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By Arrigo Boito/Giuseppe Verdi

VIDEO: Raina Kabaivanska (soprano--Alice Ford), Janet Perry (soprano--Nanetta), Christa Ludwig (mezzo-soprano--Mrs. Quickly), Francisco Araiza (tenor--Fenton), Giuseppe Taddei (baritone--Falstaff), Rolando Panerai (Baritone--Ford), Herbert von Karajan (conductor), Vienna PO & Vienna State Opera Chorus (filmed in Salzburg, 1982; running time, 135 min., 2 videotapes; no subtitles. $44.99; Sony Classical 41-048422-82; Taddei's interpretation of the title role has never been surpassed; because of him, this VIDEO is probably more richly satisfying than any AUDIO (or other VIDEO) recording that's out there [G.R.]

AUDIO: A) RCA: Giuseppe Valdengo, Herva Nelli, Toscanini conducting; a triumph of ensemble and precision, this treatment gives Verdi's deft comedy precisely the touch of sprung clockwork it needs; everything fits like a glove--and goes like the wind; good mono [G.R.]

B) EMI: Tito Gobbi, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, von Karajan conducting; Gobbi's interpretation of the title role is the only one to--almost--rival Taddei's, and his impersonation, insightful and utterly musical, is worth the whole set; stereo [G.R.]

C) MEMORIES: Mariano Stabile, Renata Tebaldi, de Sabata conducting ("live," 1951); Stabile has nowhere near the vocal equipment of Taddei, Valdengo, or Gobbi, but if there ever was an operatic actor who could make one laugh out loud no matter how many times one heard him in the same role it was this character baritone; surrounded by a wonderful cast (Tebaldi is just the icing on the cake), he reigns supreme over an effervescent reading from de Sabata that combines all the musical precision of Toscanini and all the give and take of the most accommodating "voice fancier"; this paradox makes this de Sabata performance the greatest interpretation of Verdi's final opera I have yet heard; the reason I list it third is because of its so-so AM radio sound and, more devestating, because of its initial LP release (the edition I have) running about A WHOLE TONE SHARP! (knowing what I do about the MEMORIES label, it seems unlikely that this has been adjusted. . . .Buyer beware); 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, 1999 Geoffrey Riggs
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