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Cat. No. CHAN 3044 Price: £9 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 3044 - Great Operatic Arias, Vol. 6 - John Tomlinson
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Available From: 19 October 2000
Handel’s basses, when not subsidiary characters, can be like Polyphemus in Acis and Galatea and like Harapha in Samson: blustering blaggarts. Mozart too wrote important bass roles: for the benevolent mage, the stern father and the ferocious blusterer who was to be viewed in humorous fashion.

The bass role in Ottocento opera seria was typically a noble, authoritative ruler, a grave priest, or a loving, possibly severe father. Silva in Ernani is an exception: the bass lover – one of the three men, the tenor, the baritone and the bass – who seek the heroine’s hand. Fiesco, the grieving father from Simon Boccanegra, was from the start designated a primo basso profondo role.

The Miller in Russalka, one of Chaliapin’s favourite roles, opens the opera in jolly, opéra-comique vein giving his daughter some worldly advice. Offenbach’s Geneviève de Brabant first appeared in 1859. The ‘couplets des deux hommes d’armes’ was added for a revival in 1867. The censor tried to stop it, but was persuaded that only medieval, not modern, policemen were being mocked, and the duet became the hit of the show.

Many composers have set the ‘Song of the Flea’ from Goethe’s Faust. Mussorgsky’s setting was his last song, composed little more than a year before his death. Commentators have often regretted that this product of his disordered, alcoholic final years should become his best-known song.

The Pirates of Penzance opened on New Year’s Eve 1879 and was an immediate hit; ‘A policeman’s lot’ was regularly encored. The Mikado appeared at the Savoy Theatre in March 1885. The song ‘A more humane Mikado’ was nearly cut and only survived thanks to a company protest. On the first night and often thereafter it was encored.

Borodin began Prince Igor in 1869 and at his death in 1887 was still unfinished. Liadov, Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov all contributed to the score, which had its first performance in 1890. Liza Lehmann’s In a Persian Garden is a cycle of thirteen songs selected from FitzGerald’s The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám and had its first performance in 1896.
Reviews

‘John Tomlinson… is undeniably authoritative and persuasive.’
American Record Guide on CHAN 3017(2) (Mary Stuart)

‘John Tomlinson’s Ochs projects the text with enormous relish…’
The Telegraph on CHAN 3022 (Der Rosenkavalier (highlights))

John Tomlinson is one of the finest singing actors on the opera scene today. He is unsurpassed in Wagner, but here he displays his versatility and his exemplary diction in a highly eclectic programme of arias in English…
BBC Music Magazine

‘A strong voice, varied repertoire and vivid characterization make this an appealing disc’.
Gramophone

‘John Tomlinson… is a credibly horrible Sparafucile.’
Classic CD on CHAN 3030(2) (Rigoletto)

The versatility of John Tomlinson is breathtaking'
The Guardian

 

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