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--Standard Repertory--

By Arrigo Boito/Giuseppe Verdi

VIDEO: Placido Domingo, Mirella Freni, Carlos Kleiber, 1976; Color, BCS [Bel Canto Society] -0676; $25.99 A splendid performance on a low-level label, no subtitles; still, decent enough quality for the excitement of this evening to be enjoyed. [G.R.]

AUDIO: A) RCA (this time it's RCA who has the monopoly on the great recordings): Ramon Vinay, Herva Nelli, Giuseppe Valdengo, Toscanini conducting ("live," 1947); a deeply soulful Vinay successfully imparts the heart needed to counter Toscanini's thrilling energy; together, these two create an interpretation that goes beyond what they might have achieved apart; here, the taut and concentrated aspects of Toscanini's style work very much in his favor; mono [G.R.]

B) RCA: Jon Vickers, Leonie Rysanek, Tito Gobbi, Serafin conducting; Vickers gives us the most sympathetic and musical interpretation to be heard on disc from any genuine heroic tenor, and one that yields nothing to Vinay in sincerity of expression; Rysanek and Gobbi are also thrilling interpreters; Serafin's conducting is always responsive to his imaginative performers and to the ebb and flow of the music's story-telling; unfortunately, the CD reissue does not include the original LP's performance of Verdi's special ballet music for the Paris premiere (this section was, in fact, never included in A under Toscanini); fine stereo [G.R.]

For Further Reading:

Giuseppe Verdi : Otello, by James Hepokoski (Cambridge Opera Handbook Series)

Otello (English National Opera Guide 7), by Nicholas John

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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