GLUCK: Orfeo ed Euridice

More and more the big
companies mine through their vaults for re-releases in lines called
“Great Conductors in Greater Halls with the Greatest Repertory” or
“Adagios to take Valium by.” Most of the best opera sets now appear in
slim cases, with librettos unprovided (other than online).
 And with every re-release, the price gets lower.

Even more modest companies, such as Capriccio, can get in on the act.
The company has started a line called “editionopera,” and if this
Gluck Orfeo ed Euridice represents
the quality throughout the line, Capriccio should do very well. At
super-budget price, the packaging and graphic design don’t promise
much, but the performance is what matters, and quite a good one it is.

Recorded in 1978 in Budapest, the opera features Julia Hamari as Orfeo.
She has a most warm timbre that neither comes across as uncomfortably
masculine nor inappropriately feminine. Sounding most lovely in their
relatively brief appearances are Veronika Kincses as Euridice and Maria
Zempleni as Amore. The chorus of the Hungarian State Opera produces a
full, robust sound.

The conductor, Ervin Lukacs, does have the traditional harpsichord for
accompaniment. Otherwise, this performance will displease “historically
informed practice” adherents. Most other listeners will revel in the
lushness of the strings and the fullness of the orchestral textures.
Lukacs does adopt some speedy tempos at times, and some may feel that
the opera’s favorite number, “Che faro senza Euridice” could have been
lingered over a bit more. In such matters of taste, arguing avails
nothing, but the overall spirit of the recording rewards the
open-minded listener with its passion and professionalism.

The slim booklet has a detailed track listing, a brief note about the
opera and an even briefer story summary (the opera hardly requires a
lengthy one). The notes and summary come in German, English, and
Italian. Capriccio must not feel as if the French market for this
recording necessitates their inclusion.

This opera can be acquired in different editions, from the recent
Minkowski set with Richard Croft in the tenor lead, to a vintage
Monteux recording featuring Rïse Stevens, and even one with
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau mourning the loss of his Euridice. Now, for a
very agreeable price, collectors can add this worthy Capriccio set.
It’s is a bargain in all senses of the word.

Chris Mullins
Los Angeles Unified School District, Secondary Literacy

image_description=Christoph Willibald Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice
product_title=Christoph Willibald Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice
product_by=Hamari, Kincses, Zempleni, Orchester & Chor der ungarischen Staatsoper, Lukacs (cond.)
product_id=Capriccio 51 192 [2CDs]