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Samuel Ramey - A Date with the Devil

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Audio CD, July 16, 2002
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Samuel Ramey - A Date with the Devil + Samuel Ramey - Operatic Arias (American Artistry)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

It's curious that Samuel Ramey has made such a specialty of diabolical roles, because his voice--although pure bass--has never had the jet-black timbre of a John Tomlinson or the threatening muscular attack of a Bryn Terfel. Indeed, it seems most comfortable in lighter repertory: Rossini, Mozart, anything that calls for grace and flexibility. But he has learned to slip a note of menace into the most elegantly well-turned phrase. His devils are urbane, sophisticated: evil in a suit and tie. And for the past six years, he's turned a rather chic collection of them into a recital program that has toured the world. This CD was recorded en route in Munich (it preserves an isolated fragment of audience applause, presumably to let you know). And here they all are: the Berlioz, Gounod, and Boito takes on Faust, together with Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable, Stravinsky's Rake, and (stretching the definition of operatic devilry) Offenbach's Dapertutto (Les Contes d'Hoffmann). This recording was made when Ramey was approaching 59 and starting to show his age. The voice is graying at the edges and is sometimes noticeably thin of texture, with a vibrato that rocks the poise of his slower, more lyrical numbers. But there's still plenty of life in the singing and an energy that never loses focus or coarsens into bluster. For that alone, he's still worth hearing. --Michael White

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

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

Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Marche de Rakoczi (Hungarian March)Samuel Ramey 4:50$0.89  Buy MP3 
listen  2. La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Une puce gentilleSamuel Ramey 2:58$0.89  Buy MP3 
listen  3. La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Devant la maisonSamuel Ramey 2:46$0.89  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Robert le diable (Robert the Devil): Robert le diable (Robert the Devil): Nonnes qui reposezSamuel Ramey 4:10$0.89  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Mephisto Waltz: Two Episodes from Lenau's - Mephisto WaltzJulius Rudel11:40Album Only
listen  6. Mefistofele : Ave SignorSamuel Ramey 4:33$0.89  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Mefistofele : Son lo Spirito che hega sempre tuttoSamuel Ramey 4:41$0.89  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Mefistofele : Ecco il mondoSamuel Ramey 3:00$0.89  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Les contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann): Les Contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffman): Scintille, diamant!Samuel Ramey 4:20$0.89  Buy MP3 
listen10. Faust: Le veau d'or est toujours debout!Samuel Ramey 2:23$0.89  Buy MP3 
listen11. Faust: Vous qui faites l'endormie ('Serenade')Samuel Ramey 3:23$0.89  Buy MP3 
listen12. The Rake's Progress: I was never saner.Samuel Ramey 4:19$0.89  Buy MP3 
listen13. The Rake's Progress: I burn! I freeze!Samuel Ramey 1:52$0.89  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Performer: Samuel Ramey
  • Orchestra: Munchner Rundfunk Orchester
  • Conductor: Julius Rudel
  • Composer: Jacques Offenbach, Hector Berlioz, Arrigo Boito, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Charles Gounod, et al.
  • Audio CD (July 16, 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • Run Time: 58 minutes
  • ASIN: B0000682W0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,420 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By John bloggs on May 31, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Samuel Ramey is unique in the recorded history of opera. He is a bass- a true bass at that- with an intoxicatingly beautiful and resonant voice, possessing a phenomenal techniique with which he is able to lift his voice far above the limitations imposed on it by nature. He has sung Scarpia, one of the most demanding baritone roles in the italian repetoire- convincingly, and with an ease and elegance that any verdian baritone would envy. In fact, for a comparable technique among lower voices, one would have to go back to the great "virtuoso" basses of the early-middle of the 19th century such as tamburini, supposedly the greatest vocal genius among all operatic basses. No recordings exist of this extinct breed of singers who could challenge the castrati in the practise of florid singing and bel canto, but there are many detailed descriptions of their performances, vocal sound, and technique; as well as musical transcriptions of exactly what they sung.

Samuel Ramey is undoubtdedly such a singer. His combination of warmth, elegance, and sheer technical brilliance are unmatched among all basses in the history of recorded opera. His style has occasionaly been labelled as bland, pehaps by people who want to hear Chaliapin instead. But as great as the Russian bass was, Ramey posseses an altogether different mentality and represents a different method of schooling- indeed so unique among our time is his style that it is not difficult to understand why people sometimes don't "identify" with his characterisations. We all have ideas of how a certain piece should be performed after all.

By way of comparison, Giuseppe DeLuca was one of the great singers in the early years of the last century.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rudy Avila on November 9, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This recording finds the world famous bass Samuel Ramey at age 59, singing a collection of the "bass villain" repertory he gained fame for interpreting. His voice has darkened considerably and shows signs of aging, but still delivers. On this disc: Berlioz's operatic oratorio "La Damnation de Faust" is another account of the Goethe tale of Faust. Charles Gounod's opera is the more famous account. Samuel Ramey's pure bass voice was tailor-made for the role of the Devil. "Un Puce Gentile" is a more lyrical aria while "Devant La Maison" in which the Devil calls his spirits to bewitch Marguerite, is a coloratura, lively aria. Samuel Ramey once again sigs a Devil in the Meyerbeer grand opera Robert Le Diable, a masterpiece in its time but now an opera that has long fallen on the wayside. His French diction is superb, and his bel canto voice (and it is a bel canto voice) sounds golden, full, dark and rich. It is actually a good thing that he is 59 and singing roles that sound old, sinister and lecherous. Devils are normally regarded as old creatures and somehow Samuel Ramey makes them sound seductive and even beautiful to hear. He has a healing quality to his voice. Take for instance the dramatic-lyric Italian manner in which he sings Ecco Il Mondo from Arrigo Boito's Mefistofele. Mefistofele is a grand vehicle for the bass in the role of the Devil but again this opera was more popular in the old days. George London sang Mefistofele opposite Renata Tebaldi in an old 50's recording and that one is the best interpretation of them all, with grand Italian opera taking on flights of fancy. There is also another fine recording with Norman Treigle of the New York City Opera (he was Ramey's mentor) back in the 60's.Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By vmzfla on May 1, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Most of the previous reviewers are either lamenting Sam Ramey's decline or hailing him as a legend. Let's dwell on the inovative program NAXOS has given us. Many new to this music can use this disc as an introduction to the complete works. Some will only care to have it and go no further. The live concert takes done in a three day span are competently played and warmly recorded. Did anyone mention that Liszt's "Mephisto Waltz"(orchestral version)is included? Most other recordings include alot of duplicate repetoire. Though made at the twilight of his career(Rec. Oct. 2000, age 59), Mr. Ramey dose his devilish best to bring the whole thing off. After all these years he has made these roles special in a cool collective style. The informative program notes will guide you through. Add a star if your a die hard Ramey fan or if your inspired to run out and buy the complete sets.
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Samuel Ramey - A Date with the Devil
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