Elizabeth Futral

Soprano

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Ricky Ian Gordon: 27

Ricky Ian Gordon: 27


Elizabeth Futral, Stephanie Blythe, Theo Lebow, Tobias Greenhalgh, Daniel Brevik

St. Louis Symphony, Michael Christie

Albany - TROY1549/50

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Colors of Feelings

Colors of Feelings

Philip Lasser—Nicolette et Aucassin & other song cycles


Lasser:

In Colors of Feelings

Les Visages de l’Amour

Nicolette et Aucassin


Margo Garrett (piano), Susanna Phillips (soprano), Elizabeth Futral (soprano) & Michael York (narrator)

Thus mused distinguished American composer and Juilliard faculty member Philip Lasser, by way of introduction to these world premiere recordings of three lovely and evocative cycles for voice(s) and piano. In Colors of Feelings offers vivid settings of four moving poems by handicapped Tennessean writer Wynelle Ann Carson, who died tragically young. Les Visages de l’Amour treats six varied poetic visions of love by four remarkable French-language poets (including Lasser himself). Nicolette et Aucassin is a fascinating, one-of-a-kind synthesis of ancient and modern for two sopranos and narrator that was inspired by a Medieval French “Chantefable” (sung fable). The original anonymous manuscript contains both the story and the melodies upon which the composer’s music is based.

The album presents rare and remarkable collaborations between composer and performers. Soprano par excellence Susanna Phillips – who both introduced the composer to Carson’s poetry and commissioned the work – performs In Colors of Feelings most beautifully. Vaunted soprano Elizabeth Futral brings Les Visages de l’Amour to vibrant musical life. Both singers’ lovely voices intertwine irresistibly in Nicolette et Aucassin. Pianist extraordinaire Margo Garrett – who originally commissioned the final cycle – provides deft and sensitive instrumental collaboration in all three works. Distinguished actor Michael York provides stirring narrations.

Delos - DE3428

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Don Giovanni (Juan): A Film by Kasper Holten

Don Giovanni (Juan): A Film by Kasper Holten


Mozart:

Don Giovanni, K527

Sung in English (translation by Kasper Holten and Mogens Rukov)


Christopher Maltman (Giovanni, aka Juan), Mikhail Petrenko (Leporello), Maria Bengtsson (Anna), Elizabeth Futral (Elvira), Katija Dragojevic (Zerlina), Peter Lodahl (Ottavio), Ludwig Bengtson Lindström (Masetto), Eric Halfvarson (Commendatore)

Concerto Copenhagen, Lars Ulrik Mortensen (conductor) & Kasper Holten (director)

A truly unique filmed version of Mozart’s famous opera - an intense, vibrant and energetic take on a timeless drama, shot on location in Budapest, Hungary.

Every scene and every single detail has been adapted so that it fully exploits the film media’s great power to create emotional presence, making use of the full visual vocabulary of modern cinema, following such unorthodox inspirational sources as The Bourne Trilogy and Traffic, while at the same time maintaining the exceptional live experience of opera, since the actors really sing on set.

Juan is a famous artist and notorious playboy, thanks to his ability to become just what any woman dreams of. He turns his own life into a megalomanic work of art, playing the game of seduction like no other, driven by a manic restlessness that pushes him forward through an endless stream of conquests, betrayals, sex and eventually murder, with death lurking as the only possible outcome.

A portrayal of male sexuality in the 21st century, taken to the extreme, DON GIOVANNI reveals how the blessing of an endless appetite for life and a will to conquer the world, might in reality turn out to be the path to ruthless destruction and eventually self-destruction.

Audio: Dolby Stereo & Optional 5.1

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Feature Running Time: 102 mins

Region: 2, PAL

Contains sex and nudity

“here are sex and violence, speeding cars, and plenty of rough language. Maltman himself supplied the translation, which fits the updated setting supremely well but won’t appeal to maiden aunts...Holten has created a film that treats the opera with the respectful kind of disrespect that leaves the work’s core intact. And the performances are mostly riveting...Go on, be brave, give this adventurous Giovanni a whirl.” The Times, 29th September 2012 ****

“a pacey (if slightly cheesy) drama complete with sexy escapades, a car chase, and hospital scenes...Funnily enough, it all sort of works. This is partly because the singers are not only musically good, they can also carry the close scrutiny of the camera lens...Holten gives a lucid account of his motivations for the film in the 'Extras' section.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2012 ****

“Holten trades too knowingly, at times, on the narrative disparities between the opera and his film. But this is much more erotic than many stagings of the piece, and by the end we really do understand the nature of Juan's unsettling sexual hold...That's ultimately due to Maltman's charismatic artistry and Holten's filming of it, both of which are sensational.” The Guardian, 13th December 2012 ****

“The well-chosen cast, led by Maltman's assured, sexy Juan, truly look and sound great...But perhaps the ultimate achievement of the Roal Opera House's Kasper Holten in his first feature film...is to make an 'opera film' that really doesn't look like singers standing around a street in costumer wondering why they're not in a theatre. Even if you're phobic about 'modern' productions, give this a go.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013

“It’s all rather ingenious, and will no doubt launch a thousand undergraduate musicology essays...There’s a lot to admire in the technical achievement the film represents, and, as an exploration of the possibilities of opera as film, it’s undoubtedly fascinating; but it is so, one feels, precisely because it demonstrates the limits of that hybrid genre.” Opera, December 2012

Presto Disc of the Week

10th September 2012

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Format: PAL

Axiom Films - AXM644

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Previn: Brief Encounter

Previn: Brief Encounter


Elizabeth Futral (Laura Jesson), Nathan Gunn (Alec Harvey), Kim Josephson (Fred Jesson)

Houston Grand Opera Orchestra, Patrick Summers

The lengthy list of André Previn’s talents includes composition. Brief Encounter, his second opera, is a compassionate, exquisitely touching study of emotional infidelity. This release was recorded live at the opera’s world premiere in 2009.

Based on the screenplay by Noël Coward (that became a memorable film directed by David Lean and starring Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson), Brief Encounter stars Elizabeth Futral and Nathan Gunn as lovers whose innate morality makes their rapturous gratitude for one another excruciating, since they are already wed to others. Kim Josephson is moving as Laura’s bewildered husband; Patrick Summers conducts with his customary intelligence.

The Wall Street Journal wrote: “Mr. Previn’s lush, tonal score supplies a new dimension to this tale, giving a voice to the yearnings of Laura, the ordinary woman who is suddenly catapulted into extraordinary feelings”.

Previn turns 82 on April 6, 2011. Brief Encounter’s release on Deutsche Grammophon’s iconic 20/21 series is the label’s birthday salute to this uncommon musician.

“Previn doesn’t achieve pastiche Rachmaninov, but the older composer’s ghost is audible in the opera, along with little twists of Bernstein and Hollywood scores of the 1940s. The score is neither showy nor outstandingly imaginative; but then, the same is true of Coward’s characters. Captured on CD, this intimate piece proves fascinating, largely enjoyable, and eventually touching.” The Times, 22nd April 2011 ***

“Elizabeth Futral and Nathan Gunn sing lustily in Celia Johnson’s and Trevor Howard’s roles.” The Telegraph, 5th May 2011

“here are plenty of echoes of Samuel Barber – both Knoxville and Vanessa come to mind. He mercifully avoids referring to Rachmaninov, though the melodic contours of the principal love theme are reminiscent of its counterpart in Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet...The performance...is conducted with considerable flair by Patrick Summers, while Nathan Gunn and Elizabeth Futral are superb as the sorrowing lovers.” The Guardian, 12th May 2011 **

“[Previn] deploys his orchestral forces with considerable tact. The music is lyrical, romantically bittersweet and often luxurious, but it's rarely overpowering...Still, Previn's Laura and Alec are more able to express their emotions than Coward's originals were...Futral is a virtuoso singer with a gorgeous tone...but she never shows off, maintaining a strong sense of Laura's repressed and self-critical character...warmly recommended to those interested in contemporary but accessible opera.” International Record Review, July 2011

“both appealing and frequently impressive...Somewhere between Puccini and Britten at their most intimate, it isn't wildly original, but it's entirely listenable...Elizabeth Futral's clear but well-shaded soprano suits Laura's quietly anguished lyricism, while baritone Nathan Gunn, a younger, less world-weary Alec than Trevor Howard, projects sturdy charm throughout an almost tenorial range.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2011 ****

“The opera's grand dimensions and intimate manner are a challenge for anyone playing the lead characters...Futral achieves a degree of emotional specificity that makes her one of the best singing actresses around. Nathan Gunn matches her with a baritone that scales down to practically nothing - important in a love story in which the man is the needier of the two.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2011

“This is a commendably sober, faithful retelling. Previn’s defiantly tonal score sounds exactly as you’d imagine it would – an amalgam of all the composers who he’s remembered for conducting well...Previn’s vocal writing is gracious, the orchestra is handled brilliantly, and Caird’s text is unfussy and elegant. This is an opera which it’s very hard to dislike, and it’s easy to imagine a good production packing a powerful emotional punch.” Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk, 26th June 2011

DG 20/21 - 4779351

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Argento: Evensong - Of Love and Angels

Argento: Evensong - Of Love and Angels


Samuel Lloyd III (narrator), Elizabeth Futral (soprano), Nelson James LePard Reed (treble)

Washington National Cathedral Choir, Washington National Cathedral Chamber Orchestra, J. Reilly Lewis

Gothic - G-49269

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Bach: Solo Cantatas

Bach: Solo Cantatas


Elizabeth Futral

Washington Bach Consort, J. Reilly Lewis

Lyrichord Early Music Series - LEMS8069

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Paulus: To Be Certain of the Dawn

Paulus: To Be Certain of the Dawn

Oratorio for cantor, soloists, children’s chorus, mixed chorus and orchestra


Barry Abelson (cantor), Elizabeth Futral (soprano), Christina Baldwin (mezzo-soprano), John Tessier (tenor) & Philip Cokorinos (bass-baritone)

Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Chorale, Minnesota Boychoir, The Basilica Cathedral Choir & The Cathedral Choristers, Osmo Vänskä

This oratorio, To Be Certain of the Dawn, was commissioned by the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis as a gift to the Jewish community to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the freeing of Holocaust survivors and as an important lesson that the prevention of future genocide is in the hands of today’s children. In creating the work, the composer and librettist have emphasized the victimization of innocent children, with a children’s choir playing an important part in the score. This aspect was further emphasised at the first performance in 2005 by the projection of photographs from 1935-1938 of Jewish children living in cities and villages in Eastern Europe.

The highly moving work, which raises eternal questions regarding humanity, tolerance and respect, became a labour of love from Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra, as well as the other musicians involved in the first performance, many of whom also participated in the present recording. The oratorio has subsequently been performed by student forces in the USA who have taken it around the world.

Stephen Paulus, a prolific Minnesota-based composer, has received commissions from orchestras and institutions such as the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Washington Opera and Los Angeles Master Chorale. His close collaboration with librettist Michael Dennis Browne on To be Certain of the Dawn is a continuation of a creative partnership of long standing which has also produced, among other works, the operas The Village Singer, Harmoonia and The Three Hermits. Paulus “often finds melodic patterns that are fresh and familiar at the same time. ... His scoring is invariably expert and exceptionally imaginative in textures and use of instruments.” The New York Times on a different recording.

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BIS - BISCD1726

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Weisgall: Six Characters in Search of an Author

Weisgall: Six Characters in Search of an Author


Robert Orth (The Father), Elizabeth Byrne (The Stepdaughter), Nancy Maultsby (The Mother), Gary Lehman (The Son), Victor Rooney (The Boy), Jenna Heffernan (The Child), Paula LoVerne (Madame Pace), Andrew Schroeder (The Accompanist), Philip Zawisza (The Stage Manager), Joslyn King (The Mezzo), Bruce Fowler (The Tenore Buffo), Susan Foster (The Prompter), Michael Wadsworth (The Basso Cantante), Kevin Anderson (The Director), Dianne Pritchett (The Wardrobe Mistress), Elizabeth Futral (The Coloratura)

New World - NW80454

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A Verdi Gala from Berlin

A Verdi Gala from Berlin


Strauss, J, II:

Maskenfest-Quadrille, Op. 92

Verdi:

Volta la terrea (from Un Ballo in Maschera)

Signori, oggi d'Ulrica (from Un Ballo in Maschera)

Seguietemi...Ve', se di notte (from Un Ballo in Maschera)

Saper vorreste (from Un Ballo in Maschera)

Que de fleurs et que d'étoiles (from Don Carlos)

Questa o quella (from Rigoletto)

La donna è mobile (from Rigoletto)

Libiamo, ne' lieti calici (from La Traviata)

È strano! è strano!...Ah! fors è lui...Sempre libera (from La Traviata)

Alice…Meg…Nannetta (from Falstaff)

Quando ero paggio (from Falstaff)


Recorded live at the Philharmonie, Berlin, 30–31 December 2000

“Vargas is a vocally appealing Duke of Mantua...On the evidence of this concert Abbado has plenty of thoughts on and insights into his great compatriot’s music...The playing of the Berlin Philharmonic is of the highest standard and their luxuriant sound is well caught.” MusicWeb International, November 2006

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Region: 0

Format: NTSC

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EuroArts - 2050858

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Mozart, The Supreme Decorator

Mozart, The Supreme Decorator


Bach, J C:

Cara, la dolce fiamma (from Adriano in Siria)

decorations by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Diana Montague, Elizabeth Futral & Majella Cullagh

Infelice in van m'affanno (from La Clemenza di Scipione)

Elizabeth Futral

Deh, quel pianto omai tergete (from La Clemenza di Scipione)

Elizabeth Futral & Majella Cullagh

Mozart:

Alcandro, lo confesso - Non so d'onde viene, K294

decorations by the composer

Majella Cullagh & Elizabeth Futral

Voi che sapete (from Le nozze di Figaro)

decorations by Domenico Corri

Diana Montague

Martern aller Arten (from Die Entführung aus dem Serail)

Elizabeth Futral

Ah se a morir mi chiama (from Lucio Silla)

decorations by the composer

Diana Montague & Majella Cullagh

Ah perdona al primo affetto (from La Clemenza di Tito)

Elizabeth Futral & Diana Montague


An explanation of the glorious music you will hear on this disc is given by Sir Charles Mackerras in the booklet that accompanies the CD.

"As we approach the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth, I feel that it is appropriate to look into two aspects of Mozart’s composition which are not usually commented on but which actually give us new insight into the way this great composer’s mind worked. The first will show Mozart ornamenting his own vocal music in order to teach a young singer (with whom he was in love), how he could heighten the expressiveness or the brilliance of an aria by the judicious addition of extra notes, effects and cadenzas. The other aspect of Mozart, which will be shown on this CD, is that of Mozart the Borrower. He was often inspired by another composer’s work and determined to write a composition in similar style. In doing so, he often transformed a quite pleasant and charming original into pure gold, so that it became a work of genius. Mozart particularly admired the music of his somewhat senior contemporary, Johann Christian Bach. In this recording we will show how Mozart’s borrowings from J.C. Bach were turned into some of his most divine inspirations"

Sir Charles Mackerras with his gifted singers Majella Cullagh, Diana Montague and Elizabeth Futral give us the rare opportunity to hear Mozart’s thoughts on decoration.

“Each aria is presented first in its unadorned form, and then in a more intricate version that Mozart tailor-made for the talents of the young soprano Aloysia Weber at the time he was courting her. No less fascinating are the items demonstrating Mozart's borrowings from JC Bach. Mackerras conducts stylishly.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2005 *****

“As Mackerras convincingly demonstrates, the bravura aria from JC Bach's La clemenza di Scipione - in effect a sinfonia concertante for voice and instruments - was the blueprint for Konstanze's 'Martern aller Arten' in Die Entführung. Futral sings both numbers with spirit and technical aplomb. After this riot of virtuosity the duet 'Ah, perdona' from La clemenza di Tito, tenderly sung by Futral and Montague, makes an envoi of serene beauty. The Hanover Band play crisply and stylishly under Mackerras's alert direction.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2005

Opera Rara Artist Collections - ORR232

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