... 
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

A Gala of Galas. A host of operatic stars celebrate 25 years of Levine at the Met in grand style.

This Gala of Galas was held on 27 April 1996 to celebrate James Levine’s 25th Anniversary with the Metropolitan. He made his début with a matinee performance of Tosca on 5 June 1971 when Grace Bumbry sang the title role; Franco Corelli was Cavaradossi and Peter Glossop, in his debut at the Metropolitan, sang Scarpia. Appropriately Grace Bumbry makes an appearance here as a wildly seductive Dalila in the Saint-Saëns opera. Another veteran of The Met, Birgit Nilsson - who made her New York debut as Isolde under Karl Böhm - delivers a witty and moving, spoken tribute to the Maestro towards the end of the Gala
Read more and shows, in a brief snatch of aria. that she still has power and range.

Quoting from the DVD booklet, "In the course of 25 years, having risen from Principal Conductor (1973) to Music Director (1976) and Artistic Director (1986), Levine had conducted a repertoire ranging from Mozart to Berg and Weill, with all the great Verdis and Wagners in between, and overseen the Met débuts of many of the stars who came along to sing at this Gala, from Cotrubas to Terfel, Mattila to Meier. The statistics at the time of the Gala were astonishing enough – over 1,500 performances of 68 operas ..."

The prodigious programme, cast across two very full DVDs, is set out in full in the above lengthy heading. No doubt this DVD will sell according to buyers’ tastes. Not surprisingly all of the excerpts are sung not in operatic costume but in modern evening dress against a number of shared ‘classical’ backdrops of colonnades, balconies, platforms, drapes, tapestries and banks of flowers.

Clearly it would be tedious for me to cover every track in this collection. However the stellar cast plus the enthusiastic and committed playing of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and, where appropriate, the singing of the Met Choir make this Gala an outstanding operatic experience to treasure. I will cover some excerpts that particularly impressed me.

The Wagner excerpts are the most substantial and, for me, the most impressive. The audience were very fulsome in their applause for Waltraud Meier as Isolde. Meier is all fire and outrage as she curses Tristan when she discovers he had killed her fiancée Morold and has delivered her like a chattel to his uncle, King Marke. Jane Eaglen is no less powerful, heroic and vengeful of the Valhalla Gods in the long and demanding closing aria of Götterdämmerung. The Met Orchestra’s brass ring out thrillingly in the Rienzi Overture that opens the Gala. The Met Choir’s ‘Wach auf!’ from Meistersinger forms a moving and fitting close to the evening.

It was wonderful to hear the firm confident tenor voice of Carlo Bergonzi, who first appeared at the Met as long ago as 1956, in the aria from Verdi’s Luisa Miller.

Another Verdi highlight is the highly dramatic Ernani excerpt with a glowering and unforgiving Roberto Scandiuzzi as Silva and Placido Domingo as the hapless, deranged Ernani (Don Juan) and Deborah Voigt as his unfortunate lover Elvira.

I must mention Domingo who impresses as Faust in the Gounod excerpt with Samuel Ramey as Méphistophélès.

Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna had married at New York’s City Hall during a Met engagement. They are deliciously romantically united in the Mascagni duet from L’amico Fritz.

Renée Fleming shines in another lovely romantic aria from Gustav Charpentier’s Louise. Another gorgeous highlight, again starring Renée Fleming is the final trio from Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier with Fleming (as the Marschallin) joined by two other remarkable sopranos: Anne Sophie Von Otter (Octavian) and Heidi Grant Murphy (as Sophie).

Finally I must mention another Met veteran Sherrill Milnes. His commanding presence lifts the Andrea Chénier aria; and Kiri Te Kanawa is equally compelling in her anguished aria from Mozart’s Don Giovanni in which she laments that her tormented heart still feels pity for the man who betrayed her.

A Gala of Galas. A host of operatic stars celebrate 25 years of Levine at the Met in grand style.

-- Ian Lace, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Les pêcheurs de perles: Au fond du temple saint by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Roberto Alagna (Tenor), Bryn Terfel (Bass Baritone)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; France 
Date of Recording: 04/27/1996 
Venue:  Live  Metropolitan Opera House, New York City 
Length: 6 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Language: French 
2.
Louise: Depuis le jour by Gustave Charpentier
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1900; France 
Date of Recording: 04/27/1996 
Venue:  Live  Metropolitan Opera House, New York City 
Length: 5 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Language: French 
3.
Faust: Me voici!...D'où vient ta surprise? by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Samuel Ramey (Bass), Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Placido Domingo (Tenor)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Date of Recording: 04/27/1996 
Venue:  Live  Metropolitan Opera House, New York City 
Length: 10 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Language: French 
4.
Giuditta: Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiss by Franz Lehár
Performer:  Ileana Cotrubas (Soprano)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1934; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/27/1996 
Venue:  Live  Metropolitan Opera House, New York City 
Length: 4 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Language: German 
5.
Don Carlos: O don fatale by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Dolora Zajic (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Date of Recording: 04/27/1996 
Venue:  Live  Metropolitan Opera House, New York City 
Length: 5 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
6.
Don Giovanni, K 527: Sola, sola in bujo loco by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (Soprano), Renée Fleming (Soprano), Bryn Terfel (Bass Baritone),
Julien Robbins (Bass), Jerry Hadley (Tenor), Hong Hei-Kyung (Soprano)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787; Prague, Czech Republ 
Date of Recording: 04/27/1996 
Venue:  Live  Metropolitan Opera House, New York City 
Length: 8 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
7.
Roméo et Juliette: Je veux vivre dans le rêve "Waltz Song" by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Ruth Ann Swenson (Soprano)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; France 
Date of Recording: 04/27/1996 
Venue:  Live  Metropolitan Opera House, New York City 
Length: 4 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Language: French 
8.
Werther: Pourquoi me réveiller? by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus (Tenor)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; France 
Date of Recording: 04/27/1996 
Venue:  Live  Metropolitan Opera House, New York City 
Length: 2 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Language: French 
9.
Tannhäuser: Dich, teure Halle by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Deborah Voigt (Soprano), Roberto Alagna (Tenor)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845/1861; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/27/1996 
Venue:  Live  Metropolitan Opera House, New York City 
Length: 3 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Language: German 
10.
La Périchole: Ah! quel dîner by Jacques Offenbach
Performer:  Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868/1874; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 04/27/1996 
Venue:  Live  Metropolitan Opera House, New York City 
Length: 2 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Language: French 
11.
Der Rosenkavalier, Op. 59: Marie Theres'...Hab' mir's gelobt by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano), Heidi Grant Murphy (Mezzo Soprano), Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1909-1910; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/27/1996 
Venue:  Live  Metropolitan Opera House, New York City 
Length: 6 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Language: German 
12.
Die Fledermaus: Dieser Anstand, so manierlich by Johann Strauss Jr.
Performer:  Håkan Hagegård (Baritone), Karita Mattila (Soprano)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/27/1996 
Venue:  Live  Metropolitan Opera House, New York City 
Length: 4 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Language: German 
13.
Samson et Dalila, Op. 47: Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Grace Bumbry (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; France 
Date of Recording: 04/27/1996 
Venue:  Live  Metropolitan Opera House, New York City 
Length: 5 Minutes 57 Secs. 

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