Alan Opie

Baritone

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Walton: The Bear

Walton: The Bear


Sir William Walton wrote two operas, the second – The Bear – far more readily acclaimed than the first, and more often performed. Its premiere took place in Aldeburgh in June 1967 as part of the twentieth Aldeburgh Festival, and followed the disastrous reception of Walton’s first opera, Troilus and Cressida, a piece seen as too traditional for the taste of those austere post-war times. So second time round Walton was taking no chances: everything in The Bear is on a modest scale: a chamber opera in one act, for three singers only, no chorus, and the orchestra is chambersized, with a small number of strings (originally solo players). Not only did this specific recording bring the piece to fame but it also proved a revelatory disc for the soloists, Della Jones, Alan Opie, and John Shirley- Quirk, who would go on to become multi-award-winning soloists and whose achievements in British music would become increasingly successful.

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Chandos - up to 40% off

Chandos Classics - The Hickox Legacy - CHAN10947X

(CD)

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Delius: Mass of Life & Idyll

Delius: Mass of Life & Idyll


Delius:

A Mass of Life

Janice Watson (soprano), Catherine Wyn-Rogers (mezzo-soprano), Andrew Kennedy (tenor), Alan Opie (baritone)

The Bach Choir

Prelude & Idyll

Janice Watson (soprano) & Alan Opie (baritone)


Bournemouth Symphony, David Hill

Long an admirer of Nietzsches poetry, Frederick Delius composed A Mass of Life while at the height of his powers, blending passages from Also Sprach Zarathustra into orchestral textures of great expressive depth and striking beauty. Written in his final years, the Prelude and Idyll sourced music from a long discarded opera, transforming a story of lust and vengeance into one which emphasizes the transience of life and love. David Hills previous BSO recordings include a perfectly judged Dies natalis by Gerald Finzi (The Guardian on 8570417), while his Vaughan Williams Sancta Civitas (8572424) was described as thrilling a great case for a neglected work (Classic FM).

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“The singing is suitably majestic for Nietzsche's vision of mankind's destiny...Hill draws some marvellously expressive playing from the BSO, with soloists – chief among them Alan Opie – in magnificent form.” The Observer, 27th May 2012

“Alan Opie, who has the lion's share of the solo music in the work, is almost Wotan-like in his performances...Andrew Kennedy, Catherine Wyn-Rogers and Janice Watson also offer fine lyrical interpretations of their solo parts...This is a must for any Delius Liebhaber and...a marvellous starting point for anyone new to Delius's unique but compelling art.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2012

“Even if you already have those discs, the excellent line-up of vocal and orchestral forces in this new one is well worth investigating, the Bach Choir on fine form and the four soloists sounding thoroughly immersed in their roles...Hill maintains the inner momentum and points up the essential poetry of the piece.” The Telegraph, 7th June 2012 *****

“David Hill's impressive new recording with his Bach Choir (in the original German) boasts confident, ardent choral singing and orchestral playing, and a string solo team - even if Alan Opie, representing the prophet Zarathustra, perhaps makes his points with too much Wagnerian declamation at the expense of line....But listeners tempted by Naxos's bargain price into exploring this work won't be disappointed.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2012 ****

“splendid modern sound, a thrilling choir and orchestra, and, in David Hill, a conductor no less devoted to Delius than his more celebrated predecessor [Beecham]. His soloists are outstanding: Janice Watson, Catherine Wyn-Rogers and Andrew Kennedy sing with clarity and radiance, but the star is Alan Opie, whose lyrical singing is wonderful.” Sunday Times, 10th June 2012

“Even I, congenitally allergic to Delius’s music and Nietzsche’s writing, can scarce forbear to cheer this stunning recording...it certainly celebrates life, especially in this thrilling performance by the Bach Choir, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and quality soloists” The Times, 16th June 2012 *****

“fresh, finely nuanced singing.” Financial Times, 23rd June 2012

“It's a tribute to David Hill and his musicians and technical team that this rolling wave of joy is exceptionally well caught.” MusicWeb International, August 2012

“Hill draws some magnificent playing from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and has a top-class quartet of soloists, most notably baritone Alan Opie (who has the lion’s share of the solo music in the work) who delivers a lyrical and radiant account. The chorus parts are notoriously hard but the members of the Bach Choir rise to the challenges superbly and help produce a really thrilling performance.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 16th July 2012

Presto Disc of the Week

16th July 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - July 2012

Naxos - 8572861-62

(CD - 2 discs)

$16.75

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Vaughan Williams: Serenade to Music

Vaughan Williams: Serenade to Music

and other works


Vaughan Williams:

Serenade to Music

Elizabeth Connell (soprano), Amanda Roocroft (soprano), John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Martyn Hill (tenor), Maldwyn Davies (tenor), Anne Dawson (soprano), Linda Kitchen (soprano), Alan Opie (baritone), Gwynne Howell (bass), Sir Thomas Allen (baritone), Sarah Walker (mezzo-soprano), Catherine Wyn-Rogers (mezzo-soprano) & John Connell (bass)

Five Mystical Songs

Sir Thomas Allen (baritone)

Fantasia on Christmas Carols

Sir Thomas Allen (baritone)

Flos Campi

Nobuko Imai (viola)


“Performances like these don’t come along very often; each one is an absolute winner, and with rich, atmospheric recording quality the satisfaction is of a very special quality” CD Review

“Strongly recommended!” Fanfare

“Profoundly moving” Gramophone Magazine

“Sometimes heard as a full choral work, the Serenade to Music takes on its greatest beauty in its original version for sixteen soloists. Matthew Best's soloists are certainly up to the task here, with some big names in the ranks and a sound that beautifully sits between choral and soloistic singing styles. Thomas Allen is a moving and believable soloist in the Five Mystical Songs; after just a few bars of the first number, Easter, I was convinced.” David Smith, Presto Classical, June 2014

Hyperion 30th Anniversary - CDA30025

(CD)

$10.00

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Maw, N: Sophie’s Choice

Maw, N: Sophie’s Choice

Recorded live at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, on 21st December 2002.


Angelika Kirchschlager (Sophie), Dale Duesing (Narrator), Rod Gilfry (Nathan), Gordon Gietz (Stingo), Adrian Clarke (Librarian), Frances McCafferty (Yetta Zimmerman), Stafford Dean (Zbigniew Bieganski), Stephanie Friede (Wanda), Abigail Browne (Eva), Billy Clerkin (Jan), Gillian Knight (Old woman on train), Neil Gillespie (Young man on train), Jorma Silvasti (Rudolph Franz Höss), Alan Opie (Doctor), Darren Jeffery (Bartender), Quentin Hayes (Larry Landau)

Royal Opera Chorus & Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Simon Rattle (conductor) & Trevor Nunn (stage director)

In 2002, Nicholas Maw’s opera Sophie’s Choice, based on the novel by William Styron, was given its premiere at the Royal Opera House. The subject had struck Maw when he had first watched the film several years previously, and he immediately felt it would be ‘the most extraordinary basis for an opera’. Commissioned by the Royal Opera House and BBC Radio 3, Maw embarked on an adaptation of Styron’s book, which took six years to complete. Conducted by Simon Rattle, a long-term enthusiast of Nicholas Maw’s music, and with a wonderful cast led by Angelika Kirchschlager, Rod Gilfry, Dale Duesing and Gordon Gietz, the work won international acclaim and was later restaged in Washington, Berlin and Vienna. The Royal Opera House celebrates the work of this British composer, who died in 2009, with the release on DVD of the BBC transmission, as broadcast live in December 2002.

“…the central performances of Angelika Kirschlager and Rodney Gilfry as doomed lovers Sophie and Nathan were deemed to be among the most committed and convincing ever seen at the Royal Opera House.” The Independent

Extra features:

Illustrated synopsis.

Cast gallery.

Interview with Simon Rattle.

Running time 223 mins

Region code All regions

Picture format 16:9 Anamorphic

Sound format 2.0 & 5.0 PCM

Menu language EN

Subtitles EN/FR/DE/ES/IT/NL

“It's a tribute to the competence and stamina of the cast...that they all survive the ordeal by camera so well...as Maw's last major work it merits the kind of serious attention which this admirable and timely release makes possible” Gramophone Magazine, May 2010

“Angelika Kirchschlager's mobile-featured Sophie wins our deepest sympathy and even puts Meryl Streep's screen performances out of mind...Rattle gets all the line and bite the work needs” BBC Music Magazine, May 2010 ****

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

Up to 70% off Opus Arte

Opus Arte Royal Opera House Collection - OA1024D

(DVD Video - 2 discs)

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Weill: The Seven Deadly Sins & Kleine Dreigroschenmusik

Weill: The Seven Deadly Sins & Kleine Dreigroschenmusik


Weill, K:

The Seven Deadly Sins

Julia Migenes (soprano), Robert Tear (tenor), Stuart Kale (tenor), Alan Opie (baritone), Roderick Kennedy (bass)

Kleine Dreigroschenmusik


Presto CD

Sony - MK44529

(Presto CD)

$14.50

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Britten: Canticles I-V, etc.

Britten:

Canticles I-V

Let the dreadful engines of eternal will

Purcell realization

In the black dismal dungeon of despair, Z190

Purcell realization

Evening hymn, Z193

Purcell realization


Anthony Rolfe Johnson (tenor), Roger Vignoles (piano), Michael Chance (countertenor), Alan Opie (baritone), Sioned Williams (harp) & Michael Thompson (horn)

‘Rolfe Johnson is in superb voice … this disc is an outstanding example of his artistry’ (Gramophone)

Helios - CDH55244

(CD)

$9.50

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Vaughan Williams: Hugh the Drover

Vaughan Williams: Hugh the Drover

(a romantic ballet opera)


Rebecca Evans, Bonaventura Bottone, Sarah Walker, Richard Van Allan, Alan Opie, Neil Jenkins

Corydon Singers & Orchestra, The New London Children's Choir, Matthew Best

Hyperion Dyads - CDD22049

(CD - 2 discs)

$14.50

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Walton: Troilus and Cressida

Walton: Troilus and Cressida

(complete opera, original version with the role of Cressida for soprano)


Clive Bayley (Calkas), James Thornton (Antenor), Arthur Davies (Troilus), Nigel Robson (Pandarus), Judith Howarth (Cressida), Yvonne Howard (Evadne), David Owen-Lewis (Horaste), Alan Opie (Diomede)

Opera North Chorus, English Northern Philharmonia, Richard Hickox

“Troilus and Cressida is here powerfully presented as an opera for the central repertory, traditional in its red-blooded treatment of a big classical subject. Few operas since Puccini's have such a rich store of instantly memorable tunes as this. Walton wrote the piece in the wake of the first great operatic success of his rival, Benjamin Britten. What more natural than for Walton, by this time no longer an enfantterrible of British music but an Establishment figure, to turn his back on operas devoted like Britten's to offbeat subjects and to go back to an older tradition using a classical love story, based on Chaucer (not Shakespeare). Though he was praised for this by critics in 1954, he was quickly attacked for being old-fashioned. Even in the tautened version of the score offered for the 1976 Covent Garden revival – with the role of the heroine adapted for the mezzo voice of Dame Janet Baker – the piece was described by one critic as a dodo. Yet as Richard Hickox suggests, fashion after 40 years matters little, and the success of the Opera North production in January 1995 indicated that at last the time had come for a big, warmly Romantic, sharply dramatic work to be appreciated on its own terms.
This recording was made under studio conditions during the run of the opera in Leeds. The discs confirm what the live performances suggested, that Walton's tautening of the score, coupled with a restoration of the original soprano register for Cressida, proved entirely successful.
Hickox conducts a performance that's magnetic from beginning to end. The scene is atmospherically set in Act 1 by the chorus, initially off-stage, but then with the incisive Opera North chorus snapping out thrilling cries of 'We are accurs'd!'.
The first soloist one hears is the High Priest, Calkas, Cressida's father, about to defect to the Greeks, and the role is superbly taken by the firm, dark-toned Clive Bayley. Troilus's entry and his declaration of love for Cressida bring Waltonian sensuousness and the first statements of the soaring Cressida theme. Arthur Davies isn't afraid of using his head voice for pianissimos, so contrasting the more dramatically with the big outbursts and his ringing top notes. This is a young-sounding hero, Italianate of tone. Similarly, Judith Howarth's Cressida is quite girlish, and she brings out the vulnerability of the character along with sweetness and warmth. After Calkas has defected to the Greeks, her cry of 'He has deserted us and Troy!' conveys genuine fear, with her will undermined.
All told, although some fine music has been cut, the tautened version is far more effective both musically and dramatically, with no longueurs.
The role of Diomede, Cressida's Greek suitor, can seem one-dimensional, but Alan Opie in one of his finest performances on record sharpens the focus, making him a genuine threat, with the element of nobility fully allowed. As Antenor, James Thornton sings strongly but is less steady than the others, while Yvonne Howard is superb in the mezzo role of Evadne, Cressida's treacherous servant and confidante. Not just the chorus but the orchestra of Opera North respond with fervour.
Naturally and idiomatically they observe the Waltonian rubato and the lifting of jazzily syncopated rhythms which Hickox as a dedicated Waltonian instils, echoing the composer's own example. As for the recorded sound, the bloom of the acoustic enhances the score, helped by the wide dynamic range.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

Summer Opera Sale

Chandos - CHAN9370

(CD - 2 discs)

Normally: $28.25

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Britten: Gloriana

Britten: Gloriana

English National Opera, London Coliseum 1984


Sarah Walker (Elizabeth I), Anthony Rolfe Johnson (Essex), Jean Rigby (Lady Essex), Richard van Allan (Raleigh), Elizabeth Vaughan (Lady Rich), Alan Opie (Cecil), Neil Howlett (Mountjoy), Malcolm Donnelly (Henry Cuffe)

English National Opera Chorus and Orchestra, Mark Elder (conductor) & Colin Graham (director)

Sound Format: PCM Stereo

Picture Format: 4:3 | Original Language: GB

Subtitles: GB, DE, FR, ES | Running Time: 147 mins

Resolution: 1080i High Definition (Upscale)

Blu-ray Disc 25 GB (Single Layer) | FSK: 0

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

Summer Opera Sale

Arthaus Musik Legendary Performances - 109152

(Blu-ray)

Normally: $17.00

Special: $13.60

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Britten: Gloriana

Britten: Gloriana

English National Opera, London Coliseum 1984


Sarah Walker (Elizabeth I), Anthony Rolfe Johnson (Essex), Jean Rigby (Lady Essex), Richard van Allan (Raleigh), Elizabeth Vaughan (Lady Rich), Alan Opie (Cecil), Neil Howlett (Mountjoy), Malcolm Donnelly (Henry Cuffe)

English National Opera Chorus and Orchestra, Mark Elder (conductor) & Colin Graham (director)

Sound Format: PCM Stereo

Picture Format: 4:3 | Original Language: GB

Subtitles: GB, DE, FR, ES

Running Time: 147 mins

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

Summer Opera Sale

Arthaus Musik Legendary Performances - 109151

(DVD Video)

Normally: $17.00

Special: $13.60

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days.

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