WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

J. Strauss Jr.: Operettas / Boskovsky, Welser-Most

Operettas / Various
Release Date: 01/14/2014 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 8466429   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.
Performer:  Elizabeth MagnusonMartina JankovaMichael VolleAlexander Pereira,   ... 
Conductor:  Franz Welser-MöstFranz AllersWilli Boskovsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Opera ChorusZurich Opera OrchestraBavarian State Opera Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 10 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Johann Strauss II was deservedly known as the ‘Waltz King’, and his talent for writing captivating dance melodies was ideally suited to the sparkling world of operetta. Featuring a host of star performers such as Nicolai Gedda, Brigitte Fassbaender, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Rita Streich, Hermann Prey, and Grace Bumbry, this set includes some of Strauss’s most popular and enduring masterpieces in the genre, as well as the lesser-known Simplicius, heard here in its acclaimed world premiere recording under the baton of Franz Welser-Most.

Reviews of some of the original recordings that make up this set:

Eine Nacht In Venedig
Performances of Eine Nacht in Venedig ("A Night in
Read more Venice") regularly depart significantly from what Johann Strauss would have recognized as his score. This 1967 recording departs more than most. Its basis is the usual 1920s version by Marischka and Korngold, which revised Strauss's score and added material from his other operettas. In addition, EMI here add a further five numbers—all of them posthumous Strauss arrangements, four of them from the 1928 Casanova—in order to clarify the motivation for the action and provide parts for Anneliese Rothenberger and Hermann Prey.

The result is obviously a rag-bag, but enjoyable enough as such. Gedda is excellent—more the experienced seducer than his youthful self in EMI's 1954 mono recording conducted by Ackermann. His "Sei mir gegrüsst" is superb. Rita Streich, if not matching Schwarzkopf's sheer glory of sound as Annina (Ackerman), is appealingly sweet-voiced and perhaps the more convincing fisher-girl. Cesare Curzi is a somewhat pinched-voiced Caramello, who, by contrast with Kunz in the 1954 recording, retains his Act 1 Gondola Song but loses to the Duke his Act 3 Lagoon Waltz. I particularly like Hans-Gunther Grimm's baritone Pappacoda, attractively partnered by Christine Görner as Ciboletta. Franz Allers directs a lively enough account of the score.

– Gramophone [7/1989]

Die Fledermaus
This 1971 recording has always stirred controversy: Some feel its Viennese-ness is overdone, especially by Fischer-Dieskau as Falke, but others, like myself, just love its spiritedness and energy, and yes, even its schmaltz. Willi Boskovsky leads a lilting, light performance with just enough schlag for my taste, and I find his cast charming. Anneliese Rothenberger is a good Rosalind, missing only a certain ironic class to be ideal; Nicolai Gedda has a great time singing Eistenstein; Renate Holm’s Adele is perky and a touch acidic in a predictable way; Fischer-Dieskau is almost visual as Falke; Walter Berry’s Frank is very good; Adolf Dallapozza’s Alfred is missing just a bit of Italianate morbidezza (he breaks into “Wintersturme” where many Alfreds opt for an Italian aria); and best of all, Brigitte Fassbaender’s Orlovsky is fabulous–funny, butch, and beautifully sung. The Vienna forces play and sing with their hearts. This is a really good choice if you need a Fledermaus, and the sound is first rate.

– Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com

Even after the recent release of an Austrian Radio recording of Der lustige Krieg (ORF CD240), Simplicius would not be the Johann Strauss operetta most obviously demanding revival. Despite two major revisions, it achieved no more than 40 performances at the Theater an der Wien between 1887 and 1894. That it was revived in Zurich last October to mark the centenary of Strauss’s death was due primarily to the rediscovery of complete performing material for the revised version in which the operetta was seen outside Vienna.

Based on J J C von Grimmelhausen’s Der abenteuerliche Simplicissimus (‘The adventurous Simplicius’), it tells of the military and amorous adventures of an innocent peasant-boy during the 17th-century Thirty Years War. Its libretto was by the young Victor Leon, future co- librettist of Die lustige Witwe, but Strauss was less than ideally equipped to exploit the satirical opportunities Leon’s book offered. The operetta comes from the period when Strauss was pursuing his serious aspirations, and it immediately preceded his opera Ritter Pasman. The general tone of the music is close to that of Der Zigeunerbaron, but without such rewarding high spots. The best numbers come early in the Third Act – notably the Hermit’s waltz-romance ‘Ich denke gern zuruck’ and the beautiful duet ‘Also, du bist ein Freiersmann?’ for Simplicius and his sweetheart Tilly. The act also contains Armin’s ‘Der Fruhling lacht’, which Marischka and Korngold appropriated for the Duke’s ‘Sei mir gegrusst’ in their revision of Eine Nacht in Venedig. The attractive waltz Donauweibchen, on themes from the operetta, is also added as a ballet in this production.

I can’t pretend this is a lost masterpiece, though it certainly contains some attractive numbers. What cannot be in doubt is the quality of the performance, with Martin Zysset, Piotr Beczala and Michael Volle all giving clear, ringing performances, and Elizabeth Magnuson making her Act 2 entrance-song another highlight. Franz Welser-Most caresses the Viennese rhythms lovingly. We may not get a further opportunity to hear this work, and Strauss admirers and lovers of operatic rarities should seize the opportunity to do so while it’s here.

– Andrew Lamb, Gramophone [11/2000] Read less

Works on This Recording

Simplicius by Johann Strauss Jr.
Performer:  Elizabeth Magnuson (Mezzo Soprano), Martina Jankova (Soprano), Michael Volle (Baritone),
Alexander Pereira (), Piotr Beczala (Tenor), Martin Zysset (Baritone),
Cheyne Davidson (Baritone), Heikki Yrttiaho (), Rolf Haunstein (Baritone),
Jörg Heppe (), Meinholf Kalkuhl (), Oliver Widmer (Baritone)
Conductor:  Franz Welser-Möst
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Opera Chorus,  Zurich Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/1999 
Venue:  Live  Zurich Opera House, Germany 
Length: 117 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Language: German 
Der Zigeunerbaron by Johann Strauss Jr.
Performer:  Nicolai Gedda (Tenor), Wolfgang Anheisser (Baritone), Kurt Böhme (Bass),
Rita Streich (Soprano), Gisela Litz (Mezzo Soprano), Grace Bumbry (Mezzo Soprano),
Willi Brokmeier (Tenor), Biserka Cvejik (Mezzo Soprano), Hermann Prey (Baritone)
Conductor:  Franz Allers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1885; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 07/1969 
Venue:  Munich, West Germany 
Length: 101 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Language: German 
Eine Nacht in Venedig by Johann Strauss Jr.
Performer:  Anneliese Rothenberger (Soprano), Rita Streich (Soprano), Christine Görner (Soprano),
Hermann Prey (Baritone), Nicolai Gedda (Tenor), Cesare Curzi (Tenor),
Gisela Litz (Mezzo Soprano), Marjorie Heistermann (Soprano), Christian Oppelberg (Baritone),
Theodor Nicolai (Bass), Franz Weiss (Spoken Vocals), Karl Kreille (Spoken Vocals),
Hans Günter Grimm (Bass)
Conductor:  Franz Allers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Graunke Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1967 
Venue:  Bürgerbräu, Munich, Germany 
Length: 95 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Language: German 
Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss Jr.
Performer:  Brigitte Fassbaender (Mezzo Soprano), Walter Berry (Bass Baritone), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone),
Otto Schenk (Spoken Vocals), Anneliese Rothenberger (Soprano), Nicolai Gedda (Tenor)
Conductor:  Willi Boskovsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Wiener Symphoniker
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1972 
Language: German 
Wiener Blut by Johann Strauss Jr.
Performer:  Helga Schramm (Spoken Vocals), Karin Stranig (Spoken Vocals), Nicolai Gedda (Tenor),
Klaus Hirte (Baritone), Anneliese Rothenberger (Soprano), Renate Holm (Soprano),
Hans Putz (Bass Baritone), Gerd W. Dieberitz (Spoken Vocals), Gabriele Fuchs (Soprano),
Heinz Zednik (Tenor)
Conductor:  Willi Boskovsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Hungarica,  Cologne Opera Chorus,  Vienna Schrammel Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1976 
Venue:  Festspielhaus Recklinghausen, Germany 
Length: 97 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Language: German 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Delightful Listening March 13, 2014 By J. Warner (Voorhees, NJ) See All My Reviews "Of course I am familiar with a few of the Strauss waltz canon, but have not listened to very many of his complete operettas. I am familiar with Die Fledermaus, but the others are unknown to me. I thoroughly enjoyed this set. The music is all lilting, familiar or not, the performances bright and ebullient. This set was a real find!" Report Abuse
 A sure thing  February 8, 2014 By K. BAKER (HEBER CITY, UT) See All My Reviews "I have CD's of all these operetta's and I don't know to what degree my collection matches up to what's in this set, so I can't comment on the particular performances, but I can comment on the works contained in this set -- buy it. At $29.99, you can't go wrong." Report Abuse
Review This Title