OP0384. GLORIANA (Britten), w.Mackerras Cond. Welsh National Opera Ensemble; Josephine Barstow, Philip Langridge, Della Jones, Jonathan Summers, Yvonne Kenny, Alan Opie, Richard van Allan, Bryn Terfel, Willard White, John Shirley-Quirk, John Mark Ainsley, etc. (Germany) 2-Argo 440 213, Slipcase Edition w. Elaborate Libretto-Brochure. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 028944021325
“Finally we have an audio recording of GLORIANA, the last of Benjamin Britten's stage works to be recorded. Commissioned to honor the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, the Opera gives us an unsparingly realistic look at the relationship between the aging Queen Elizabeth I and the Earl of Essex. Britten's music defines the complex emotional world of the Elizabethan court with extraordinary success, vividly setting the queen's inner conflict (love vs. duty) against the pomp of her public scenes.
GLORIANA earned Britten mostly dismissive reviews at its premiere, a critical reaction that seems astonishingly myopic today, given its salient richness as music drama. Charles Mackerras, a long and faithful advocate of the Opera, shapes an utterly persuasive account, and his cast could hardly have been better chosen. Josephine Barstow's strong, vibrant tones and alert response to the text give her portrayal of the queen psychological depth. With strongly defined performances in every role, this stands as one of the year's most important operatic releases.”
- John von Rhein, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 17 Oct., 1993
“Charles Mackerras, an Australian conductor who played a crucial role in establishing Janacek’s operas in the West, made important discoveries about vocal ornamentation in Mozart operas and was an elegant conductor of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas and Mozart, Mendelssohn and Brahms symphonies, was known for performances that were revelatory not only because of their clarity and precision, their astutely judged balances and their consideration of period style, but also because they invariably sounded so deeply felt. He seemed to have an unerring instinct for the right string weights and inflections in Classical and early Romantic works, the right ornaments in Baroque music and the right sense of earthy realism in contemporary scores.
But his choices were informed by more than instinct. Having grown up hearing Handel, for example, in the fleshed-out re-orchestrations that were common in the 1930s, he made a point of seeking out the original scores and tailoring his own performances to contours that Handel would have found more familiar. An encounter with early performing materials from Mozart operas, which had florid embellishments written into the vocal parts, made him reconsider how Mozart should be performed. Both those realizations came before detailed research into period style was commonplace, and they occurred early enough in Mr. Mackerras’s career to win him considerable attention.
His teacher there was the eminent conductor Vaclav Talich, and it was while watching Talich prepare a performance of Janacek’s KATYA KABANOVA that Mr. Mackerras found himself ‘completely and utterly bowled over’, he said in a 2009 interview with OPERA BRITANNIA. Mr. Mackerras gave the British premiere of KATYA KABANOVA at Sadler’s Wells in 1951 and helped bring the rest of the composer’s operas to Western houses, where they are now firmly established. He also made a renowned set of Janacek recordings for Decca. For his Covent Garden debut, in 1964, he led Shostakovich’s KATARINA ISMAILOVA. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut leading Gluck’s ORFEO ED EURIDICE in 1972
‘If I am to be remembered for anything’, he said, ‘then it will probably be for Janacek. Nobody needed me to say that Mozart, Haydn and Handel were great composers, even if I managed to show things in their music that may not have been heard before, whereas Janacek had nobody to speak for him’.”
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 16 July, 2010