Although Gardelli recorded this opera as part of the Early Verdi series for Philips, Domingo and Deutekom were the less satisfactory principals rather than the perfect partnership here of Carreras and Sass in their prime. Sass recorded it again with Gardelli for Hungaroton and it is a very recommendable set but no tenor approaches the young Carreras for the beauty and passion of his performance in this live recording. This 1976 live recording from Covent Garden is a bit muddy and suffers intermittently from the usual inconsiderate coughers but is otherwise in very listenable sound for a live performance of 35 years ago. Sass was one of the most compelling, dramatic and exciting singers in Verdi despite the occasional clumsiness and Carreras brings a special plangency to his Oronte. I am still awaiting a reissue of his very early (first?) recital record conducted by Roberto Benzi on which he sings a wonderfully pliant and fresh "La mia letizia infondere" but we have it here too. The supporting cast is fine and Gardelli is obviously the master of the situation, securing alert and flexible playing from the ROH orchestra.
This set often becomes available used more cheaply than the current Marketplace places if you keep looking for it; I wouldn't pay too much for it given the moderately indifferent sound quality but I wanted it as I have a special attachment to both the main singers here and to this old tub-thumper of an opera. The French revision "Jérusalem" is artistically superior, more logical and more integrated as a work but audiences have proved loyal to the original, Italian version, absurdities and inconsistencies notwithstanding.
on February 19, 1999
Not only does this landmark 1976 live performance boast fine sound quality, it features Carreras and Sass in top form, which is something of a revelation. Plenty of rousing choruses and melodic magnificence, with the leads often soaring above.
on September 23, 2001
This brilliant 1976 performance has surprisingly clear and loud sound givemn it's a pirate recording. It was a thrilling night at the opera, marking the London debut of Hungarian soprano Sylvia Sass, who was the Maria Callas of the 1970s. Exciting singing by all, and the audience can't get enough. Also wonderful is the duet from Ballo, one of the most competitive, heartfelt performances of Verdi's greatest duet.