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Rossini: Il Barbiere Di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) [December 16, 1950] Live, Original recording remastered

3.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Live, Original recording remastered, January 25, 2011
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  • Rossini: Il Barbiere Di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) [December 16, 1950]
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Editorial Reviews

Available on CD for the first time, this live recording of the December 16, 1950 radio broadcast is newly remastered from the original sources. Soprano Lily Pons sings the role of Rosina, with the young tenor Giuseppe di Stefano as Count Almaviva and baritone Giuseppe Valdengo as Figaro. Alberto Erede conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, with a cast that includes Salvatore Baccaloni (Don Bartolo) and Jerome Hines (Don Basilio).

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. Overture
  2. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. Piano, pianissimo
  3. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. Ecco ridente in ciel
  4. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. Ehi, Fiorello? - Mio signore!
  5. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. Largo al factotum della città
  6. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. Ah, ah! che bella vita!
  7. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. Se il mio nome saper voi bramate - L'amoroso e sincero
  8. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. All'idea di quel metallo
  9. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. Numero quindici a mano manca
  10. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. Una voce poco fa
  11. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. Sì, sì, la vincerò!
  12. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. La calunnia
  13. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. Ah! che ne dite? - Ma bravi!
  14. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. Dunque io son
  15. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. Ora mi sento
  16. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. A un dottor della mia sorte

Disc: 2

  1. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. Finora in questa camera - Ehi, di casa!
  2. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. Eccolo qua, eccolo qua - Ah, venisse il caro oggetto
  3. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. Che cosa accadde
  4. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. Fredda ed immobile
  5. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 2. Ma vedi il mio destino - Pace e gioia sia con voi
  6. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 2. In somma, mio signore, chi è lei
  7. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 2. Mother dear, I say to thee
  8. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 2. Bella voce! - Quando mi sei vicina
  9. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 2. Don Basilio!
  10. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 2. Buona sera, mio signore
  11. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 2. Sempre gridi - Il vecchiotto cerca moglie
  12. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 2. Temporale
  13. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 2. Zitti, zitti, piano, piano - Ah, disgraziati noi!
  14. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 2. Di sì felice innesto


Product Details

  • Performer: The Metropolitan Opera Chorus, Lily Pons, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Giuseppe Valdengo, Salvatore Baccaloni, et al.
  • Orchestra: The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
  • Conductor: Alberto Erede
  • Composer: Gioachino Rossini
  • Audio CD (January 25, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Live, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Sony Masterworks
  • ASIN: B004ECFWAS
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,665 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Verified Purchase
This historic 1950 live Metropolitan Opera performance of "Il barbiere di Siviglia" is an interesting addition to the opera catalog. But its inclusion in the first four releases of Sony and the Met's historic recordings series is a little puzzling. Where the other three are certified great performances, this one is more like a snapshot of the Met on a good but routine day in the mid 20th century. Pons was one of the most beloved and glamorous opera stars of her time and this recording captures her in one of her signature roles with all of the charm and personality that made her a fixture at the Met for over two decades. But vocally it also finds her late in her career, alternating between flashes of her celebrated coloratura technique and some rather effortful singing.

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.
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I find it hard to believe that with all the many fabulous MET broadcasts available to be released,they would release this quite awful Barber. I have always been a fan of Lily Pons, but by this date her singing was no longer what it had been. I have had this performance on LP and used to think Ms. Pons variations in the lesson scene verging on hysterically funny. Aspirates, lunging at pitches(often missed)and flat high notes do not denote a golden age. Charm, she still had, but this is not a performance to remember her by.
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.
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We will NEVER hear Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia performed as such in our lifetimes... NEVER! While there is much to lament in this performance... the corrupt orchestral parts (trombone, timpani, harp, etc.) and every cut in the book... there is also much to cherish.

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.
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THE BARBER OF SEVILLE / IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA is one of the greatest comic operas ever written. When it opened in Rome nearly 200 years ago (February 20, 1816), it was loudly booed by an audience packed by Rossini's rival composers. Fortunately, its brilliance was recognized when it was performed in other cities, and Beethoven himself declared it a masterpiece of its kind.

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).
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Rossini: Il Barbiere Di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) [December 16, 1950]
This item: Rossini: Il Barbiere Di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) [December 16, 1950]
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