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--Standard Repertory--

By Giuseppe Verdi

VIDEO: A) Leyla Gencer, Carlo Bergonzi, Fiorenza Cossotto, Capuana conducting ("live" telecast, '66); Bel Canto Society BCS-0610; $34.95; an outdoor spectacular from the Arena di Verona showcasing a superb performance and filmed in respectable B & W; features hundreds of extras, choristers, dancers, etc.; sound quality quite vivid, visuals striking though not the equal of Video C; photography still more than good enough for a "live" telecast; no subtitles  [G.R.]


B) Herva Nelli, Eva Gustavson, Richard Tucker, Giuseppe Valdengo, Arturo Toscanini, NBC Symphony, Robert Shaw Chorale (from NBC telecasts of 26 Mar. and 2 Apr., 1949. [no subtitles, Black and White (B & W)] RCA Gold Seal 60331-6-RG An energized, electrifying performance with musical precision that complements the intense dramatic excitement. Not too stimulating visually, as the performance is in concert form. [G.R.]


C) Sophia Loren, and the voices of Renata Tebaldi, Giuseppe Campora, Ebe Stignani, Gino Bechi. Italian, with English narration. (1951). 95m. Color #553 US$29.95. Opulent film spectacle of Verdi's most well-loved opera, heavily cut, with voices that successfully encompass Verdi's demands. Bel Canto Society. [G.R.]

AUDIO: A) DECCA/LONDON: Leontyne Price, Jon Vickers, Rita Gorr, Solti conducting; spaciously recorded with bold, exciting voices and superb drama; everything (and everybody) works brilliantly in context to make up a thrilling whole; excellent stereo [G.R.]

B) RCA: Zinka Milanov, Jussi Bjoerling, Fedora Barbieri, Perlea conducting; with somewhat more sympathetic and pliable conducting, equally sumptuous singing, less riveting drama; mono [G.R.]

C) MELODRAM CDM 26015: Maria Callas, Mario Del Monaco, Oralia Dominguez, De Fabritiis (sic) conducting ("live," Mexico, 1951); the most exciting and dramatic reading of all, but in so-so sound; the favorite Aida set of many--for good reason; NOT to be confused with a Mexico/Callas broadcast from one year earlier ALSO on MELODRAM(!) under the less exciting Maestro Picco (the poorer Maestro Picco broadcast is MELODRAM CDM 26009--to be avoided); ALSO, AVOID the studio EMI Callas Aida released in 1955/56: she's in poor voice there, even though its Maestro, T.Serafin, remains in a class by himself- -his fine leadership is still not worth the overall set; stick with this 1951 broadcast with De Fabritiis (sic); mono (this 1951 broadcast is also available on ENTERPRISE) [G.R.]

D) ROMOPHONE: Dusolina Giannini, Aureliano Pertile, Irene Minghini-Cataneo, Sabajno conducting; a classic achievement from 1928 in surprisingly vivid sound; like #C, considered the best by many; authentic, committed artists in every role, the tenor Pertile is an acquired taste, searching inwardness and sincerity conveyed in a thrilling voice is measured against occasional barnstorming and--some--vibrato; mono [G.R.]

E) RCA: CD reissue of the audio portion of VIDEO B listed above; fairly good mono [G.R.]

For Further Reading:

The Operas of Verdi : From Don Carlos to Falstaff (Vol. 3, Revised), by Julian Budden

Encounters with Verdi, by Marcello Conati, Richard Stokes, Julian Budden


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This Page Last Revised 8/13/99 | Copyright © 1998 by Geoffrey Riggs
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