The Album Review Club - Week #37 (page 425) - Rusalka

threespires

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For me, the challenge with opera is you have to invest a bit more time and effort to get something from it than most other forms of music. For the little opera I’ve listened to I find what works for me is enough knowledge of the libretto and/or having ideally seen it so that I know where I am and what’s going on when I’m listening.

Didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to listen to this so only a cursory review,
  • Full of lovely melodies.
  • Another vote for the Song to the Moon aria, very beautiful.
  • As people have also said some beautiful orchestration throughout.
  • I found myself falling off a bit during act 2.
  • Didn’t find it as immediate as some of the more famous operas I’m a bit more familiar with but felt that with a few more listens I could get into it more.
Finally, because I am childish I was also very happy to discover that:
  • the Czech for Abracadabra is Cury Mury Fuk
  • even If you are a world class opera singer you cannot not sing that phrase without sounding northern.
I am quite likely to return to this at some point when I have some time and am in the mood. So thanks for expanding my horizons @KnaresboroughBlue

Giving it 6/10
 

OB1

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Taking it one game at a time
I'm another person who has never had any interest in opera and don't expect that will ever change.

I can cope with a bit of Bismillah and Figaro or Nessun Dorma but that is very much the exception.

I am not well up on classical music but I like orchestral music albeit I mainly listen to film soundtracks on that score.

Operatic singing basically ruins the music behind it from my perspective.

I did make it all the way through Rulaska and didn't wimp out with just the highlights. Couldn't really tell you if it is good opera but it fit my general expectaions.

Given that it's obviously not rubbish but ain't my musical tipple, I'll give it a 5. (If it had been rock or pop, it would be getting a 2 based on how much I liked it).
 

BlueHammer85

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First time I’ve ever given Opera a real listen - and must admit after a while I found it quiet relaxing - for me though Opera is really for watching on stage and admire the orchestra and singer in all its glory - it’s such a different genre from what I’m used too that it’s tough to even briefly review/score

‘Song to the Moon’ is definitely the stand out - some beautiful moments and a lovely melody, Act 1 is nice also.

I can see how this appeals for so many and I’m envious in a way

4/10
 

journolud

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Ah Dvorak, probably my favourite composer. Oh, opera, not necessarily my least favourite form of music, there's plenty of others to take that prize but not something I actively seek out. I remember my mum used to play opera music when we were little. I used to hate it but then I hated it when the oldies put the news on then as well. I still hate the news but for totally different reasons now but I will voluntarily put it on.

I've given this a fair few listens, at slowly increasing volumes to increase the impact and get as close to the "live" experience as possible. And some of it I find very stirring. No mistaking it's Dvorak (please don't for a minute imagine I'm some classical music expert who can name every composer by style but I can often have a good guess. One of the residents in the nursing home I work at often has classic FM on while I'm doing nurse things and I pride myself on trying to recognise the piece/ composer that is playing and have a decent success rate. Mind you classic FM seems to have a fairly limited playlist radio 1 style and certainly don't seem to play much opera). I digress

I struggle to get on with the singing. I've been listening to @KnaresboroughBlue recommendation for which recording. I prefer her to him but when she "goes for it" I just want her to stop. It's all too much. Case in point Song to the Moon, undeniably that is nice, more than nice but then she goes and soils it all by getting overwrought. Case in point 2 Slavnosti, the first of Act 2. What a great track that is and almost singer free but he snuck on at the end. It made me want to go back and explore the Slavonic Dances in more depth, a very popular Dvorak piece that I'm less familiar with.

It's a while since I've been to the Bridgewater and I used to like a seat that gave me a look down at the Orchestra so I could "see" how the music was put together. I suspect that if I took the plunge I might get something out of an opera and there's no denying the dramatic heft it can give an episode of Morse or Endeavour. Ultimately though...

I've no baseline to say how this particular recording ranks with others or how this particular opera compares to others. I can't fault it technically though. I have heard recordings of Beethoven symphonies for example which to my ears have no heft and by chance the other day I wanted to listen to Albinoni's Adagio, a bit of a cliche I know but what a track. Anyway the version I chose on Spotify was neutered, how could they do that?

How to score this. There's a few sixes which, no disrespect to anyone, have maybe come from the same point of ignorance as me and play it safe. This isn't going to turn me into an opera fan but when the singing is more muted and the music shines it really does shine and I could imagine it as a decent accompaniment to household chores, or to get me in the zone for solving some pretty grisly or complicated murder mystery. It's a brave choice as always by @KnaresboroughBlue I'm also going to give it what I hope is a reasonably educated and thoughtful 6
 

KnaresboroughBlue

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I struggle to get on with the singing. I've been listening to @KnaresboroughBlue recommendation for which recording. I prefer her to him but when she "goes for it" I just want her to stop. It's all too much.

I'm not a huge Fleming fan myself (despite recognising her talent) but it was really the only option for the shortened version. My favourite is probably Milada Šubrtová or Gabriela Beňačková but they have the advantage of it being their native tongue (or near enough in Beňačková's case):






It made me want to go back and explore the Slavonic Dances in more depth, a very popular Dvorak piece that I'm less familiar with.
My favourite work of Dvořák's.
 

Saddleworth2

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I like opera. Not to sit down and listen to an opera all the way through at home. I like highlights which show the excellence of the music and singing and listen to Essential compilations quite often. It is my favourite genre of music when you want something to calm you and I used to play a lot of opera on my homeward bound commute.
I have also gone to live performances and enjoyed them thoroughly albeit they have all been Mozart operas and I love his work. So I haven’t listened to this nomination all the way through as it doesn’t appear on the streaming service I use. I have sampled it on Spotify and I can recognise the music as Dvorak which is good because he one of my favourite composers. The tale of a water sprite who falls in love with a human feels very Tolkien and indeed he, like Dvorak sourced material from folk tales. I liked Song to the Moon and some of the orchestral work was very moving.
Very difficult for me to score. I didn’t find it as accessible as Mozart or Bizet but that is to be expected as I have 60 odd years of familiarity with some of their stuff. I will give it a 7 because @KnaresboroughBlue always nominates engaging and interesting music and what I hear of this is rather gorgeous. It will take me weeks to become familiar with it though.
 

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