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Boito - Mefistofele / Ramey · Marton · Domingo · Tedesco · Takács · Farkas · Pataki · Patané

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 18, 1991
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Editorial Reviews

1990

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Mefistofele: Prologue In Heaven - Preludio
  2. Mefistofele: Prologue In Heaven - 'Ave Signor' (Coro)
  3. Mefistofele: Prologue In Heaven - Scherzo instrumentale
  4. Mefistofele: Prologue In Heaven - 'Ave Signor' (Mefistofele)
  5. Mefistofele: Prologue In Heaven - 'T'e noto Faust?' (Coro, Mefistofele)
  6. Mefistofele: Prologue In Heaven - 'Siam nimbi volanti' (Coro, Mefistofele)
  7. Mefistofele: Prologue In Heaven - 'Salve Regina!' (Coro)
  8. Mefistofele: Act One - 'Perche di la?' (Coro)
  9. Mefistofele: Act One - 'Qua il bicchier!' (Coro)
  10. Mefistofele: Act One - 'Al soave raggiar' (Faust)
  11. Mefistofele: Act One - ' Movere a diporto' (Wagner, Coro)
  12. Mefistofele: Act One - 'Sediam sovra quel sasso' (Faust, Wagner, Coro)
  13. Mefistofele: Act One - 'Dai campi, dai prati' (Faust)
  14. Mefistofele: Act One - 'Ola! Chi urla?' (Faust, Mefistofele)
  15. Mefistofele: Act One - 'Son lo Spirito' (Mefistofele)
  16. Mefistofele: Act One - 'Strano figlio del Caos' (Faust, Mefistofele)
  17. Mefistofele: Act One - 'Se tu mi doni un'ora' (Faust, Mefistofele)
  18. Mefistofele: Act Two 'Cavaliero illustre e saggio' (Margherita, Faust, Mefistofele, Marta)
  19. Mefistofele: Act Two - 'Colma il tuo cor' (Faust, Margherita, Mefistofele, Marta)

Disc: 2

  1. Mefistofele: Act Two - 'Su, cammina' (Mefistofele, Coro)
  2. Mefistofele: Act Two - 'Folletto!' (Faust, Mefistofele)
  3. Mefistofele: Act Two - 'Ascolta. Si'agita il bosco' (Mefistofele, Coro)
  4. Mefistofele: Act Two - 'Largo, largo a Mefistofele' (Mefistofele, Coro)
  5. Mefistofele: Act Two - Danza di streghe - 'Popoli!' (Mefistofele, Coro)
  6. Mefistofele: Act Two - 'Ecco il mondo
  7. Mefistofele: Act Two - 'Riddiamo!' (Coro, Faust, Mefistofele)
  8. Mefistofele: Act Two - 'Ah! Su! Riddiamo' (Coro)
  9. Mefistofele: Act Three - 'L'altra notte in fondo' (Margherita, Faust, Mefistofele)
  10. Mefistofele: Act Three - 'Dio di pieta!' (Margherita, Faust)
  11. Mefistofele: Act Three - 'Lontano, lontano, lontano' (Margherita, Faust)
  12. Mefistofele: Act Three - 'Sorge il di!' (Mefistofele, Margherita, Faust)
  13. Mefistofele: Act Three - 'Spunta l'aurora pallida' (Margherita, Faust, Mefistofele)
  14. Mefistofele: Act Four - 'La luna immobile' (Elena, Pantalis, Faust)
  15. Mefistofele: Act Four - 'Ecco la notte del classico Sabba' (Mefistofele, Faust)
  16. Mefistofele: Act Four - Andantino danzante
  17. Mefistofele: Act Four - 'Ah! Trionfi ad Elena' (Coro, Elena)
  18. Mefistofele: Act Four - 'Chi Vien? O strana' (Coro)
  19. Mefistofele: Act Four - 'Forma ideal' (Faust, Elena, Mefistofele, Pantalis, Nereo, Coro)
  20. Mefistofele: Epilogue - 'Cammino, cammina' (Mefistofele, Faust)
  21. Mefistofele: Epilogue - 'Giunto sul passo estremo' (Faust, Mefistofele)
  22. Mefistofele: Epilogue - 'Ecco la nuova turba' (Faust, Mefistofele)
  23. Mefistofele: Epilogue - 'Vien! Io distendo questo mantel


Product Details

  • Performer: Arrigo Boito, Hungarian State Orchestra, Hungaroton Opera Chorus, Giuseppe Patané, Samuel Ramey, et al.
  • Audio CD (January 18, 1991)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B0000026QH
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,656 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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For those contemplating purchasing this CD a word of warning is due. No one in my opinion outdoes Samuel Ramey in sheer power and diabolical delight in singing Mefistofele. The same can be said for Placido Domingo as Faust and Eva Marton as Margarita. Although not well known outside of Hungary, the other women recorded here sing well and provide a good foil to Ramey and Domingo -- who are by far the stars and, at times, scene stealers. There are two major weaknesses with the recording. The first is Sergio Tedesco's performance as Wagner. He should have, unfortunately, retired two years before this recording. You can still hear traces of his wonderful voice but in his dialogue with Faust in Act 1 he loses control of several notes. I have been tempted more than once to fast forward through this section to avoid the horrible effect but it, fortunately, does not last long. The second weakness is the Hungarian State Orchestra. I have heard recent recordings of them and they have greatly improved. At this point in their history, however, their performance is frequently marred by poor intonation (note the trombone and french horn choir playing in sections of the prologue and an overzealous and out of tune piccolo at the closing of Salve Regina) and choppy and inconsistent lower brass playing. All in all, it is a magnificent performance, very exciting and well sung (with the exception noted). If you can overlook the few flaws, it is certainly worth a listen.
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The world of opera would certainly not be the same if Arrigo Boito chose a different career path. Boito played a significant role in the revision of Verdi's SIMON BOCANEGRA and wrote the libretti for OTELLO and FALSTAFF. Boito also wrote the libretto for Ponchielli's LA GIOCONDA. Obviously Boito knew what could work on stage as OTELLO and LA GIOCONDA's success proves, but as a composer, Boito was less successful. As a composer, was a "one hit wonder" with his opera MEFISTOFELE. The work is not widely performed, though some major opera companies do revive it from time to time.
The opera is based on the legend of Faust, and shares some characteristics of Gounod's FAUST but the story also has differences, specifically the inclusion of the Elena portion of the story. The score of the opera has beautiful and powerful moments, especially the choral pieces. In this recording, Samuel Ramey plays the role of Mefistofele, and he handles the role with power and tremendous vocal ability. There are moments of sheer beauty in his singing that gives his character a certain deceptive nature, which is in keeping with a being like the devil, but it can at times also have an eerie quality which is also appropriate. Both Placido Domingo and Eva Marton are excellent as Faust and Margherita/Elena respectively, but the real superstars of this recording are The Hungarian State Orchestra and the Hungarian Opera Chorus. Under the direction of Guiseppe Patane, the orchestra and chorus make this recording exceptional.
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Although it is supposedly a second-rate opera, Boito's "Mefistofele" has had a lot of successful recordings and holds its place in the hearts of operaphiles such as I alongside other quasi-neglected operas like "La gioconda" (for which Boito wrote the libretto under the pseudonym "Tobia Gorria"), "Andrea Chénier" and "Adriana Lecouvreur" - in other words good belters, often verismo in style which require really first rate voices of great amplitude and power.

However, the majority of recordings available are live and there is only a handful made in the studio. These go back to 1928 and the more celebrated 1931 La Scala one with Nazzareno De Angelis as Mefistofele and Giannina Arangi-Lombardi as Elena. I very much like the 1956 mono recording on Cetra with Giulio Neri and for many the 1958 stereo set with Siepi, Tebaldi and Del Monaco is the benchmark, but if you want modern sound the best options are the De Fabritiis from 1980-82 on Decca with Ghiaurov, Pavarotti and Freni or this from 1988, when all three principals were in finest voice; otherwise, there has been no subsequent studio recording and nothing much live to get excited about.

No matter, neither this nor the Decca set is disappointing. I am puzzled to read criticism elsewhere in another review of the brass of the Hungarian State Orchestra, who to me sound raucously splendid in that blockbuster opening scene with its massed angelic choir, the Hungaroton Opera Chorus singing with extraordinary gusto .I was also astonished at how idiomatically Italian the Nyireghyházi Boys' Choir sounds until I saw that the choir director was Piergiorgio Morandi. A serious blot which early becomes apparent is the aged, wobbly singing of Sergio Tedesco as Wagner.
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