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Verdi - Otello / Karajan, Vickers, Freni, Berlin Philharmonic
Verdi - Otello / Karajan, Vickers, Freni, Berlin Philharmonic
DVD ~ Jon Vickers
20 used & new from $10.53

30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MAGNIFICENT OTELLO AND SUPERLATIVE KARAJAN, January 28, 2003
Verdi's Otello is the finest tragic opera ever written. The genial poet Boito wrote a beautifully compressed libretto that inspired Verdi to compose intensely dramatic, dynamic and complex music for great arias, duets and choral singing. Otello' s triumph over the Turks "Esultate!", the sweet and ethereal duet between Otello and his bride Desdemona "Già nella notte densa", Jago's cynical view on life "Credo in un Dio crudel", the revengeful oath-taking duet "Sì, pel Ciel marmoreo giuro!", Otello's regret for lost happiness "Dio, mi potevi scagliare", the andante then frenetic pezzo concertato of acclaims "Viva! Evviva!" (Venetian dignitaries, heralds, soldiers, Ladies and Gentlemen) ingrained with brooding soliloquies and utterances "...Emilia, una gran nube turba il senno d"Otello..." (Lodovico, Otello, Desdemona, Emilia, Jago), Desdemona's soulful prayer "Ave Maria", Otello's dishevelled suicide "Niun mi tema" and last heroic whisper "un altro bacio", the opera ending with two soft but solemn orchestral bars.
On 5 February 1887 at the Teatro alla Scala, Milano, Verdi staged the world premiere of Otello after 16 years of silence. During that period, he reflected for a long time on his experience and the musical evolution of opera. He felt he had to conceive successfully something new to stay abreast of times. Otello was born. Boito became a decisive collaborator. He wrote the libretto "a struttura continua" which allowed the great master to break the old scheme of arias, duets, recitatives and develop a completely continuous discourse.
Jon Vickers - The great Canadian tenor was born in 1926 at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. After studying under George Lampert in Toronto, he made his debut in 1954 as the Duke of Mantua (Rigoletto) with the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto. During an illustrious career spanning over 28 years, he sang a variety of roles excelling in Beethoven's Fidelio as Florestan, the Wagnerians Siegmund, Parsifal and Tristan, the Italians Canio and Otello, the French Don José and the English Peter Grimes, in most of the major theatres of the world. His debut as Otello dates back to 1970 during the Salzburg Festival where he sang the role for the ensuing two years.
In this 1974 rendition of Otello, one senses Vickers' mastery of the role and profound identification with the character throughout. When called upon to put on show the arduous vocality of Otello, some mediocrity creeps in. "Esultate" is not in the Lauri-Volpi or Del Monaco's glorious Italian tradition, the key words "Vien" and "un bacio" in the ethereal, amorous duet "Già nella notte densa" are whispered although some redemption is restored with a well sustained mezza voce in "...Venere splende", the ferocious and solemn oath-taking duet with Jago is a bit disappointing at the end, where "Dio vendicator" is a surprisingly short and colourless squillo, "Dio, mi potevi scagliare" is good in the piano monotone but colourless in the squillo "...Oh, gioia!" but "Niun mi tema" is quite a remarkable fraseggio. His Italian diction is fair.
Mirella Freni - She belongs to the cream of Italian sopranos who made singing history from Storchio, Pandolfini, Favero, Pampanini, Olivero and recently to Scotto. Her Mimì was the most celebrated, perhaps the greatest of all Puccini's frail seamstresses. For vocal, expressive and scenic qualities, she became household name at Salzburg as Zerlina, Susanna, Elisabetta di Valois, last but not least Desdemona in the repertoire of the Austrian city' supreme son, Herbert von Karajan. Freni never performed better with any other conductor than with Karajan.
In this 1974 edition of Otello, her Desdemona is cajoled, inspired, advised, even pushed by Karajan to use colours, refinements and sfumature to which she was not used. Her amorous canto in the love duet, the passionate, pure-hearted and exhilarating lament "A terra...si...nel livido fango..." prostrate on the floor of the castle hall of ceremonies in front of the stupefied Venetian dignitaries, the meditative, sad recollections in the Willow song and soulful prayer "Ave Maria" in her bed chamber are striking proof of an exceptional voice-orchestra fusion.
Peter Glossop - A distinguished English baritone born in Sheffield and an excellent interpreter of the Italian Romantic Opera at Covent Garden and the major theatres of the world. His repertoire included Rigoletto, Count di Luna, Scarpia, Simon Boccanegra, Guy de Montfort (I Vespri Siciliani) and Jago. He had voice for sale, warm, expressive accents and great acting ability. His Rigoletto in particular was a voice of decades gone by.
In this 1974 edition of Otello, his Jago is almost unmatched. His scenic presence is imposing, gestures and facial expressions, supported by a good mezza voce, weave a diabolical cynicism of nearly Tito Gobbi's dimensions while his "Credo in un Dio crudel" crowns him as the Mephistophelean villain so much aspired by Verdi, who found the monologue "most beautiful and wholly Shakespearean!"
Herbert von Karajan - A native of Salzburg, he was only nineteen when he became permanent conductor at the Opera of Ulm in 1927, of Aquisgraine from 1935 to 1942, took the place of the great Wilhelm Furtwangler as conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker in 1954 and became the Salzburg Festival director in 1956. He conducted in Italy frequently by interpreting Wagner and Mozart but also the Italian masters' operas, including Lucia, Falstaff, Traviata, Boheme and Cavalleria rusticana. He interpreted Tosca in Berlin, Trovatore in Vienna and Don Carlos at Salzburg. He was admired for a vast symphonic and operatic repertoire, conducting authority, live, incisive and dramatic style, great plasticity and constant pursuit of sound, vocal and orchestral beauty.
In this 1974 edition of Otello, Karajan is the orchestra conductor, artistic and stage director. Known for his unsurpassable analytical ability, he leads the orchestra to a dismembering of each detail of the score with the best timbre possible. The tempi and sound of this Otello as interpreted and executed by Karajan are majestic, glorious, solemn, totally innovative and mesmerising.
The staging is outdoors and not on the theatre platform. It is confined, done exquisitely and gives the impression of a stage production despite that the act I tempest scene is real and shot on the screen. The picture quality is excellent. The sound is superb stereo. Beautifully illustrated, the booklet is in English, German and French, contains a synopsis of the opera, no libretto but a partition of each act into the salient arias, duets, ensembles each accompanied by a very informative sequence of the plot and corresponding DVD track number.


Verdi: IL Trovatore
Verdi: IL Trovatore
5 used & new from $11.99

5 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE CALLAS-LAURI VOLPI GLORIOUS CONNECTION....LIVE !!!!, February 19, 2002
This review is from: Verdi: IL Trovatore (Audio CD)
Whether you buy this historic live recording of Il Trovatore, the Verdian masterpiece, on the Pantheon or IDI label, the result is the same: a feast of bel canto and squilli (Lauri Volpi), masculine energy and cavernous notes (Elmo), lyricism and fiery acute notes (Callas), nobility and feline bursts (Silveri). Add to it a lively and fast-paced score conducted by Serafin at the San Carlo Opera House in the winter of 1951, in front of an audience warmed at first in Act I and gone berserk with enthusiasm at the end of Act III! This makes the difference between a pretty, faultless but inanimate studio recording and one taken live, which has atmosphere, glorious singing from the real stage and audience participation.
The orchestra sound is not hi-fi, far from it at times. However, the voices soar cleanly and radiantly above the orchestra. The inevitable coughs are all there but who cares! You could not care less if you were a diehard fan of CALLAS or LAURI VOLPI and lover of a live showstopper where dramatic phrasing abounds: "il figlio mio" (a desperate Azucena in Act I), "all'armi" (a heroic troubadour in Act III), "Manrico" (a dying Leonora in Act IV), and "orrore" (a mesmerised Count Di Luna in Act IV).
This historic, highly artistical recording is a treat for all fans of the divina Callas when she was 27 years of age, singing with ravishing, sure and youthful tones as I never heard her before. A treat also for all fans (including me) of Lauri Volpi, an unmatched Manrico, at 58 years of age, for pure mezza voce, bel canto and heroic top notes. His memorable "Pira" and famous squillo "All'armi", bringing the house down with enthusiasm, is difficult to describe unless you purchase the CD. In recalling the 1951 performance in Naples, Lauri Volpi, a highly cultured but forthright tenor (a Roman), commented: "The Neapolitans forever want a piece of liver or larynx before they can be moved"!
I took an intelligent gamble by purchasing this live performance of the Verdian masterpiece. Keep the CD play volume down, avoid surrounding effect, use bass adjustment, be patient with a few inevitable coughs and the cons will almost cease to be a nuisance. I played the CDs also on my laptop and I found the sound much more bearable. As I hoped, the gamble paid great dividends. It was an exhilarating and memorable night!
One of the most loved and known operas, Il Trovatore has a complex musical texture, setting endless traps to the singers. It calls for four voices of absolute strength, able to soar above a resounding score, kept by the conductor Serafin at a lively and urgent pace. All of them were: Callas, Lauri Volpi, Elmo and Silveri!
Hear, indomitable fans of the divina Callas! A splendid and ravishingly young Leonora on the photo (27 years of age at the time), smiling and holding hands with the legendary Lauri Volpi, the greatest Manrico ever to grace the stage and the most loved tenor in postwar Italy.
Callas' phenomenal "multiple" voice, lyrical, light and dramatic was at her youthful prime and flowed divinely in " Di tale amor" in Act I, to hit acute notes throughout "D'amor sull'ali rosee" in Act IV, with no trace of what detractors call the Callas wobble. Lauri Volpi, a fiery and agile Manrico, was at his poetic best and the crowd went buzzing at the troubadour song in Act I. His "Pira" and famous squillo "All'armi" in Act III were like a message sent to the moon!!! It brought the house down with wild shouts of "Bis, bis"! Elmo, the fatal gypsy Azucena, reflected the spirit of vengeance with masculine energy and cavernous notes. Shouts of "Brava, brava" accompanied her "Stride la vampa". Silveri, originally a bass turned baritone, the evil Count Di Luna, was vocally noble and resonant in "Il balen". What an assortment of powerful and frenetic ensemble in the finale of Act II!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 22, 2008 2:04 PM PDT


La Rondine
La Rondine
Offered by newbury_comics
Price: $39.36
43 used & new from $2.99

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A PRECIOUS GEM AND LE VILLI HIGHLIGHTS AS A BONUS, January 20, 2002
This review is from: La Rondine (Audio CD)
The two musically and vocally sumptuous CDs under review include the enchanting La Rondine, a mature Puccini' score, plus highlights of the tragic opera Le Villi, the composer's first opera. The recording offers a glorious trail of musical discovery to the listener because performance and recording of both operas are rare. Any list of lyrical opera masterpieces does not include either of them. How wrong can people be? It is the first time I heard both operas.
Puccini's publisher Tito Ricordi thought very little of La Rondine and dismissed it as bad Lehar. This opinion is sheer nonsense. La Rondine is a delightful, inspired musical composition in the typical expansive lyricism of the great master. The score evokes the artistic sense, delicate tastes, passionate refinements and French boudoirs of La Belle Époque in Europe (1900-1914). Make no mistakes. The unsurpassable lyrical style of Puccini is there: Heartfelt recitatives, tender phrases with bold colours, ample extensions, top notes of volume, power and timbre. The music is reminiscent of the effusive delicacy mixed with passion of Madama Butterfly.
Now to the plot concisely. Ruggero meets the courtesan Magda at a Parisian ball. Thinking that love has blossomed, they flee to the coast away from city vicissitudes. Ruggero utters "Dimmi che vuoi seguirmi alla mia casa" offering his beloved a life of family affection. Magda is an art- loving, modern charm woman and cannot renounce to her ambiguous circles. They part.
Roberto Alagna as Ruggero sings warm, lirico spinto notes without a French nasal but more with a Franco-Italian pulpy sound. He cannot claim entry yet into the "espada", a group of legendary tenors including Gillion, Escalais, Fleta, Lazaro and Lauri-Volpi. They emitted steel bladed top notes. Alagna is very convincing in the role, which portrays the naïve and immature young man from the provinces. Angela Gheorghiu as Magda sings with pure and soaring notes. She is beautiful, has long black hair and a ravishing scenic personality. She is very convincing as the charming courtesan.
The highlights of Le Villi are part of the second CD and a magnificent bonus. The prelude and two symphonic intermezzi are included. They are admirable pieces of orchestral invention and workmanship. In the first intermezzo, the Abandonment, the orchestra begins quietly, female voices join in, surges to passionate chords and dies away with the chorus' distant echo. In the second, the Witches' Sabbath, the orchestra pours forth an overflowing rush of sounds and extremely talented polyphonic mixtures with great clarity, as in all Puccini's music. "Torna ai felici di' dolente il mio pensier" the protagonist Roberto laments in sorrow on his return home. He had left, fallen for an adventuress and forgotten Anna, his first love. The sweet Anna waited in vain and died heartbroken at the coming of winter. Anna' spirit appears with those of other deserted maidens, Le Villi, and in revenge draws him to a fatal dance.
Alagna sings the aria with surprisingly passionate accents as the masochistic self-tormented Roberto (Le Villi). Alagna sounds distinctly and superbly Puccinian. The conductor Pappano's tempi are magnificent and throw both operas under a new light of incredible musical beauty (listen to the intermezzo, the Abandonment, of le Villi). More stupefying is his sense of opera as musical theatre. The expressive strength, the space he concedes to the singers, the sense of arioso and a sound explosion without limits fly to the listener's ears and heart. The CD sound is resounding and faultless.
The beautiful booklet contains photos of the principal singers, secondary roles, conductor and artistic scenes. The critical review and synopsis are in English. The libretto is in both English and Italian. The CDs track numbers are usefully bolded at the margins of the libretto. BUY AND LISTEN TO LA RONDINE AND LE VILLI ON THESE CDs. YOU WILL GET A STUPENDOUS, NOVEL EXPERIENCE AND DISCOVER MORE OF PUCCINI!


Otello
Otello
4 used & new from $38.82

4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars FAIR TO EXCELLENT SOLOISTS GLORIOUS CHORUS AND ORCHESTRA, December 23, 2001
This review is from: Otello (Audio CD)
The opera Otello is Verdi's true claim to immortality. There is little doubt that Wagner greatly influenced Verdi. He did it beneficially. The great German composer kept the Italian genius' personality and style intact and did not cause him to compose in servile imitation. He made Verdi pay attention to his musical drama. Verdi came to appreciate the fluid music texture of Lohengrin, Tannhauser and admire the Wagnerian infinite hero lost, like Siegfried, in the unknown of the forest.
However, Otello is a battle hardened general and a hero outside the Wagnerian circle of infinity and solitude. He is a dramatic hero with solid virility. To maintain his very nature, he is in search of a central voice with easy passage to silvery brilliant top notes to claim victory against the Turks, warm phrasing in the love duet, hysterical accents when Iago insinuates matrimonial betrayal and rage towards Desdemona in the presence of Venetian dignitaries.
In this CD under review, the tenor Giuseppe Giacomini is full of interpretive intentions but his voice is not appropriate to the role of Otello. The voice is large, not beautiful, well sustained at the top but completely bottled up in the throat, referred to as "voce ingolata" by Italian critics. The notes in the low and middle registers are acceptable. The top notes, which abound in Otello, become mere shouts. They have energy and volume but no timbre or color at all. Berlioz recalled that the art of singing had become that of the shout due to very large capacity of theatres. Giacomini, Bonisolli, Mauro, partly Cupido, Beccaria and Martinucci came out of this new school of singing. Giacomini's contribution "Gia' nella notte densa" to the famous love duet with Price, as Desdemona, has no ethereal quality. His "Si, pel ciel marmoreo giuro" in the thrilling oath-taking duet with Manuguerra, as Iago, is a tame affair. The last heroic whisper "...ah! un altro bacio" leaning over the lifeless Desdemona is almost mute and dramatically unconvincing.
Dame Margaret Price, the honored Welsh soprano and a fine interpreter of Mozart, shows that she is comfortable with Italian melodrama. With Janowitz, Troyanos, Lorengar, Gara, Donath and Mathis, she held high the ever-conquering colorist tradition of sopranos in the sixties. She loves Verdi, who offers her teasing opportunities to sing chiaroscuro, filature and sudden enlightenments in the role of the loyal and chaste Desdemona. She takes on the offer wholeheartedly. In this CD, her phrasing is multi-varied in colors and celestial in filature. All her intonations, as in "Dio ti giocondi" Act III, Scene II, are honeyed and her heartfelt singing is delightful throughout. Her "Son mesta tanto, tanto" and "Salce!Salce!Salce!" Act IV, Scene I, are plaintive and exquisite bel canto. The timbre is hot and lucent but the top notes are somewhat violent and often "opened".
Matteo Manuguerra is just a baritone no more or less. He takes on the difficult role of the perfidious, subtle and tragic Iago. Vocally, he is almost a copy of Tito Gobbi, a baritone of medium quality with a voice of limited volume and passable technique. Artistically, he tries to imitate Gobbi, who favored the parts of Posa, Rigoletto, Nabucco, Scarpia and Iago, allowing him to better unite the actor to the singer and give the character a more ample meaning. Manuguerra delineates his "Credo" fairly well with cruel, sage and final thunderous accents. Yet, the insidious phrasing "..in man di Cassio.." in the famous oath-taking duet Act II, Scene V, sounds a bit comical!
A well-rehearsed chorus supported by a high quality orchestra, comparable to the Berlin or Vienna Philharmonics, comes out with flying colors. The conductor is Alain Lombard, assistant to Karajan in Salzburg and Bernstein in New York, who keeps the orchestra under a vigorous and inspired baton. The sound from a studio recording of the opera is even more astounding. The inventive, fluid and complex orchestration of Otello comes out so vividly as I never heard it before. The purchase of this high fidelity CD is worth the price for sound alone. The book-note, enriched with photos of Verdi, the soloists, secondary roles, conductor, chorus, orchestra and artistic scenes, is informative. The opera synopsis is in Italian, French and German. The libretto in Italian only is included. Studio audience join in the applause at the end of each act and add a touch of enthusiasm to the stage performance.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 10, 2014 7:45 PM PDT


Luisa Miller Scala 1976
Luisa Miller Scala 1976
6 used & new from $31.48

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars INADEQUATE RODOLFO AND LUISA BUT A MAGNIFICENT MILLER, September 1, 2001
This review is from: Luisa Miller Scala 1976 (Audio CD)
Luisa Miller is among my favorite operas by Verdi. It is an opera with an ardent musical texture composed especially for the tenor. He has to display pure mezza voce, romantic temperament and fiery emotions. In "Quando le sere al placido chiaror", perhaps the most beautiful and certainly one of the most inspired arias composed by Verdi, the tenor has to offer rare and incisive accents.
Pavarotti never imposed himself in the Verdian repertory. In this CD recorded live in 1976 at La Scala, Milan, he does not possess the vocal qualities for the part of Rodolfo. He sings with a voluminous and easily extended voice but not romantic, warm and virile enough. For a tenor of his commercial fame, he "croons" with a dreadful mezza voce and resorts repeatedly to falsetto. The silvery brilliance of his voice (of the mid sixties) in the Duke of Mantua, Rodolfo (Boheme) and Romeo and Juliet, has gone inexorably away! Even the base colour and pulp show signs of evident wear. His characterisation of Rodolfo is a disaster! He is no Lauri Volpi, the legendary tenor who sang the premiere at the Met in 1929 with a cast that included Rosa Ponselle, Giuseppe De Luca and Tancredi Pasero!
Caballe', the great Catalan with Spanish blood in her veins, is reputed to be one of the bel canto voices of the XX century together with Toti Dal Monte, Callas, Sutherland and Gencer. In this CD, her voice is an all-enchanting falsetto. She sings deliciously but her top notes have a marked shrill and the dramatic role of Luisa does not suit her type of bel canto singing. The trouble with Caballe' is that she adapted the score of Luisa to her vocal means, forgetting the composer's musical intentions and orchestral necessities. In dealing with the score, she needed to exercise, study and frequent dress rehearsals: all of them, with humbleness, as the divina Callas used to do.
Cappuccilli, as Miller, Luisa's father, comes to the rescue vocally and as a magnificent Verdian character. The voice is all there: colour, extension, large capacity for particularly incisive phrasing and very mature, serious musicality. His forte is the squillo, endowed with a most notable resonance. His middle register shows charm and persuasive powers. Cappuccilli's voice is particularly suited to Verdian roles: Count di Luna, Iago, Giorgio Germont, Renato, Rigoletto, Don Carlo di Vargas and Amonasro. Last but not least that of Miller in the CD under review. He delighted me with a happy union of biting and, at the same time, painful accents.
The recorded sound is what you would expect from a 1976 live performance in an opera theatre such as La Scala of Milan, Italy. Poor arrangement of the microphones, close to the orchestra pit and theatre first rows with notable, fastidious coughs by the audience, distant from the stage whereby the voices sound bottled up, as if they were behind the stage curtains. The orchestra sound is reasonable, at times drowning the singer's top notes (particularly Rodolfo's in the final squillo). The conductor, the veteran Gavazzeni, has a firm hand but the pulse is slow at times. The unusual and famous duet between the two basses, Walter and Wurm, in Act II, Scene III, starts almost pianissimo (!). Walter's "O meco incolume sarai, lo giuro," is a frenetically ringing line but sung at a disappointingly slow orchestral accompaniment. The book-note is ordinary, uninformative and includes the libretto in well spelt Italian only. The track numbers are in bold characters and usefully appended to the lyrics.


Verdi: Il Trovatore
Verdi: Il Trovatore
7 used & new from $69.00

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars VOICES WITH SACRED MEDITERRANEAN FIRE....LIVE!, August 24, 2001
This review is from: Verdi: Il Trovatore (Audio CD)
Whether you buy this historic live recording of Il Trovatore, the Verdian masterpiece, on the Pantheon or IDI label, the result is the same: a feast of bel canto and squilli (Lauri Volpi), masculine energy and cavernous notes (Elmo), lyricism and fiery acute notes (Callas), nobility and feline bursts (Silveri). Add to it a lively and fast-paced score conducted by Serafin at the San Carlo Opera House in the winter of 1951, in front of an audience warmed at first in Act I and gone berserk with enthusiasm at the end of Act III! This makes the difference between a pretty, faultless but inanimate studio recording and one taken live, which has atmosphere, glorious singing from the real stage and audience participation. The orchestra sound is not hi-fi, far from it at times. However, the voices soar cleanly and radiantly above the orchestra. The inevitable coughs are all there but who cares! You could not care less if you were a diehard fan of CALLAS or LAURI VOLPI and lover of a live showstopper where dramatic phrasing abounds: "il figlio mio" (a desperate Azucena in Act I), "all'armi" (a heroic troubadour in Act III), "Manrico" (a dying Leonora in Act IV), and "orrore" (a mesmerised Count Di Luna in Act IV). This historic, highly artistical recording is a treat for all fans of the divina Callas when she was 27 years of age, singing with ravishing, sure and youthful tones as I never heard her before. A treat also for all fans (including me) of Lauri Volpi, an unmatched Manrico, at 58 years of age, for pure mezza voce, bel canto and heroic top notes. His memorable "Pira" and famous squillo "All'armi", bringing the house down with enthusiasm, is difficult to describe unless you purchase the CD. In recalling the 1951 performance in Naples, Lauri Volpi, a highly cultured but forthright tenor (a Roman), commented: "The Neapolitans forever want a piece of liver or larynx before they can be moved"!


Verdi: Il Trovatore
Verdi: Il Trovatore
7 used & new from $69.00

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE CALLAS-LAURI VOLPI GLORIOUS CONNECTION...LIVE!, August 23, 2001
This review is from: Verdi: Il Trovatore (Audio CD)
I took an intelligent gamble by purchasing the Verdian masterpiece recorded live and issued by IDI in early 2001. The performance was at the San Carlo Opera House in Naples on 27 January 1951. The expected cons were: poor sound, coughs, and uncontrolled applause. The pros: to hear the soloists' voices without the miracles of studio electronics, enjoy the atmosphere, applaud with the audience, get a great feeling and say "I was there that night".
Keep the CD play volume down, avoid surrounding effect, use bass adjustment, be patient with a few inevitable coughs and the cons will almost cease to be a nuisance. As I hoped, the gamble paid great dividends. It was an exhilarating and memorable night! The audience warmed and became enthusiastic as early as Act I!
One of the most loved and known operas, Il Trovatore has a complex musical texture, setting endless traps to the singers. It calls for four voices of absolute strength, able to soar above a resounding score, kept by the conductor Serafin at a lively and urgent pace. All of them were: Callas, Lauri Volpi, Elmo and Silveri!
Hear, indomitable fans of the divina Callas! A splendid and ravishingly young Leonora on the photo (27 years of age at the time), smiling and holding hands with the legendary Lauri Volpi, the greatest Manrico ever to grace the stage and the most loved tenor in postwar Italy.
Callas' phenomenal "multiple" voice, lyrical, light and dramatic was at her youthful prime and flowed divinely in " Di tale amor"in Act I, to hit acute notes throughout "D'amor sull'ali rosee" in Act IV, with no trace of what detractors call the Callas wobble. Lauri Volpi, a fiery and agile Manrico, was at his poetic best and the crowd went buzzing at the troubadour song in Act I. His "Pira" and famous squillo "All'armi" in Act III were like a message sent to the moon!!! It brought the house down with wild shouts of "Bis, bis"! Elmo, the fatal gypsy Azucena, reflected the spirit of vengeance with masculine energy and cavernous notes. Shouts of "Brava, brava" accompanied her "Stride la vampa". Silveri, originally a bass turned baritone, the evil Count Di Luna, was vocally noble and resonant in "Il balen". What an assortment of powerful and frenetic ensemble in the finale of Act II!


The Book of 101 Opera Librettos: Complete Original Language Texts with English Translations
The Book of 101 Opera Librettos: Complete Original Language Texts with English Translations
by Jessica M. MacMurray
Edition: Hardcover
70 used & new from $14.98

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GREAT, BUT WITH SPELLING MISTAKES AND LIBERAL TRANSLATIONS, August 15, 2001
Opera is a unique and splendid art form. It combines glorious singing by soloists and ensembles, dramatic or comic acting, spectacular scenes on indoor and outdoor stages, light effects and vibrant music. All these effects depend on the lyrics contained in librettos as a paramount foundation stone. Popular and great composers paid a lot of attention to the libretto or "parola scenica" (scenic word) as Verdi defined it. Puccini struggled in search of suitable subjects for opera. Once he found them, he had stormy relationships with his librettists on lyrics, for him to get inspired and compose immortal melodies. Verdi had problems with librettists apart from censors, in his quest at compressing the action on stage for maximum dramatic effect. When he found a poetic genius (Arrigo Boito) to write for him, he dished out "Otello", a masterpiece of condensed poetry and music, which would have made Shakespeare proud of the opera based on his play. Wisely, Wagner went a stage further and wrote his own lyrics. This book under review is an innovative, monster compilation of famous and popular opera librettos, which will delight and inform operagoers. What is also very handy in the book is a faithful description (in the original language and English) of what goes on the stage. Of course, the book is heavy and thank goodness that it is a single volume, although the pages are thin paper. Otherwise, with more robust paper, there would have been the need of several volumes!
That said, reflecting on the importance of a libretto as foundation stone, I went about checking the accurate spelling of the Italian librettos (my mother-tongue) and how faithful the corresponding English translations were. On the book dust jacket, the editors wrote "COMPLETE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE TEXTS WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS". I found a myriad of spelling mistakes in the Italian texts to make fire ants look like frightened and depleted hordes! As an example, in Luisa Miller (Verdi), Act II and Scene IV, the first 50 singing lines between Walter and Wurm have 18 spelling mistakes of the Italian language. Misspellings and absence of consonants and vowels, missing words and attachment of prepositions to words. It is a real bedlam! There is a claim that the English translations are full. Surely, they are full of sentences that do not correspond to the Italian ones. At times, the meaning conveyed sounds very poetic but is not faithful to the original intention. As an example, in Tosca (Puccini), Act III, Mario Cavaradossi, reminiscing one night of love with Tosca, sings "...mi cadea fra le braccia"(she fell in my arms) translated as "In her soft arms she clasped me" and "le belle forme disciogliea dai veli" (beautiful forms she disclosed from the veils) translated as "A thing of beauty, of matchless symmetry in form and feature!". This is very liberal translation, poetry within poetry!! I may accept the poetic versions in English but a very useful book of complete opera librettos with glaring spelling mistakes is inexcusable. Great pity, because the editors only needed to do a thorough spelling check of the Italian and all other original language librettos. Then, the book would have deserved 5 stars. There is still time and opportunity for the editors to do it. Their effort in producing a great book deserves more accolades than they received from readers so far.


Verdi: Il Trovatore (complete opera) with Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano, Herbert von Karajan, Chorus & Orchestra of La Scala, Milan
Verdi: Il Trovatore (complete opera) with Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano, Herbert von Karajan, Chorus & Orchestra of La Scala, Milan
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A SUPERB LEONORA BUT A DISORIENTED MANRICO AND RELAXED TEMPI, July 13, 2001
Trovatore is among my favorite operas, which I get to listen with passionate expectations. This opera is a masterpiece of dramatic situations. To achieve a supreme effect, there is need of four voices of absolute strength; capable of bel canto, soft tones; dramatic accents and brilliant top notes, supported by a score conducted at an urgent pace. Alas! This Trovatore performed by Di Stefano/Callas/Barbieri/Panerai/VON KARAJAN failed to rise to the occasion. The reasons are the wrong choice of Di Stefano and Panerai to interpret their roles vocally and dramatically, except for the divina Callas and partly imposing Barbieri. Add to these Von Karajan's mixed reading of the score, relaxed tempi and tame climactic moments, proving his poor affinity with the operas of Verdi.
With a warm and Mediterranean musical instinct, Di Stefano was Callas' great partner at La Scala. His fame rivaled those of Del Monaco and Corelli in all major theatre and concert halls of the world. He had begun singing in the late forties with naturalness, simplicity, good taste and discipline as shown in The Pearl fishers. Sadly, within 10 short years, he changed technique for the worse in Tosca and Gioconda. He abused his voice with widely opened notes, neglecting the dimensions of voice and emission. The penalty was very harsh when the voice disappeared prematurely. A listener elsewhere referred to his voice deterioration as "frightening" and you may notice it on this CD as Di Stefano sang Manrico in 1956. Impure bel canto in the troubadour song, poor mezza voce in "Non son tuo figlio", shouts in the famous "Pira", short breath and no squillo in "All'armi". The famous fiery aria was no showpiece at the end of Act III and broke the performance success in half.
Panerai was a baritone specialising in Mozart and Rossini with an intelligent use of attentive, discreet and varied modulations. Later, he took on more engaging roles as the Count in Trovatore or Sir Richard in Puritani. On the CD under review, he did not possess the dramatic accent and exasperated jealousy of the Count. Therefore, he was not a cautious choice to sing the Count.
I recently reviewed a fresh release in early 2001 of Trovatore with four great singers Lauri Volpi/Mancini/Pirazzini/Tagliabue/PREVITALI. Vocally and artistically, it is a stupendous and passionate studio recording made in Rome, February 1951. Buy it, because you will not find a better Trovatore in circulation at present.


Verdi: Il Trovatore
Verdi: Il Trovatore
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Price: $35.93
28 used & new from $1.98

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A SUPERB LEONORA BUT A DISORIENTED MANRICO AND RELAXED TEMPI, July 10, 2001
This review is from: Verdi: Il Trovatore (Audio CD)
Trovatore is among my favorite operas, which I get to listen with passionate expectations. This opera is a masterpiece of dramatic situations. To achieve a supreme effect, there is need of four voices of absolute strength; capable of bel canto, soft tones; dramatic accents and brilliant top notes, supported by a score conducted at an urgent pace.
Alas! This Trovatore performed by Di Stefano/Callas/Barbieri/Panerai/VON KARAJAN failed to rise to the occasion. The reasons are the wrong choice of Di Stefano and Panerai to interpret their roles vocally and dramatically, except for the divina Callas and partly imposing Barbieri. Add to these Von Karajan's mixed reading of the score, relaxed tempi and tame climactic moments, proving his poor affinity with the operas of Verdi.
With a warm and Mediterranean musical instinct, Di Stefano was Callas' great partner at La Scala. His fame rivaled those of Del Monaco and Corelli in all major theatre and concert halls of the world. He had begun singing in the late forties with naturalness, simplicity, good taste and discipline as shown in The Pearl Fishers. Sadly, within 10 short years, he changed technique for the worse in Tosca and Gioconda. He abused his voice with widely opened notes, neglecting the dimensions of voice and emission. The penalty was very harsh when the voice disappeared prematurely. A listener elsewhere referred to his voice deterioration as "frightening" and you may notice it on this CD as Di Stefano sang Manrico in 1956. Impure bel canto in the troubadour song, poor mezza voce in "Non son tuo figlio", shouts in the famous "Pira", short breath and no squillo in "All'armi". The famous fiery aria was no showpiece at the end of Act III and broke the performance success in half.
Panerai was a baritone specialising in Mozart and Rossini with an intelligent use of attentive, discreet and varied modulations. Later, he took on more engaging roles as the Count in Trovatore or Sir Richard in Puritani. On the CD under review, he did not possess the dramatic accent and exasperated jealousy of the Count. Therefore, he was not a cautious choice to sing the Count.
I recently reviewed a fresh release in early 2001 of Trovatore with four great singers Lauri Volpi/Mancini/Pirazzini/Tagliabue/PREVITALI. Vocally and artistically, it is a stupendous and passionate studio recording made in Rome, February 1951. Buy it, because you will not find a better Trovatore in circulation at present.


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