Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 494604 times)

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3180 on: August 04, 2022, 01:29:57 AM »


This was quite an enterprise when it was issued in 1985. Not only was it the first major studio recording of the opera in French, but Abbado included in an appendix music cut from the first performance, excised from the 1882-83 four act version, or recomposed in that revision.

This time round, I foud this set an absorbing listen and emereged with renewed admiration for this great, but flawed score. The French language does give the score a slightly different tinta, reflected in Abbado's thoughtful conducting. Unfortunately, save for Domingo's sensitive and highly strung Carlos, much more multi faceted here than in the Italian version under Giulini, the cast doesn't really match up to those on Karajan and Giulini. Ricciarelli is a sensitive, greatly affecting Elsiabeth, but itsn't quite up to the big moments, Valentini-Terrani too light voiced for Eboli, Nucci a somehwat unimaginative Posa and Raimondi and Ghiaurov, having swapped roles since Karajan, are just past their best.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed listening to the opera yet again, even if I would place this set slightly below my others (Giulini and Karajan).
« Last Edit: August 04, 2022, 01:32:29 AM by Tsaraslondon »
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Online Papy Oli

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3181 on: August 04, 2022, 02:00:49 AM »
Tsara,

Which of Karajan's Don Carlo are you referring to please ? I have already sampled the Giulini, I could do with an alternative or two for comparison. Thank you.


   
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Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3182 on: August 04, 2022, 02:06:30 AM »


This was quite an enterprise when it was issued in 1985. Not only was it the first major studio recording of the opera in French, but Abbado included in an appendix music cut from the first performance, excised from the 1882-83 four act version, or recomposed in that revision.

This time round, I foud this set an absorbing listen and emereged with renewed admiration for this great, but flawed score. The French language does give the score a slightly different tinta, reflected in Abbado's thoughtful conducting. Unfortunately, save for Domingo's sensitive and highly strung Carlos, much more multi faceted here than in the Italian version under Giulini, the cast doesn't really match up to those on Karajan and Giulini. Ricciarelli is a sensitive, greatly affecting Elsiabeth, but itsn't quite up to the big moments, Valentini-Terrani too light voiced for Eboli, Nucci a somehwat unimaginative Posa and Raimondi and Ghiaurov, having swapped roles since Karajan, are just past their best.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed listening to the opera yet again, even if I would place this set slightly below my others (Giulini and Karajan).

Thanks for your interesting  comments on this recording, Tsaraslondon, with which I mostly agree. This was an ambitious project by Abbado, and despite its flaws, I find this to be an enjoyable reading of one IMHO Verdi's greatest achievements. I think Don Carlos works much better in French than in Italian --even if the geratest recordings of the opera are of the Italian version(s), e.g. Giulini's on EMI). I have always had a weakness for Ricciarelli, Valentini-Terrani's lighter, "Rossinian"Eboli does work in a way, and Domingo is great in the lead rôle. OTOH, I find Nucci rather pedestrian (here and elsewhere), and unfortunately the French pronunciation of many of the singers leaves a lot to be desired.

Tsara,

Which of Karajan's Don Carlo are you referring to please ? I have already sampled the Giulini, I could do with an alternative or two for comparison. Thank you.


   

I think he's referring to the studio set on EMI / Warner (with a similar cast to the live one on Orfeo that you posted, Olivier).

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Online Papy Oli

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3183 on: August 04, 2022, 02:18:07 AM »
I think he's referring to the studio set on EMI / Warner (with a similar cast to the live one on Orfeo that you posted, Olivier).



Good afternoon Rafael, and Gracias!  8)
Still finding my feet rummaging in the opera world but I am starting to register singers' names that have appealed to me so far (and appear in some of my purchases so far). This version certainly has 2 or 3 of them. Weirdly though, I can't find it on Idagio, Qobuz or Presto. Only a couple of used copies on Ebay. I'll have a look on YT.
Olivier

Online Papy Oli

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3184 on: August 04, 2022, 04:35:17 AM »
Pardon my ignorance but is there any more variations in Don Carlo(s) than the French/Italian one ?

I thought I had found the Karajan EMI on youtube (matching cast as far I can see : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqDUXFszPCc ) but it starts completely differently to the Giulini I have been streaming. Karajan starts with a sombre opening and singing. Giulini has loud brass and chorus.

I am confused. Is the work on YT not actually Don Carlo ? Thank you in advance.  :-[
Olivier

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3185 on: August 04, 2022, 04:59:42 AM »
Pardon my ignorance but is there any more variations in Don Carlo(s) than the French/Italian one ?

I thought I had found the Karajan EMI on youtube (matching cast as far I can see : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqDUXFszPCc ) but it starts completely differently to the Giulini I have been streaming. Karajan starts with a sombre opening and singing. Giulini has loud brass and chorus.

I am confused. Is the work on YT not actually Don Carlo ? Thank you in advance.  :-[

The gestation of Don Carlo (or Don Carlos) is quite confusing as the opera exists in several editions. It was originally written for the Paris Opéra in five acts and was actually written to a French libretto. When Verdi prepared an Italian version, he reduced it to four acts, cutting the Fontainebleau act that opens the opera in the original version and moving Carlo's first aria from Act I to Act II, which became the new Act I. For many years this was the way the opera was usually performed, if it was performed at all. It wasn't held in quite the same high regard as it is now for many years.

In 1958 Giulini restored the first act, albeit still in Italian, when he conducted the opera in Visconti's famous prodiction at Covent Garden with Vickers, Gobbi and Christoff among the cast. It was such a success that this is how the opera was generally performed from then on, though Karajan continued to prefer the four act version and both the studio recording and all his live performances stick to four acts.

When Solti recorded it for Decca, he preferred the five act version, as, not surprisingly, did Giulini when he recorded it for EMI. The Abbado recording was the first major studio recording to perform it in French, though what he recorded was essentially the same edition as Solti and Giulini, but sung in French. After it's initial, not particularly successful, premiere Verdi tinkered with it quite a bit for different revivals, so there can still be quite a few discrepancies between different performances, depending on what edition the conductor chooses and which extra music he includes.

I know how complicated this all seems, but the main thing to be aware of is that if a recording is of the four act version, it will not include the Fontainebleau act. Personally I think it essential, as it tells us more about the relationship between Carlo and Elisabeth before she married Philip, but many prefer the tauter four act version. Timings should tell you what you need to know.

I have three recordings; Giulini, Karajan and Abbado, which between them cover most bases. It's a great opera, beloved by all Verdians. I think the scene that begins with Philips great soliloquy is one of the greatest in all opera.
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3186 on: August 04, 2022, 05:06:29 AM »
Good afternoon Rafael, and Gracias!  8)
Still finding my feet rummaging in the opera world but I am starting to register singers' names that have appealed to me so far (and appear in some of my purchases so far). This version certainly has 2 or 3 of them. Weirdly though, I can't find it on Idagio, Qobuz or Presto. Only a couple of used copies on Ebay. I'll have a look on YT.

It's rather a shame that the Karajan studio set seems no longer to be available. With any luck, this could mean that Warner have withdrawn it whilst they do a remaster. Lord knows, it needs it, but I somehow doubt it.

While we're on the subject of downloads and streaming, it does worry me that we are movig towards not owning anything. At one time you bought a record in physical form and had it for life. Nowadays we are at the mercy of the streaming and download companies. If they decide to delete something from their catalogue, we lose it. I still prefer physical CDs and nothing will ever persaude me to part with them.
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Online Papy Oli

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3187 on: August 04, 2022, 05:29:58 AM »
The gestation of Don Carlo (or Don Carlos) is quite confusing as the opera exists in several editions. It was originally written for the Paris Opéra in five acts and was actually written to a French libretto. When Verdi prepared an Italian version, he reduced it to four acts, cutting the Fontainebleau act that opens the opera in the original version and moving Carlo's first aria from Act I to Act II, which became the new Act I. For many years this was the way the opera was usually performed, if it was performed at all. It wasn't held in quite the same high regard as it is now for many years.

In 1958 Giulini restored the first act, albeit still in Italian, when he conducted the opera in Visconti's famous prodiction at Covent Garden with Vickers, Gobbi and Christoff among the cast. It was such a success that this is how the opera was generally performed from then on, though Karajan continued to prefer the four act version and both the studio recording and all his live performances stick to four acts.

When Solti recorded it for Decca, he preferred the five act version, as, not surprisingly, did Giulini when he recorded it for EMI. The Abbado recording was the first major studio recording to perform it in French, though what he recorded was essentially the same edition as Solti and Giulini, but sung in French. After it's initial, not particularly successful, premiere Verdi tinkered with it quite a bit for different revivals, so there can still be quite a few discrepancies between different performances, depending on what edition the conductor chooses and which extra music he includes.

I know how complicated this all seems, but the main thing to be aware of is that if a recording is of the four act version, it will not include the Fontainebleau act. Personally I think it essential, as it tells us more about the relationship between Carlo and Elisabeth before she married Philip, but many prefer the tauter four act version. Timings should tell you what you need to know.

I have three recordings; Giulini, Karajan and Abbado, which between them cover most bases. It's a great opera, beloved by all Verdians. I think the scene that begins with Philips great soliloquy is one of the greatest in all opera.

Thank you very much for that clear and thorough answer. It makes sense now. I'll update my opera spreadsheet with this info before I forget about it !!

I'll stick to Giulini as my entry point if anything because the large chunk of his Fontainebleau Act I convinced me to dive in further into this opera. I'll save the Karajan on Youtube for a future listen.

It's rather a shame that the Karajan studio set seems no longer to be available. With any luck, this could mean that Warner have withdrawn it whilst they do a remaster. Lord knows, it needs it, but I somehow doubt it.

While we're on the subject of downloads and streaming, it does worry me that we are movig towards not owning anything. At one time you bought a record in physical form and had it for life. Nowadays we are at the mercy of the streaming and download companies. If they decide to delete something from their catalogue, we lose it. I still prefer physical CDs and nothing will ever persaude me to part with them.

I have seen the Karajan listed on a used CD reseller website and a couple of entries on Ebay too. I have found some real bargains on used opera CDs so far. My first proper order last month (https://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,21529.msg1457762.html#msg1457762) cost less than £21 delivered. No issue to play/rip to FLAC yet either.

Streaming the various recommended versions did help me greatly to narrow down which one I should track down.   
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3188 on: August 04, 2022, 06:52:43 AM »


One of my favourites from Verdi's "galley years". It's a bit short on plot, but musically it has some terrfific moments and seems to me that, along with Ernani, which came just before it, to be a big stride forward from I Lombardi. I should single out the prison scene for special mention.

This is a terrific performance and one of the very best in Gardelli's series of early Verdi for Philips. Ricciarelli is fantastic as Lucrezia, and in fact I'm not sure I've ever heard her do anything better, and Carreras at his early career best, is dramatically involved and sings with great lyrical beauty. The lower voices are also wonderfully filled by Cappucilli and Ramey. Highly recommended to anyone interested in investigating Verdi's early operas.
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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3189 on: August 04, 2022, 07:04:20 AM »


One of my favourites from Verdi's "galley years". It's a bit short on plot, but musically it has some terrfific moments and seems to me that, along with Ernani, which came just before it, to be a big stride forward from I Lombardi. I should single out the prison scene for special mention.

This is a terrific performance and one of the very best in Gardelli's series of early Verdi for Philips. Ricciarelli is fantastic as Lucrezia, and in fact I'm not sure I've ever heard her do anything better, and Carreras at his early career best, is dramatically involved and sings with great lyrical beauty. The lower voices are also wonderfully filled by Cappucilli and Ramey. Highly recommended to anyone interested in investigating Verdi's early operas.

Thankyou for this recommendation - not one of the early Verdi I know at all but I managed to find a cheap copy online so have snapped it up.  When I was working in Italy we played I Lombardi at Busseto and I loved doing that so if Foscari is "a big stride forward" I'm up for that! (In the same season we played Semiramide with Ricciarelli in the main role and that was pretty good too.......)
« Last Edit: August 04, 2022, 07:06:00 AM by Roasted Swan »

Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3190 on: August 04, 2022, 10:04:58 AM »
Talking of Ricciarelli, I’m revisiting —after many moons— one of her less successful recordings, the 1982 Aïda (only Acts III and IV this evening). Claudio Abbado conducts the La Scala forces, with Plácido Domingo, Elena Obraztsova, Leo Nucci et al.



This recording has never received a good press, and listening to it now, it sounds like the typical vehicle of the early digital age to bring a star-studded product to the market in what appears to be a haste. I’m not convinced Abbado was really keen on this work (neither am I, TBH  ::)), and even if we get some great moments from the orchestra, this doesn’t come through as a fully cohesive performance. Ricciarelli has lovely moments, but also faces some huge difficulties (some notes in O patria mia are frankly painful to the ear). Domingo is, well, Domingo, but this doesn’t sound like a particularly memorable performance. The word pedestrian springs to mind again regarding Nucci, and Obraztsova is (as usual) downright vulgar.

At least I’m killing time, waiting for the TV series I’m hooked on, I bastardi di Pizzofalcone (an Italian RAI production —set in Naples— from a couple of years ago that is being rebroadcast this summer on Spanish National Television) to start in a while.  ;)
« Last Edit: August 04, 2022, 10:36:44 AM by ritter »
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3191 on: August 04, 2022, 12:23:37 PM »
Talking of Ricciarelli, I’m revisiting —after many moons— one of her less successful recordings, the 1982 Aïda (only Acts III and IV this evening). Claudio Abbado conducts the La Scala forces, with Plácido Domingo, Elena Obraztsova, Leo Nucci et al.



This recording has never received a good press, and listening to it now, it sounds like the typical vehicle of the early digital age to bring a star-studded product to the market in what appears to be a haste. I’m not convinced Abbado was really keen on this work (neither am I, TBH  ::)), and even if we get some great moments from the orchestra, this doesn’t come through as a fully cohesive performance. Ricciarelli has lovely moments, but also faces some huge difficulties (some notes in O patria mia are frankly painful to the ear). Domingo is, well, Domingo, but this doesn’t sound like a particularly memorable performance. The word pedestrian springs to mind again regarding Nucci, and Obraztsova is (as usual) downright vulgar.



I'm not sure if I've ever heard this set, but the mere presence of Obraztsova in the cast is enough to put me off, and I've never much liked Nucci in anything either. I do like Ricciarelli in the right repertoire, but can't imagine Aida would have been a good role for her. Earlier Verdi suits her better. She's a most affecting Luisa Miller, though perhaps more fallible vocally than her main rivals, Moffo and Caballé. Her Lucrezia in I due Foscari that I was listening to earlier is really good, as is her Lida in La Battaglia di Legnano.

Anyway, your mini review hasn't made me want to seek the Abbado Aida out. Funnily enough the opera isn't really one of my favourites either, though I've managed to acquire six recordings.
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3192 on: August 06, 2022, 12:33:39 AM »


I doubt there's much point trying to make much of the preposterous plot. Better just to enjoy Verdi's glorious music.

Considering its relative popularity from amongst Verdi's early works, Ernani hasn't had that many recordings, possibly because of the excellence of this one, which was fist issued in 1968. Price and Bergonzi are outstanding, indeed I'm not sure if Bergonzi ever did anything finer. Sereni and Flagello aren't always models of style but are a good deal better than acceptable and Schippers has a great grasp of the needs of the score.

Hugely enjoyable.
 
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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3193 on: August 06, 2022, 02:18:52 AM »
I doubt there's much point trying to make much of the preposterous plot. Better just to enjoy Verdi's glorious music.

Considering its relative popularity from amongst Verdi's early works, Ernani hasn't had that many recordings, possibly because of the excellence of this one, which was fist issued in 1968. Price and Bergonzi are outstanding, indeed I'm not sure if Bergonzi ever did anything finer. Sereni and Flagello aren't always models of style but are a good deal better than acceptable and Schippers has a great grasp of the needs of the score.

Hugely enjoyable.

Agree: great recording. (Very minor quasi-nitpick: it was recorded in July 1967, though I do expect that meant it was issued in 1968).

My artwork has rather more terrible makeup than yours, though!
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3194 on: August 06, 2022, 02:48:48 AM »
Agree: great recording. (Very minor quasi-nitpick: it was recorded in July 1967, though I do expect that meant it was issued in 1968).

My artwork has rather more terrible makeup than yours, though!

Exactly, which is why I used the word "issued". My copy just has a first issued date on it, nothing to say when and where it was recorded.
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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3195 on: August 06, 2022, 03:22:02 AM »
Exactly, which is why I used the word "issued".

And precisely why I called it a 'quasi-nitpick' rather than a full-on one :)

My copy just has a first issued date on it, nothing to say when and where it was recorded.

Oh, well: if you're interested, it was recorded in July 1967 in the RCA Italiana Studios, Rome. Produced by Richard Mohr, Digitally re-mastered by David Frost (probably not that David Frost!) and James Crotty.
It is cruel, you know, that music should be so beautiful. (Benjamin Britten)

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3196 on: August 06, 2022, 04:43:38 AM »
Having listened for the first time to and really enjoyed Tosca this week (via the Davis/Caballé/Carreras version), I decided to give a fair go to the De Sabata/Callas/Gobbi/Di Stefano version today, while the story was still fresh in my mind.

Planning to spread the three acts over the weekend. I pressed play for Act I only and it just played on and on up to the closing notes, my headphones glued to my ears. I guess I am convinced  ;D The voices of Di Stefano and Gobbi were really striking from the off and I will have to make a mental note of their names from now on in my future explorations. Whilst I still took a bit of time to getting used to Callas' voice, it eventually just drew me in as well. I thought that Tosca's jealousy and then despair were already very well portrayed by Caballé earlier in the week but Callas took both to another level.

Yup, I am on board with this I guess 0:)

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3197 on: August 06, 2022, 04:57:00 AM »
Having listened for the first time to and really enjoyed Tosca this week (via the Davis/Caballé/Carreras version), I decided to give a fair go to the De Sabata/Callas/Gobbi/Di Stefano version today, while the story was still fresh in my mind.

Planning to spread the three acts over the weekend. I pressed play for Act I only and it just played on and on up to the closing notes, my headphones glued to my ears. I guess I am convinced  ;D The voices of Di Stefano and Gobbi were really striking from the off and I will have to make a mental note of their names from now on in my future explorations. Whilst I still took a bit of time to getting used to Callas' voice, it eventually just drew me in as well. I thought that Tosca's jealousy and then despair were already very well portrayed by Caballé earlier in the week but Callas took both to another level.

Yup, I am on board with this I guess 0:)

You have obviously experienced the audio magic!

(She's the only person I know that you can hear smile, when she sings 'Cosi' in the final act, as her lover goes off to his execution, which she thinks is not going to be real).

But if you get the chance, do take a look at her Covent Garden 1964 final act (why they only recorded the last bit of the performance remains an annoying mystery!). She is quite extraordinary in it: the intensity and passion is frightening at times. Look at her yelling -almost spitting- 'Mori!' at Scarpia as he lies groaning on the floor. She wants that bastard deader than dead! It's wonderful stuff. (And Tito Gobbi is no slouch as Scarpia, either!)

Here's a link to the video in question.
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3198 on: August 06, 2022, 04:59:13 AM »
Having listened for the first time to and really enjoyed Tosca this week (via the Davis/Caballé/Carreras version), I decided to give a fair go to the De Sabata/Callas/Gobbi/Di Stefano version today, while the story was still fresh in my mind.

Planning to spread the three acts over the weekend. I pressed play for Act I only and it just played on and on up to the closing notes, my headphones glued to my ears. I guess I am convinced  ;D The voices of Di Stefano and Gobbi were really striking from the off and I will have to make a mental note of their names from now on in my future explorations. Whilst I still took a bit of time to getting used to Callas' voice, it eventually just drew me in as well. I thought that Tosca's jealousy and then despair were already very well portrayed by Caballé earlier in the week but Callas took both to another level.

Yup, I am on board with this I guess 0:)



Callas's is a voice it can take some time to get used to. I loved it from the outset, whereas I know others took more convincing. What is not in doubt is her supreme musicianship. She is first and foremost a musician, then a singer, which is not something you can always say about singers. De Sabata himself once said to her record producer, Walter Legge,

Quote
If the public could understand, as we do, how deeply and utterly musical Callas is, they would be stunned.

Having been listening to her for well over fifty years now, she continues to stun me on a regular basis.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3199 on: August 06, 2022, 05:02:50 AM »
You have obviously experienced the audio magic!

(She's the only person I know that you can hear smile, when she sings 'Cosi' in the final act, as her lover goes off to his execution, which she thinks is not going to be real).

But if you get the chance, do take a look at her Covent Garden 1964 final act (why they only recorded the last bit of the performance remains an annoying mystery!). She is quite extraordinary in it: the intensity and passion is frightening at times. Look at her yelling -almost spitting- 'Mori!' at Scarpia as he lies groaning on the floor. She wants that bastard deader than dead! It's wonderful stuff. (And Tito Gobbi is no slouch as Scarpia, either!)

Here's a link to the video in question.

I agree with this 100% and it's not just that Gobbi and Callas are superb individually. You really see and understand their deep rapport. Gobbi once said his performances of Scarpia only came out 100% when he was singing with Callas. For her part, she had enormous appreciation and respect for him.

I would just mention to Papy Oli that the voice in 1964 is not what it was in 1953, but the dramatic compensations of seeing her act as well as sing are enormous. If only they'd recorded the whole thing!

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas