Die Agyptische Helena (Strauss) (Botstein;  Deborah Voigt, Carl Tanner, Celina Shafer, Eric Cutler) (2-Telarc 80605)
Item# OP0174
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Die Agyptische Helena (Strauss) (Botstein;  Deborah Voigt, Carl Tanner, Celina Shafer, Eric Cutler) (2-Telarc 80605)
OP0174. DIE AGYPTISCHE HELENA, Live Performance, 18 Jan., 1998, Philharmonic Hall, New York, w.Botstein Cond. American S.O.; Deborah Voigt, Carl Tanner, Celina Shafer, Eric Cutler, etc. 2-Telarc 80605, Slipcase Edition w.Elaborate Libretto-Brochure. Out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 089408060526


"This opera is a bear to cast. HELENA was written for Maria Jeritza, and calls for a dramatic soprano of immense radiance. Deborah Voigt pretty much sweeps the competition, which includes Rysanek, Jones (twice), and Binstrubyte. Her voice is silvery, in Strauss’ preferred manner, but it is also enormous—allowing her to ride the orchestra at will. She is also a gifted actress, and her resources of charm come fully into play. That this is a one-off performance is even more remarkable. Virtually the only complaint is at some awkward transitioning into her bottom register, something that is minor in any case, and completely forgivable in the context of a live performance. Menelas is probably the most sheerly murderous tenor role that Strauss ever wrote. Longer than Bacchus, the Kaiser, or Apollo, the role keeps the tenor spending much of his time singing flat out against the vast orchestra. Carl Tanner is very good, and were he more consistently on mike, he would be even better. He is heavily taxed by the strenuous writing for what seems to have been Strauss’ least favorite voice type, but he acquits himself well, some slightly gritty tones at the bottom aside. Failing Ben Heppner taking him on, this is probably the best Menelas we are likely to hear. Celena Shafer brings more weight to Aithra than most—the coloratura, somewhat similar to the requirements of DiE FRAU’s Kaiserin, usually tempts casting the part on the light side. Shafer’s voice is not quite different enough from Voigt’s, but hers is a lovely performance, always dramatically alive and—some scrambling aside—very well sung. Jill Grove, listed as a mezzo, brings a contralto’s richness to Mussel’s pronouncements. She is appropriately distant—she was in a third tier box at the performance—but recorded with sufficient immediacy that you never lose her. Eric Cutler’s lyrically oriented tenor contrasts well with Tanner, and he has the power to ride the climaxes of the ardent, doomed Da-ud. The orchestra is recorded with great presence, the voices somewhat inconsistently. The recording comes with interesting notes, and the libretto is in three languages. This is now the recording of choice, one not to be missed by the lovers of the byways of late Strauss.”

- John Story, FANFARE