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Customer Review

41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Ten Best Opera Recordings, July 28, 2001
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This review is from: Verdi: Il Trovatore (Audio CD)
There are a lot of thoughtful remarks about this recording from other reviewers here. Although I know for a fact that different people hear differently, or love differently, the same recording, I think that this recording is an incomparable document of a certain style of Italian singing that was on its way out of singers by 1970.
Price, Domingo and Milnes - clearly not Italians - give luxurious, splendidly made performances. Some may prefer other examples of Price's Leonora, and if you're shopping for Price, then that may be an issue. But if you want the best stereo set of this opera, I really think this is still unmatched. The reason is that this recording is one of the last reliable documents of the Italian style of singing Italian opera - as opposed to the international style that we see and hear today. Apres... le deluge.
I am not a scholar or a critic, but it seems to me that this is a recognizably different kind of singing that is totally dominant in opera recordings before 1970 - all the way back to the beginnings of recorded music, characterized by a humane confidence in the nobility of operatic conventions. Even though, for its ethnic credentials, this recording features only the Ambrosian Opera Chorus and two actual Italians in the cast, those two singers - Bonaldo Giaiotti (Fernando) and Fiorenza Cossotto (Azucena) - create an axis with the chorus and Metha's assertive corralling of the orchestra into its particularly Verdian role of opinionated commentator to the action, that provides the unmistakable style and sound that is, unfortunately better represented by mono recordings.
I don't know if there are samples of Giaiotti's first number on this site, or if a short clip would demonstrate this, but if you can, listen to the generosity and total comfort with Ferando's demanding music that allow him to shape a character totally out of the music. Similarly, Cossotto's first scene establishes her dominance as the musical and dramatic force that stabilizes the star-studded cast throughout the recording. She has a limpid mezzo that allows itself to be shaped by Verdi's music, giving us an Azucena who is just as clearly an Italian mama as a ethnically challenged nut - something impossible to understand without a sensitivity to the conventions of Italian opera, which this recording has. The Ambrosian Opera Chorus handle the inflections of their black-face gypsy music without the slightest irony, almost naively - which is an absolute must for the understanding and enjoyment of this opera.
The best thing about it is that it blends - all the talent on this recording is beautifully blended and shaped with the listener in mind - the notion that special attention should be paid to the fact that the listener is not in a theater but in his home (car?). In all this, the only wish I have is that Decca had recorded this, but don't let this criticism distract you - the sound is fine.
If you're looking for an exciting musically and dramatically thrilling recording of this most Italian of Italian operas, this is the one for you.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 11, 2013, 11:20:18 AM PDT
N. De Sapio says:
I've just finished listening to the opening scene and had the same thoughts about Giaotti. It would be so easy to sound clumsy in Ferrando's music (I'm pretty sure I've heard other basses stumble through it), but Giaotti never does.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 18, 2014, 10:44:10 AM PDT
Ralph Moore says:
Giaiotti.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 13, 2014, 9:42:10 PM PDT
Spelling corrected in both spots. Thank you Mr. Moore.
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