Rossini: Il Barbiere Di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) [December 16, 1950] Live, Original recording remastered
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This is definitely old-fashioned Rossini performance style from the pre-scholarly era, but the leads, particularly Valdengo and Baccaloni, are masters of Italian comic opera style and timing. The most engaging quality of this performance is the witty interplay of this well-routined ensemble cast. Their joy in performing make this delightful even today. Worth noting too is the chance to hear the very young tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano. Heard here, he is not yet quite the the artist he would soon become, but his uniquely lovely tenor voice is heard in all its freshness before too many heavy roles dulled its exquisite sheen.
Sony and the Met offer this recording in excellent restored sound in a stylish budget-package at a very reasonable price. Not the greatest "Barbiere" ever, for sure, but a valuable document of a moment in the history of the Met.
DiStefano certainly had at this date, one of the most gorgeous instruments around, but a Rossini singer he wasnt. The lyric portions are lovely, but he couldnt even muster the facility for the most basic coloratura lines.His interpolated high C in the last act recetative thrilled the MET audiences but would have made Rossini turn over in his grave.
Valdengo is really the best performance here. A manly, bright voiced Figaro with a really nice Italianate color to the voice. Hes really very good. Hines sounds 100 years old, and Baccaloni does his usual schtick.
If you want a performance that is fun to listen to and no where NEAR Rossinis intention with some really sloppy singing( by the way,didnt anyone notice Pons sings an extra roulade at the end of the opera by mistake), this is for you. but its indicative of the loss of quality that Rudilf Bing strated to correct. Actually, Lily pons rarely sang in the Bing regime.
First, the Rosina of Lily Pons... we just don't hear the part performed as such nowadays. Of course Miss Pons ignores virtually all of Rossini's mezzo based writing and recomposes the part for a high coloratura soprano. Unfortunately this recording captures her a bit past her prime, but there remains enough to enjoy. (To listen to Pons in her absolute prime, the non-commercially available 1938 MET broadcast is the one to own.) Still, her "bell song like" interpretation of "Una voce poco fa" must be heard to be believed, concluding as it does with her patented long held F in alt... so enough said. Still, it reminds me of Rossini's quip to Adelina Patti after hearing her rendition of the aria... something to the effect, "A nice aria, who wrote it?" Furthermore, she replaces Rossini's original aria in the lesson scene with a dazzling rendition of Adolphe Adam's infamous "Twinkle twinkle little star" variations elaborated with a glittering flute accompanied cadenza... but before one complains it must be noted that Rossini being a man of the theatre realized that such substitutions would invariably be the case and made a notation in the score that such replacements would be acceptable. Now whether he realized that his opera would be still be performed in an era that would give some wild stylistic choices is another matter indeed.
The Figaro is baritone Giuseppe Valdegno and he sings the part to the manner born if with some "emendations" to the vocal line.Read more ›
This CD set was made from recordings of a "live" stage performance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on Dec. 16, 1950. It has a rather good cast of 60 years ago, led by tenor Giuseppe di Stefano in the role of Il conte d'Almaviva, with fine support from bass Jerome Hines as Basilio, baritone Giuseppe Valdengo as Figaro, and bass Salvatore Baccaloni as Bartolo. Coloratura soprano Lily Pons rounds out the main cast as Rosina, a role written for a contralto and normally sung by a mezzo.
Some good news is that, technically speaking, this CD set is a great improvement over the flawed, amateurish transfer of the same performance that was released several years ago by a company calling itself Cantus Classics: Die Klassische Alternative.
Since Giuseppe di Stefano and Lily Pons are the only cast members who are still widely known and whose work has been largely preserved on other CDs, most listeners will be pleased to learn that their tracks are in good condition.
For this review, I made side-by-side ratings of this set's di Stefano tracks with those of an Istituto Discografico Italiano CD set's tracks of him in the same opera, recorded in Mexico City nearly two and a half years earlier (July 1948).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Why all this negativity? No one ever said that Lily Pons was a great vocalist, she was, however, a consummate entertainer. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Joseph W. Giles
I can't believe the previous reviews! They all missed or almost missed the main point. Young Di Stefano is a god! I keep replaying his arias! The whole opera is wonderful. Read morePublished on August 15, 2013 by Galuppi lover
This CD was interesting, a) to hear DiStefano is his very early days singing the role of Count Almaviva, not the bel canto type of singing he did later in his career, b) to hear... Read morePublished on January 9, 2013 by DJF
As with the other issues to date in this collaboration between Sony Classical and the Metropolitan Opera, of vintage era Met performances, this one is not for newbies, but for... Read morePublished on July 4, 2011 by G.C.
The Metropolitan Opera has produced far superior performances of "Barbiere" than this, and it remains somewhat odd to me that Sony would select this particular performance. Read morePublished on April 8, 2011 by L. Mitnick
This is not the Barber we know from todays performances but a look into the past.
It's too much fun to dismiss and De Stefani too fabulous to ignore.
I believe M. Read more