Mad Scenes: The Crazy Women of Opera

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Saturday, November 08, 2014

Leonie Rysanek as Sieglinde in 'Die Walküre.' Leonie Rysanek as Sieglinde in 'Die Walküre.' (Ron Scherl/Redferns/Getty)

Sopranos don’t get mad; they get mad scenes. Sopranos love them and operavores go wild for them. It’s a chance for sopranos to pull out all the stops and indulge in vocal pyrotechnics and operatic histrionics. Host Debbie Voigt presents favorite mad scenes from their heyday, from Bellini and Donizetti, through Verdi, Wagner and Menotti.

This week features deranged divas including Maria Callas, Natalie Dessay, Waltraud Meier, Leonie Rysanek and others.

Program playlist:

I puritani :  “Vien, diletto”
Vincenzo Bellini
Maria Callas, soprano
Rolando Panerai, baritone
Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, bass
Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro alla Scala di Milano
Tullio Serafin, conductor
EMI Classics  5 56275 2

Lucia di Lammermoor:  “Il dolce suono & “Ardon gli incense”
Gaetano Donizetti
Beverly Sills, soprano
Justino Diaz, bass
Keith Erwen, tenor
London Symphony Orchestra
Thomas Schippers, conductor
Universal Music 289 471 250-2

Hamlet  “Et maintenant écoutez ma chanson!”
Ambroise Thomas 
June Anderson, soprano
The London Philharmonic
Antonio de Almeida, conductor
EMI Classics 7 54820 2

La sonnambula: “Ah! Non credea mirarti”
Vincenzo Bellini
Natalie Dessay, soprano
Frencesco Meli, tenor
Sara Mingardo, mezzo soprano
Orchestre & Choeurs de l’Opera de Lyon
Evelino Pidò, conductor
Virgin Classics 395138

Macbeth:  "Una macchia"
Giuseppe Verdi
Leonie Rysanek, soprano
Carlotta Ordassy, mezzo soprano
Physician:  Gerhard Pechner
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus
Erich Leinsdorf, conductor
Live performance recorded February 21, 1959
Sony Classical 88883 72120 2

The Medium:  “The Black Swan”
Gian Carlo Menotti
Patrice Michaels Bedi, soprano
Joyce Castle, mezzo soprano
Ensemble of Chicago Opera Theater
Lawrence Rapchak, conductor
Cedille Records CDR 90000 034

Die Walküre: “Hinweg! – “Horch! Die Horner!”
Richard Wagner
Waltraud Meier, soprano
Bavarian State Orchestra
Zubin Mehta, conductorFARAO classics B 108 040

Les Contes d’Hoffmann:  Act III conclusion (Antonia)
Jacques Offenbach
Edita Gruberova, soprano
Christa Ludwig, mezzo soprano
Plàcido Domingo, tenor
James Morris, bass baritone
Orchestre National de France
Seiji Ozawa, conductor
DG 427 682-2

Comments [5]

Michael from Saratoga Springs, NY

I agree with those who are missing Joan Sutherland, surely one of the great voices in recent memory. However, it is virtually impossible to make a mad scene work without diction. It is surprising that Callas singing Lady Macbeth's Sleepwalking Scene was not included. This must be one of the most exceptional realizations of detail in all recorded opera: inspired attention given to text, composer's wishes with an unbelievable variety of tone colors. (But, one cannot include every singer and every great recording in one broadcast.)

Jan. 24 2015 01:31 PM

No Joan Sutherland? Seriously?

Nov. 15 2014 12:25 PM
Reinette from Westchester NY

Natalie Dessay again? Another person who agrees with A. Serio from
New Jersey.

Nov. 10 2014 11:15 AM
M Chase from NYC

I have to agree with A. Serio from New Jersey. No Joan Sutherland?
A rather big lapse in planning this particular program and somewhat bewildering.

Nov. 08 2014 06:14 PM
A. Serio from New Jersey

A presentation featuring opera mad scenes without an excerpt from Joan Sutherland just seems incomplete to me. Ms. Sutherland's recordings of "Les Contes d'Hoffman", "Lucia di Lammermoor", "Hamlet", "I Puritani" and "La Sonnambula" include some of the most exciting examples of these arias ever to be released. To not showcase one of the greatest interpreters of this genre was surprising and it deprived the listening audience from hearing some spectacular singing.

Nov. 08 2014 02:09 PM

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