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  • Previn - A Streetcar Named Desire / Fleming, Futral, Gilfry, Griffey, SF Opera, Previn
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Previn - A Streetcar Named Desire / Fleming, Futral, Gilfry, Griffey, SF Opera, Previn Box set

18 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, December 22, 1998
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$37.73
$16.95 $7.18
$37.73 & FREE Shipping. Details Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Previn - A Streetcar Named Desire / Fleming, Futral, Gilfry, Griffey, SF Opera, Previn + STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE A     VOCAL SCORE
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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This Deutsche Grammophon recording stems from San Francisco Opera's 1998 premiere production of André Previn's opera based on the harrowing Tennessee Williams play, with the composer himself at the helm of a strong and supportive cast. Previn's eclectic style embraces rather than challenges operatic conventions. He evokes Williams's New Orleans setting through loping, jazz-tinged motives and wistful, asymmetrical commentaries from solo winds and brass. By contrast, Previn reveals the protagonists' sense of longing and alienation by way of lyrical set pieces scored with lush economy. Philip Littell's libretto emerges at a leisurely gait, while the music underscores and follows the action with dramatic restraint instead of leaping center stage. Similarly, the cast's Southern accents are distinct but never distracting. Renée Fleming handles Blanche's taxing tessitura with effortless aplomb, although she sacrifices diction for tone in her middle register. Elisabeth Futral's light, agile soprano suits Stella's vulnerability to a fare-thee-well, while Rodney Gilfrey is careful to a fault in not letting Stanley Kowalski lapse into caricature. Most valuable player award, however, goes to Anthony Dean Griffey, who infuses Blanche's wooer Mitch with immense dignity and a sense of need. Stage noises and between-numbers applause may enhance the recording's sense of occasion, but they distract as much as those few niggling instances of thin string tone and shaky intonation. That's why God invented studio patching sessions. Still, Streetcar proves a solid achievement overall, priced at three discs for two, with full texts and annotations. --Jed Distler

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
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Product Details

  • Performer: André Previn, Renée Fleming, Elizabeth Futral, Orchestra of the San Francisco Opera, Rodney Gilfry, et al.
  • Audio CD (December 22, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B00000G3XH
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,333 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By An Historian on February 20, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Those who reject opera since Turandot are not the best people to judge new works! Previn's entry into opera only makes me regret he did not come to the genre sooner. STREETCAR is a gripping, powerful work with an intelligently adapted libretto and a brilliantly effective score. The performances of singers and orchestra in this recording of the world-premiere are uniformly outstanding. Renee Fleming -- for whom the part of Blanche was specifically written -- stands out for her stunning voice and strong dramatic instincts, but Gilfrey, Futral and Griffey are each outstanding in their respective roles.
Previn stands with Harbison, Bolcom and others as (I hope) the vanguard of a new wave of strong modern operas. Previn's score is grounded in traditional music (no John Cage absurdities of silence, noise, pointless repetitions, etc., all those self-consciously 'artistic' foolishnesses that have ruined so much modern art) yet he pushes the boundaries of tonality in interesting and exciting ways, integrating a New Orleans setting of Jazz without letting it dominate his classical treatment of his score.
This is opera evolving from twentieth-century masters such as Britten and Barber. If you like them, you certainly should like this.
Also consider the DVD of this same performance! (Though the CD includes a libretto, and the DVD does not include subtitles; as in any sung performance, you sometimes miss some of the words, though the singers' diction is very good.)
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Gallegos on May 31, 2003
Format: Audio CD
First I must say that Renee Fleming renders a marvelously complex Blanche. Brava! Now down to business: While reading the other reviews posted here, I've noticed that much criticism stems from the fact that this is an adaptation of a play which didn't need improving. From my point of view, this work is not "Tennessee Williams set to music." It is an entirely different piece, using his words as a backbone, but leaving behind some ideas and highlighting in bold relief other concepts. Opera is rarely as subtle in its characterizations as legitimate theatre. Certain key elements of drama and character are retained for operatic adaptations because it is nearly impossible to musically portray the full complexity and nuance present in the spoken (and unabridged) word. Among the composers to attempt to convey through music the myriad emotions that may cross a stage actors face is Wagner, whose music is incredibly intense and rich but notoriously dense and difficult. Essentially, don't expect to see or hear a play set to music. Previn has created his own Streetcar here, and it shines in its own light.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By eureka treasures on September 16, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Streetcar Named Desire is the most operatic of plays and one of my all-time favorite plays. I think it would make a terrific opera. But unfortunately this isn't it. Andre Previn's previous Musical Theatre works include several lackluster shows: Coco and Good Companions. They were both moderately agreeable but plainly derivative and neither one of them was successful.

I was hoping Streetcar would prove an exception. But for me it only confirms the shallowness of Previn's musical imagination. Once again we get a pale imitation of other people's work. This opera sounds like a rip off of Carlisle Floyd's Susannah--- accompanied by some phony, cliched 1950's jazz soundtrack music. This was the general consensus among critics when the show debuted and I concur.

Oh sure, there are some effective moments like Stella's bedroom music, Mitch's big aria and the finale--- but where is the real passion and beautiful melody this story cries out for? Renee Fleming is in splendid form as a singer but I am sorry... I just don't see Blanche Du Bois as a loud mouthed belter. For God's sake, she's supposed to be a fragile creature who has been crushed by the brutality of the world. If this is not made explicit, then all the pathos disappears and the power of this great work is lost. I'm afraid Fleming's Blanche is far too robust to be seen as fragile. Her acting skills are simply not strong enough to convince me that she is teetering on the twilight edge of reality. Fleming's Blanche seems like a cheesy hustler trying to con Mitch into marrying her.

Leonard Bernstein might have been able to create a masterpiece with this material but I'm afraid Previn is out of his league. He has all the right ambitions, but after watching and listening to this I have to agree with the majority of the original reviewers that he will never be known as anything but an "also-ran."
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 14, 1999
Format: Audio CD
The PBS telecast of Streetcar was excrutiating to watch, plodding and dull. But, when I spent some time with this recording, I was delighted by the beauty of the voices and the lovely if not profound music. Then, again, how often is opera profound? It may well be that this work will suffer on stage because it requires better actors than the singers can be or better singers than the appropriate actors can be. The music is fine. And, this recording is very sensuous. Worth a listen if not a look.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William S. Oser on August 24, 2014
Format: Audio CD
I have been giving these discs another spin, I listened once when purchased and not since. I am on an American Opera binge, having just purchased three that I do not have. My issue here is that the opera is not very good, partially because Streetcar Named Desire did not need to be made into an opera, the play already plays like one with its heightened emotions and the dramaturgy of Tennessee Williams. There are no memorable arias or duets. Compare this to The Ballad of Baby Doe where the soprano has 6 arias, at least 5 of which are worth excerpting while Tabor and Augusta have 2 each.
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