WDBX Opera Overnight: Strauss, Handel

Theaterzettel zur Premiere der Richard-Strauss...

Playbill from the premiere of Salome, at the Dresden SemperOpera, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our first opera tonight is perhaps one of the more controversial operas in operatic history.  Salome was premiered in 1905, and within two years was banned in London and New York.  Of course, this should not be surprising, given the opera’s infamous Dance of the Seven Veils (which is a striptease, with many modern performers finishing the scene nude), and the finale in which Salome kisses the beheaded head of John the Baptist.  Yet the music is downright exquisite, a showpiece for strong-voice sopranos, and ranks among some of the most forward-looking music of the early 20th century.

Tonight’s recording is considered one of the best available recordings of the work, featuring the legendary soprano Birgit Nilsson and and Gerhard Stolze, along with Grace Hoffman and Eberhard Wächter leading a fine cast.  Sir Georg Solti leads the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Our next opera was financially considered one of George Frideric Handel’s greatest failures.  Ezio only received 5 performances when Handel premiered it in 1732, then fell from the repertoire and was not performed again until 1977 (a victim of the decline in popularity of the opera seria style).  Tonight’s performance is a 2009 recording with Ann Hallenberg, Karina Gauvin, Sonia Prina, Marianne Andersen, Anicio Giustiniani, Vito Priante; Il Complesso Barocco is conducted by Alan Curtis.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s