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Donizetti - The Three Queens Anna Bolena / Maria Stuarda / Roberto Devereux

Reissued, Box Set

4.5 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, Original recording reissued, November 7, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

Product description

Gaetano Donizetti didn't actually set out to compose a cycle based on the tragic histories of the Tudor Queens. The three works gathered here--including his breakthrough opera, Anna Bolena, Roberto Devereux, and the long-neglected Maria Stuarda--were created at various points in his maniacally prolific career, and each has its own rather complicated, haphazard genesis. But the belated reappreciation given to these works at New York City Opera during the heyday of the bel canto revival--a crucial step in the overall revival of Donizetti as well--conferred a sort of post facto sense of unity thanks to the signature contributions of Beverly Sills. These roles were, quite un-punningly, her crowning achievement. Yet despite a brief efflorescence of celebrity (even extending to a Time magazine cover) when she was considered perhaps the rival to Joan Sutherland, Sills slipped through the cracks. For all her formidable acting skill--a substantial aspect of her accomplishment in these interpretations--she never quite made it to the era of opera telecasting, and her problematic recorded catalog and relatively early retirement from the stage hindered the Sills legend from extending to a new generation. But now, there's no excuse to overlook the Sills achievement. Coupled with the belated reissue of her early triumph in The Ballad of Baby Doe, this Donizetti box set gives a fuller portrait of the artist Sills. This is quite simply a can't-miss bonanza for Donizetti-heads and, for that matter, fans of beautiful singing. The original project started off with Roberto Devereux--recorded in London in 1969--and continued until the summer 1972 recording of Anna Bolena, but this is the first time the old LPs have been made collectively available on CD in remastered format. The box includes facsimiles of the original lengthy liner notes (with astute background, commentary, and translations--full libretti included--by William Ashbrook)

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Gaetano Donizetti didn't actually set out to compose a cycle based on the tragic histories of the Tudor Queens. The three works gathered here--including his breakthrough opera, Anna Bolena, Roberto Devereux, and the long-neglected Maria Stuarda--were created at various points in his maniacally prolific career, and each has its own rather complicated, haphazard genesis. But the belated reappreciation given to these works at New York City Opera during the heyday of the bel canto revival--a crucial step in the overall revival of Donizetti as well--conferred a sort of post facto sense of unity thanks to the signature contributions of Beverly Sills. These roles were, quite unpunningly, her crowning achievement. Yet despite a brief efflorescence of celebrity (even extending to a Time magazine cover) when she was considered perhaps the rival to Joan Sutherland, Sills slipped through the cracks. For all her formidable acting skill--a substantial aspect of her accomplishment in these interpretations--she never quite made it to the era of opera telecasting, and her problematic recorded catalog and relatively early retirement from the stage hindered the Sills legend from extending to a new generation.

But now, there's no excuse to overlook the Sills achievement. Coupled with the belated reissue of her early triumph in The Ballad of Baby Doe, this Donizetti box set gives a fuller portrait of the artist Sills. This is quite simply a can't-miss bonanza for Donizetti-heads and, for that matter, fans of beautiful singing. The original project started off with Roberto Devereux--recorded in London in 1969--and continued until the summer 1972 recording of Anna Bolena, but this is the first time the old LPs have been made collectively available on CD in remastered format. The box includes facsimiles of the original lengthy liner notes (with astute background, commentary, and translations--full libretti included--by William Ashbrook) and a bonus booklet of photos from the original NYC Opera productions.

Just as the musical content varies in quality from opera to opera, indeed within each opera, the level of performance is by no means seamless or at the same peak pitch throughout. Some listeners will prefer the less liberal but profoundly attentive and intuitively rich conducting of Charles Mackerras in Devereux, while others will overlook the rather surprisingly sloppy string ensemble and figuration committed by the London Symphony in Anna Bolena for the hectic energy and pacing Julius Rudel could conjure. The challenges demanded by Donizetti's heavy writing for Elisabetta in Devereux can manifest as strain, but this part also registers Sills's vocal acting with a powerful punch: just listen to the range of emotional content she sails through in the scene of her conflicted first duet with Roberto, beginning with "un tenero core" (Act I). One of the joys here is zeroing in on your own favorite passage, scena, flicker of insight: perhaps it's Anna in prison, the outburst of two queens meeting in the park outside Fotheringhay (who cares if history has been amended to suit dramatic license?), or Elisabetta's horrifying realization upon the execution of her beloved. And despite some unevenness in the casting, this set offers a number of other vocal treasures to set beside Sills's artistry: the utterly compelling Giovanna (Jane Seymour) of Shirley Verrett in Anna Bolena, Eileen Farrell's return to the studio for Maria Stuarda's imperious Elizabeth (interesting to compare with Sills's earlier slant on the queen from Devereux), Paul Plishka's imposing Henry the 8th, Peter Glossop's scheming Nottingham. If you're not already an addict, this set will bring you back for fix after fix. --Thomas May

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Anna Bolena: Sinfonia (Overture) - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  2. Anna Bolena: Act 1 - Scene 1 - Introduzione - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  3. Anna Bolena: Ella di me, sollecita - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  4. Anna Bolena: Si taciturna e mesta - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  5. Anna Bolena: Deh! Non voler costringere - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  6. Anna Bolena: Come, innocente giovane - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  7. Anna Bolena: Legger potessi in me! Non v'ha sguardo - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  8. Anna Bolena: O! qual parlar fu il suo! - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  9. Anna Bolena: Si: l'avrete - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  10. Anna Bolena: La mia fama e a' pie dell'ara - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  11. Anna Bolena: Ella pure amor m'orrfia - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  12. Anna Bolena: Ah! qual sia cercar non oso - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  13. Anna Bolena: Act 1 - Scene 2 - Chi veggo?...in Inghilterra - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  14. Anna Bolena: Da quel di che, lei perduta - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  15. Anna Bolena: Ah! cosi nei di ridenti - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  16. Anna Bolena: Desta si tosto - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  17. Anna Bolena: Io sentii sulla mio mano - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  18. Anna Bolena: Or che reso ai patri i lidi - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  19. Anna Bolena: Questo di per noi spuntato - Beverly Sills (Anna)

Disc: 2

  1. Anna Bolena: Act 1 - Scene 3 - E'sgombro il loco... - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  2. Anna Bolena: Ah! parea che per incanto - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  3. Anna Bolena: Basta...basta...tropp'oltre vai... - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  4. Anna Bolena: Anna! - Riccardo! - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  5. Anna Bolena: S'ei t'aborre, io t'amo ancora - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  6. Anna Bolena: Ah!...per pieta del mio spavento - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  7. Anna Bolena: Alcun potria ascoltarti - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  8. Anna Bolena: Tace ognuno - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  9. Anna Bolena: In quegli sgardi impresso - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  10. Anna Bolena: In separato carcere - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  11. Anna Bolena: Act 2 - Scene 1 - O! Dove mai ne andarono - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  12. Anna Bolena: O mie fedeli - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  13. Anna Bolena: Dio, che mi vedi in core - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  14. Anna Bolena: Sul suo capo aggravi un Dio - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  15. Anna Bolena: Dal mio cor punita io sono - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  16. Anna Bolena: Va, infelice, e teco reca - Beverly Sills (Anna)

Disc: 3

  1. Anna Bolena: Act 2 - Scene 2 - Ebben? dinanzi ai giudici - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  2. Anna Bolena: Scostatevi...il Re giunge... - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  3. Anna Bolena: Ambo morrete - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  4. Anna Bolena: Al Consiglio sien tratti - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  5. Anna Bolena: Sposa a Percy - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  6. Anna Bolena: Per questa fiamma indomita - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  7. Anna Bolena: Stolta! non sai... - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  8. Anna Bolena: Ah! pensate che rivolti - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  9. Anna Bolena: Act 2 - Scene 3 - Tu pur dannato a morte - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  10. Anna Bolena: Vive tu, te ne scongiuro - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  11. Anna Bolena: Nel veder la tua costanza - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  12. Anna Bolena: Chi puo verderla - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  13. Anna Bolena: Piangete voi? - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  14. Anna Bolena: Al dolce giudami castel natio - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  15. Anna Bolena: Qual mesto suon?... - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  16. Anna Bolena: Cielo, a miei lunghi spasimi - Beverly Sills (Anna)
  17. Anna Bolena: Coppia iniqua - Beverly Sills (Anna)

Disc: 4

  1. Maria Stuarda: Overture - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  2. Maria Stuarda: Act 1: Preludio - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  3. Maria Stuarda: Act 1: Qui si attende - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  4. Maria Stuarda: Act 1: Si, vuol di Francia il Rege - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  5. Maria Stuarda: Act 1: Ah! quando all'ara scorgemi - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  6. Maria Stuarda: Act 1: Fra voi perche - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  7. Maria Stuarda: Act 1: Hai nelle giostre - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  8. Maria Stuarda: Act 1: Questa immago - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  9. Maria Stuarda: Act 1: Sei tu confuso? - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  10. Maria Stuarda: Act 1: Quali sensi - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  11. Maria Stuarda: Act 2: Allenta il pie, Regina - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  12. Maria Stuarda: Act 2: Oh nube! - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  13. Maria Stuarda: Act 2: Ah! non m'inganna la gioia! - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  14. Maria Stuarda: Act 2: Da tutti abbandonata - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  15. Maria Stuarda: Act 2: Qual loco e questo? - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  16. Maria Stuarda: Act 2: E'sempre la stessa - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)

Disc: 5

  1. Maria Stuarda: Act 2 - Deh! I'accorgli! - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  2. Maria Stuarda: Va, preparati furente - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  3. Maria Stuarda: Act 3 - E pensi? E tradi? - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  4. Maria Stuarda: Quella vita - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  5. Maria Stuarda: Si!...Regina! - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  6. Maria Stuarda: D'una sorella, o barbara - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  7. Maria Stuarda: La perfida insultarmi - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  8. Maria Stuarda: Che vuoi? - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  9. Maria Stuarda: Oh mio buon Talbo! - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  10. Maria Stuarda: Quando il luce rosea - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  11. Maria Stuarda: Vedeste? Vedemmo - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  12. Maria Stuarda: Anna?...Qui piu sommessi favellate - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  13. Maria Stuarda: Deh! Tu di un umile preghiera - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  14. Maria Stuarda: Oh colpo!... - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  15. Maria Stuarda: Giunge il Conte - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)
  16. Maria Stuarda: Ah! se un giorno da queste ritorte - Christian du Plessis (Cecil)

Disc: 6

  1. Roberto Deveraux: Overture - Richard Val Allan (A Servant Of Nottingham)
  2. Roberto Deveraux: Act 1 - Geme!...pallor funereo - Richard Val Allan (A Servant Of Nottingham)
  3. Roberto Deveraux: All' afflito e dolce il pianto - Richard Val Allan (A Servant Of Nottingham)
  4. Roberto Deveraux: Duchessa...Alle fervide preci - Richard Val Allan (A Servant Of Nottingham)
  5. Roberto Deveraux: L'amor suo mi fe beata - Richard Val Allan (A Servant Of Nottingham)
  6. Roberto Deveraux: Nunzio son del Parlamento - Richard Val Allan (A Servant Of Nottingham)
  7. Roberto Deveraux: Donna reale, a' piedi tuoi... - Richard Val Allan (A Servant Of Nottingham)
  8. Roberto Deveraux: Un tenero core - Richard Val Allan (A Servant Of Nottingham)
  9. Roberto Deveraux: Roberto...Che?...fra le tue braccia! - Richard Val Allan (A Servant Of Nottingham)
  10. Roberto Deveraux: Forse in quel cor sensibile - Richard Val Allan (A Servant Of Nottingham)
  11. Roberto Deveraux: Duca, vieni... - Richard Val Allan (A Servant Of Nottingham)
  12. Roberto Deveraux: Qui ribelle ognum ti chiama - Richard Val Allan (A Servant Of Nottingham)
  13. Roberto Deveraux: Tutto e silenzio - Richard Val Allan (A Servant Of Nottingham)
  14. Roberto Deveraux: Dacche tornasti, ahi misera! - Richard Val Allan (A Servant Of Nottingham)

Disc: 7

  1. Roberto Devereux: L'ore trascorrono - Beverly Sills (Elizabeth, Queen Of England)
  2. Roberto Devereux: Ebben? - Beverly Sills (Elizabeth, Queen Of England)
  3. Roberto Devereux: Segui!... - Beverly Sills (Elizabeth, Queen Of England)
  4. Roberto Devereux: Non venni mai si mesto - Beverly Sills (Elizabeth, Queen Of England)
  5. Roberto Devereux: Ecco l'indegno!... - Beverly Sills (Elizabeth, Queen Of England)
  6. Roberto Devereux: Scellerato!...Malvagio!... - Beverly Sills (Elizabeth, Queen Of England)
  7. Roberto Devereux: Va, la morte sul capo ti pende - Beverly Sills (Elizabeth, Queen Of England)
  8. Roberto Devereux: Ne riede ancora il mio consorte! - Beverly Sills (Elizabeth, Queen Of England)
  9. Roberto Devereux: Non sai che un nume vindice - Beverly Sills (Elizabeth, Queen Of England)
  10. Roberto Devereux: Ed ancor la tremeda porta - Beverly Sills (Elizabeth, Queen Of England)
  11. Roberto Devereux: A te diro' negli ultimi singhiozzi - Beverly Sills (Elizabeth, Queen Of England)
  12. Roberto Devereux: Bagnato il sen di lagrime - Beverly Sills (Elizabeth, Queen Of England)
  13. Roberto Devereux: E sara in questi orribili momenti - Beverly Sills (Elizabeth, Queen Of England)
  14. Roberto Devereux: Vivi, ingrato, a lei d'accanto - Beverly Sills (Elizabeth, Queen Of England)
  15. Roberto Devereux: Che m'apporti? - Beverly Sills (Elizabeth, Queen Of England)
  16. Roberto Devereux: Quel sangue versato al ciel - Beverly Sills (Elizabeth, Queen Of England)


Product details

  • Performer: Beverly Sills, Sherley Verrett, Robert Lloyd, Richard van Allan, Gwynne Howell
  • Orchestra: London Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Charles Mackerras, Julius Rudel, Aldo Ceccato
  • Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
  • Audio CD (November 7, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 7
  • Format: Box set, Original recording reissued
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000050I2W
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,300 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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