Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast
Results 16 to 30 of 37

Thread: Bellini on cd.......................

  1. #16
    Senior Member Rogerx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Baarle-Nassau.
    Posts
    7,374
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    And we have a Souliotis recording with Zillo / Luchetti conducted by De Fabritius.

    Released on the Guiseppe DiStefano recordings.
    Last edited by Rogerx; Sep-16-2018 at 04:39.

  2. Likes ldiat liked this post
  3. #17
    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Next to Detroit, Michigan
    Posts
    12,198
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    I must confess to not having spent more than one listen to La Straniera. I have only one set that came in a complete Bellini Operas Set I downloaded for only $10. I am playing a track from it now and it seems quite beautiful. Maybe I need to spend more time with it. This should be the one I have:
    Last edited by Fritz Kobus; Sep-16-2018 at 05:23.
    "All of Italian opera can be heard in [Bellini's] "Ah! non creda [mirarti]."
    --Renata Scotto in "Scotto, More Than a DIva."

  4. #18
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    London UK
    Posts
    2,170
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I haven't posted a review in a while. So next up is Zaira.

    This is another rarity that has fallen by the wayside and since most of its music was reused in Bellini's next opera Capuleti, it's not difficult to see why it's never become part of the repertoire. There are only three recordings, all live and the only one I know is the following:

    Zaira.jpg

    The other two are one with Scotto and another more recent one from the Valle d'itria festival with a cast that is mostly unknown to me. The Nuova Era version above is a good performance and the sound is passable. This is only for Bellini completists, although I wonder what we would get if Opera Rara were to work their magic on it!

    N.

  5. Likes Fritz Kobus, Lensky liked this post
  6. #19
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    London UK
    Posts
    2,170
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    After taking an incredibly long break from this thread I am ready to survey the main recordings of Bellini's sixth opera - I Capuleti e I Montecchi.

    As we are now getting to the more commonly performed operas by Bellini we find that there are more recordings available than for the earlier works. It would be a tremendous effort to review all of them, so I will include the most well known. I have listened to the following:

    Sills/Baker/Gedda - Patane
    Ricciarelli/Montague/Raffanti - Campanella
    Gruberova/Baltsa/Raffanti - Muti
    Hong/Larmore/Groves - Runnicles
    Mei/Kasarova/Vargas - Abbado (Roberto)
    Netrebko/Garanca/Calleja - Luisi

    The Sills/Baker set was the first studio recording of the opera I believe and it is a disappointment. Neither Sills or Baker is suited to Bellini and I would go so far to say that neither was suited to bel canto. That said there voices blend together nicely, but I feel they lack the texture to sing 19th century Italian repertoire and the cool delivery of the music doesn't sound Bellinian to my sensibilities. Baker had already sung Smeton in Anna Bolena at Carnegie Hall and the live recording of that opera reveals that she could deliver in bel canto, but unfortunately that isn't the case with this Romeo. The two would have made a better Susanna/Cherubino or Sophie/Octavian pairing. Gedda sings with refined taste as per usual, but I am not a fan of his voice per se.

    The Ricciarelli/Montague could be considered the most authentic recording due to the mezzo's surname, and the performance is a good one. However this is a live recording with a limited acoustic that makes it a trying listen. Ricciarelli is tender and vulnerable if somewhat too drooping and Montague isn't as virile as I would like. The conducting is nicely italianate, but the set's main asset is Dano Raffanti's Tebaldo. That isn't enough to reccomend the set, though and he does appear on another recording which has better female protagonists.

    It took a while for studio recordings of this opera to get off the ground and the next one is another live document from the ROH with Gruberova and Baltsa conducted by Muti. This also features the excellent Tebaldo of Raffanti and all three of the main singers are superb. Baltsa is possibly the most heroic Romeo on disc and Gruberova is the perfect foil for her. As would be expected Muti conducts the score with great thrust and dramatic excitement, but also handles the more lyrically parts well making this a must have. The sound is good, despite not being up to studio quality, but the performance deserves to be heard.

    Two studio releases came out in the nineties from Teldec and RCA built around their respective mezzo stars of that time. The first from RCA looks fantastic on paper. It reunites the same cast and conductor from their recording of Tancredi. Kasarova is a stunningly masculine Romeo and contrasts with the fragile Giulietta of Eva Mei. Tebaldo is the reliable Ramon Vargas and Roberto Abbado conducts. The sound is perfect and the whole recording is an impeccable example of Bellinian lyricism. However it is too classically beautiful and lacks a sense of drama. One reason for this are the steady, regular tempi of Abbado that sap the life out of the score and render it insipid. Kasarova is the selling point here and her ferocious delivery of the act one aria and act two duet with Tebaldo are the highlights. On the other hand Mei is too vulnerable and weak and this is a bland Giulietta. Great if you want a faithful rendering of the score (and the set includes the end of Vaccai's Giulietta e Romeo in an appendix), but this isn't what I think of as opera.

    the Teldec set produced a year later is everything the previous set wasn't. I don't associate Runnicles with bel canto, but he gets it right in this opera. The overture starts and you know you are in for a treat. There is as much excitement here as in the Muti set and you also have modern studio sound. Larmore is possibly the best Romeo that's been recorded (although the voice isn't as distinctive as Baltsa's) and her rapid fire delivery of the coloratura in the cabaletta to her act one aria is more mouth droppingly wonderful than Kasarova's, there's more nuance to her interpretation of the role overall as well. I wouldn't have Hong or Groves down as being particularly enlightening, but they rise to the occasion here and Hong is characterful and moving as Giulietta without relying solely on the beauty of the music. Groves provides the perfect foil to Larmore's Romeo and this is a great accompaniment to the live Muti recording.

    The DG recording has a cast of casts and fans of the three principals will want it, however none of them are at their best here. Netrebko wasn't really made for bel canto and her voice sounds too dark here. This isn't helped by her occluded vowels. There is a certain amount of drama in her delivery, but the more silvery voices work better in the role. Garanca is oddly pedestrian although her singing is lovely. The worst thing about the set is that the lovers are upstaged by their Tebaldo and despite some nasal honking here and there Calleja is superb.

    This opera has been well served on disc with a number of live recordings (including two with Pavarotti (as a tenor Romeo) and one with Simionato) and three studio ones. If I had to pick an overall winner I would probably go with the Runnicles, however I couldn't be without the Muti either. These two are essential for me.

    Runnicles.jpg

    Muti.jpg

    N.
    Last edited by The Conte; Apr-18-2019 at 18:26.

  7. Likes DarkAngel liked this post
  8. #20
    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Next to Detroit, Michigan
    Posts
    12,198
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Sills/Baker/Gedda - Patane
    Ricciarelli/Montague/Raffanti - Campanella
    Gruberova/Baltsa/Raffanti - Muti
    Hong/Larmore/Groves - Runnicles
    Mei/Kasarova/Vargas - Abbado (Roberto)
    Netrebko/Garanca/Calleja - Luisi
    I have 4 or 5 of these sets and by far, the Kasarova set is my favorite.
    "All of Italian opera can be heard in [Bellini's] "Ah! non creda [mirarti]."
    --Renata Scotto in "Scotto, More Than a DIva."

  9. #21
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    5,159
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by The Conte View Post

    The Sills/Baker set was the first studio recording of the opera I believe and it is a disappointment. Neither Sills or Baker is suited to Bellini and I would go so far to say that neither was suited to bel canto. That said there voices blend together nicely, but I feel they lack the texture to sing 19th century Italian repertoire and the cool delivery of the music doesn't sound Bellinian to my sensibilities. Baker had already sung Smeton in Anna Bolena at Carnegie Hall and the live recording of that opera reveals that she could deliver in bel canto, but unfortunately that isn't the case with this Romeo. The two would have made a better Susanna/Cherubino or Sophie/Octavian pairing. Gedda sings with refined taste as per usual, but I am not a fan of his voice per se.


    N.
    I am in complete disagreement with you about the Patané recording. I don't usually like Sills, but think this one of her most successful recordings. Though the voice was much too light for Norma and the Donizetti Tudor queens, I think it suited Giulietta perfectly. She is a little past her best, and, as ever, the voice is a little shallow, but she is always a musical and intelligent singer. I think her Giulietta is just fine.

    I also think Baker makes a splendid Romeo. Her phrasing, musicality and intelligence are, as usual, exemplary, her command of florid technique understatedly superb, and her dramatic conception just right. Aside from Smeton, she also had a huge success as Maria Stuarda, albeit in English. Fortunately her portrayal has been captured both on record (there are recordings of her performances both from 1973 and the revival in 1982, and on video (from 1982). Her Mary is incomparable, and I prefer it to all the others I have heard.

    Coincidentally, I have just been watching a new BBC documentary called Janet Baker in her own words, in which she gives one of her rare interviews, which is interspersed with comments by other musicians - André Previn, Raymond Leppard, Felicity Lott, Jane Glover and Joyce DiDonato. One of the best segments is of DiDonato listening to and wondering at Baker's superb musicianship, her fabulous breath control and the wonderful way she shapes the music.
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Apr-18-2019 at 22:46.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

  10. Likes DarkAngel liked this post
  11. #22
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    London UK
    Posts
    2,170
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz Kobus View Post
    I have 4 or 5 of these sets and by far, the Kasarova set is my favorite.
    That's understandable, it has an air of impeccable perfection about it and is a good example of a performance that focuses on the opera as a musical composition rather than a piece of theatre. There are only 3 studio recordings and this is one of the two in digital sound and the sound is superb. It's also the most classical in style of the recordings - Bellini for Mozart fans.

    N.

  12. Likes Fritz Kobus liked this post
  13. #23
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    London UK
    Posts
    2,170
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post
    I am in complete disagreement with you about the Patané recording. I don't usually like Sills, but think this one of her most successful recordings. Though the voice was much too light for Norma and the Donizetti Tudor queens, I think it suited Giulietta perfectly. She is a little past her best, and, as ever, the voice is a little shallow, but she is always a musical and intelligent singer. I think her Giulietta is just fine.

    I also think Baker makes a splendid Romeo. Her phrasing, musicality and intelligence are, as usual, exemplary, her command of florid technique understatedly superb, and her dramatic conception just right. Aside from Smeton, she also had a huge success as Maria Stuarda, albeit in English. Fortunately her portrayal has been captured both on record (there are recordings of her performances both from 1973 and the revival in 1982, and on video (from 1982). Her Mary is incomparable, and I prefer it to all the others I have heard.
    Janet Baker was a supreme artist, but I will leave how I feel about her singing in general for other threads and concentrate on her bel canto roles here.

    I am familiar with Baker's Maria Stuarda, although I haven't heard the recording from 1973, hopefully it is on YouTube. One reason I'm not keen on Baker's Maria is that it is in English rather than Italian (much the same could be said of Sills' Giulietta!) The line of the music is sadly compromised by the use of a language that doesn't easily allow for the long, legato phrases which the opera's vocal writing demands. However, even putting that aside, I still don't feel that Baker suits bel canto (perhaps Smeton works because it was earlier in her career and sits lower - not that there is a problem with Baker's high notes in anything she sang, far from it). I prefer a meatier approach to Stuarda and Caballe is my favourite interpreter of the role.

    I agree with you that Sills sounds right for Giulietta vocally, but apart from the linguistic problems already alluded to she isn't right for it from the point of view of musicality and style. Whilst Baker, at least, sings with taste (I wouldn't have expected anything else) her concentration on the text over and above the music at all times doesn't suit the aesthetics of bel canto. Whilst Baker's voice was an exquisitely beautiful instrument, she was never about making beautiful sounds for the sake of it. Bel canto is about more than beautiful singing, but there are moments when the text has very little importance and the music is the main focus of the writing.

    The common denominator of pretty much every Italian nineteenth century opera is passion and for all of Baker's gifts, that's not one that I associate with her, taste, style, intelligence, technical perfection, attention to the text, emotion and feeling even, but not passion. She also sounds incredibly stretched by Bellini's music and I prefer the meatier, more masculine Romeos of Baltsa, Larmore and Kasarova.

    The Sills/Baker recording isn't a disaster, it's a good one, however with so much competition, it has been outclassed by both studio and live versions since.

    N.

  14. Likes Fritz Kobus, DarkAngel liked this post
  15. #24
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    5,159
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by The Conte View Post
    Janet Baker was a supreme artist, but I will leave how I feel about her singing in general for other threads and concentrate on her bel canto roles here.

    I am familiar with Baker's Maria Stuarda, although I haven't heard the recording from 1973, hopefully it is on YouTube. One reason I'm not keen on Baker's Maria is that it is in English rather than Italian (much the same could be said of Sills' Giulietta!) The line of the music is sadly compromised by the use of a language that doesn't easily allow for the long, legato phrases which the opera's vocal writing demands. However, even putting that aside, I still don't feel that Baker suits bel canto (perhaps Smeton works because it was earlier in her career and sits lower - not that there is a problem with Baker's high notes in anything she sang, far from it). I prefer a meatier approach to Stuarda and Caballe is my favourite interpreter of the role.

    I agree with you that Sills sounds right for Giulietta vocally, but apart from the linguistic problems already alluded to she isn't right for it from the point of view of musicality and style. Whilst Baker, at least, sings with taste (I wouldn't have expected anything else) her concentration on the text over and above the music at all times doesn't suit the aesthetics of bel canto. Whilst Baker's voice was an exquisitely beautiful instrument, she was never about making beautiful sounds for the sake of it. Bel canto is about more than beautiful singing, but there are moments when the text has very little importance and the music is the main focus of the writing.

    The common denominator of pretty much every Italian nineteenth century opera is passion and for all of Baker's gifts, that's not one that I associate with her, taste, style, intelligence, technical perfection, attention to the text, emotion and feeling even, but not passion. She also sounds incredibly stretched by Bellini's music and I prefer the meatier, more masculine Romeos of Baltsa, Larmore and Kasarova.

    The Sills/Baker recording isn't a disaster, it's a good one, however with so much competition, it has been outclassed by both studio and live versions since.

    N.
    I'm a bit bemused by this post. The Baker/Sills recording of I Capuleti e i Montecchiis in Italian, so, whatever you think of opera in translation, language isn't a problem here, particularly as both ladies articulate the text a good deal better than many others in this repertoire. Stating that Baker always put text before music is tantamout to saying she lacked musciality, when the reverse is certainly true. Whilst she did give the text due importance ,she is one of the most musical of singers , capable of assimilating a wide range of different styles.

    The BBC recently showed a long interview with Baker, interspersed with comments by colleagues. One of the most revealing segments was when Joyce DiDonato listened to and analysed Baker's singing. In this instance, she was listening to her Purcell Dido, but I've seen her do it with Maria Stuarda as well. Baker is evidently one of DiDonato's formative influences, but I'd aver Baker has the more individual sound.

    As for Sills, she has never been one of my favourite singers, but that's more because I find the voice a bit shallow for many of the roles she sang. I have always appreciated her intelligence and musicality, and, as Giulietta needs a lighter voice than the Tudor queens, it suits her well. Sills made a great deal of her career singing bel canto roles so it is strange that you should find fault with her musicality and style.

    Incidentally, I too like Caballé in the role of Maria Stuarda, but Baker remains my favourite
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Apr-20-2019 at 17:18.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

  16. #25
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    London UK
    Posts
    2,170
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post
    I'm a bit bemused by this post. The Baker/Sills recording of I Capuleti e i Montecchiis in Italian, so, whatever you think of opera in translation, language isn't a problem here, particularly as both ladies articulate the text a good deal better than many others in this repertoire. Stating that Baker always put text before music is tantamout to saying she lacked musciality, when the reverse is certainly true. Whilst she did give the text due importance ,she is one of the most musical of singers , capable of assimilating a wide range of different styles.

    The BBC recently showed a long interview with Baker, interspersed with comments by colleagues. One of the most revealing segments was when Joyce DiDonato listened to and analysed Baker's singing. In this instance, she was listening to her Purcell Dido, but I've seen her do it with Maria Stuarda as well. Baker is evidently one of DiDonato's formative influences, but I'd aver Baker has the more individual sound.

    As for Sills, she has never been one of my favourite singers, but that's more because I find the voice a bit shallow for many of the roles she sang. I have always appreciated her intelligence and musicality, and, as Giulietta needs a lighter voice than the Tudor queens, it suits her well. Sills made a great deal of her career singing bel canto roles so it is strange that you should find fault with her musicality and style.

    Incidentally, I too like Caballé in the role of Maria Stuarda, but Baker remains my favourite
    Nevermind (it was a dig at Sills' Italian, which isn't great). Please note, my comments about Baker are not about her singing in general, but very much about her in the role of Romeo. I think she was a singer that suited some repertoire more than others (like most singers, though) and when it worked, it certainly worked wonderfully well.

    When I write that she puts the text over and above the music I don't in any way mean that she isn't musical, she most certainly was. However, one of her unique selling points is that she pays more attention to the text than most other singers. That's a good thing, however that approach works better in some repertoire rather than others and it is less suitable in Bellini. There are some moments that are almost purely musical, but Baker was never an artist who was about making a beautiful sound and using the words merely as a device (whereas Callas recognised that in some places the music has more importance and in others the words). Both of them at their best combine both the music and the words to produce something that can only be termed artistry, but Baker never started with the music as it were. This is evident if you compare Callas' singing of 'Ah, non giunge' with Baker's 'La tremenda ultrice spada'.

    N.

  17. #26
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    London UK
    Posts
    2,170
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    We haven't had a Bellini review for a while and now it's time for the first of the big three (Sonnambula, Norma and Puritani).

    There have been over twenty recordings of La Sonnambula on CD and I really can't bring myself to review them all! I have considered the eight best known of them. Fritz Kobus on the other hand probably has (or has listened to) every single available set. If there is a good Sonnambula I have missed, let me know and I will listen to it if I can find it online and report my opinion here.

    When it comes to recordings of Bellini operas my first question is, did Callas record it and if not did Caballe or Sutherland? I then look to other sopranos if there isn't a recording with one of these three divas in. Callas performed (and recorded) four Bellini roles (Norma, Pirata, Puritani and Sonnambula) and she is without equal in all those four roles. Caballe gave us a studio Pirata to complement Callas' live set and also performed Straniera, Norma and Puritani. Sutherland also performed four, but it was Beatrice di Tenda rather than Pirata that she took on and recorded in the studio. We also have wonderful complete versions of Sonnambula, Norma and Puritani from Sutherland in the studio to complement Callas' recordings that were performed with cuts (profuse in Puritani, less drastic in Norma). We therefore have six out of Bellini's operas recorded by these divas and the other four operas have already been reviewed with two being recorded superbly by Opera Rara and two still in need of a definitive recording.

    Bellini composed La Sonnambula for the same soprano that he would later write Norma for - Giuditta Pasta and I prefer a heavier voice than that which we are used to hearing today. I therefore don't see any need to look beyond the clutch of recordings both in the studio and live that we have been left by Callas and Sutherland, however I will start with some of the other contenders and then review Callas and Sutherland.

    N.
    Last edited by The Conte; May-12-2019 at 12:02.

  18. Likes Tsaraslondon liked this post
  19. #27
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    London UK
    Posts
    2,170
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Sonnambula - Pagliughi.jpg

    The first studio recording of the opera came out on Cetra in 1952 and like most of the recordings on that label feature Italian artists in Italian repertoire showcasing the talent of the day. Some of these recordings were RAI radio productions and are an invaluable record of a performing style that has been all but lost. You may find an unsophisticated copy of this style remains in some small provincial theatres in Italy, but the idiosyncrasies of this style (for both the good and bad) are pretty much lost. These Cetra releases (most recently available on Warner) are at their best when featuring singers that would go on to become stars (Callas, Corelli, Simionato and Tebaldi - Corelli's Aida is a favourite) I've thought it a shame that Magda Olivero didn't record more for them despite her leaving us an excellent Liu and a clutch of arias.

    In this Sonnambula we get a superb Elvino from Tagliavini (a fine tenore di grazia or light, lyric tenor) and a warm voiced Siepi as Conte Rodolfo. However, a recording of Sonnambula stands or falls on its Amina and here Pagliughi is typical of the light voices that performed much bel canto at the time including Lucia di Lammermoor. (Pagliughi's set was also recorded by Cetra as was her Gilda and these were not only the reference recordings of these three operas, but were considered still to be so even when Callas' recordings were issued. The Callas sets are now rightly considered superior - not least because the Lucia and Rigoletto also star Di Stefano and Gobbi - and are not only still in the catalogue but in addition Warner considered it worth going back to the original tapes to remaster them in 2014.)

    Pagliughi's Amina is heard best as an example of how revolutionary Callas was when she burst on the Italian scene in the early 50s. Cetra recorded Callas' La Gioconda in the same year this Sonnambula was made and yet three years later she performed Amina at La Scala, a performance that affirmed her position as queen of that institution. That said this is a worthy recording to have in a collection if not the best that is available on disc. The style and authentic pathos brought by the three principals make this more than a historical document of interest even if that is its chief attraction. Not essential then, but well worth acquiring.


    Sonnambula - Bartoli.jpg

    I move from the first recording of the opera to what is probably the most recent. Whilst the Cetra set preserves a performing tradition that has now been lost, this set takes the radical path of presenting us with a completely new way of interpreting the work: a period performance on instruments of Bellini's time and with a light mezzo in order to forge a link with early 19th century performances by Maria Malibran. Having read descriptions of Malibran I doubt she sounded like Bartoli, but at least she is imitating a different Maria than many bel canto sopranos of the last fifty years! I like Bartoli, especially in Mozart and Handel and I find this a fascinating experiment, there isn't a more lyrical assay of the piece than this. However I am not completely convinced that this is authentic in the sense that it's how the opera was performed in the decade after it was composed or that it was what 'the composer would have wanted'. Nor do I think that it necessarily isn't so. The fact of the matter is that we shall never know.

    I like all of the principals here with Florez the prime asset of the recording. Bartoli convinces me too and the experiment is successful producing a valid, if different take on the opera. It lacks a sense of performance and feels more like a concert version in sound rather than a staged drama though. On the other hand it is well worth having if you are obsessed with the work or are a fan of any of the three principals.


    Sonnambula - Dessay.jpg

    I like Pido' and Dessay was considered THE Amina for a short while at the beginning of this century, however I can't recommend this set. Dessay is a poor man's Pagliughi and offers a plainly sung Amina with little character, this is warbling, not the heart rending story of a flesh and blood woman. Colombara is ok, but Meli isn't right for Elvino. Nasal whining replaces the graceful production of a Bellinian line of song and he squawks on some of his high notes. I can't see any place for this set in a collection.

    N.
    Last edited by The Conte; May-12-2019 at 12:57.

  20. Likes Woodduck liked this post
  21. #28
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    London UK
    Posts
    2,170
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    By the way, did I mention that Callas both performed this role live and recorded it in the studio? Ha!

    Sonnambula - CallasS.jpg

    Let's start with Callas' studio recording. Callas presents us with a big voiced Amina (although she expertly scales down her voice to match the naive Swiss village maiden that is this character). This set was possibly recorded a little late (by 1957 the wear and tear in the voice was beginning to show) and I am not keen on Monti due to his rather thin voice. Both Tagliavini and Florez are far superior (although Pavarotti on Sutherland's second studio set is hard to beat). Zaccaria is a fine Rodolfo and more than adequate, but Eugenia Ratti is an annoying, screechy Lisa. The main downside to this set is that Votto was a routinier and for me that ruins all his recordings of this opera. That said this set is indispensable as it presents Callas in the role of Amina in the best sound.

    There are a further five live recordings of Callas in the role, with the 'Cologne Sonnambula' being considered by many to be her best. Four of these recordings come from 1957 (the same year as the studio recording), feature much of the same cast and are conducted by the lacklustre Votto - Cologne has a different (and slightly better) Lisa, though. These are all available on Divina Records:

    https://www.divinarecords.com/index.html


    Sonnambula - CallasL.jpg

    The fifth of Callas' live recordings comes from her debut in the role at La Scala in 1955 and is conducted by Leonard Bernstein. There is also the much more musical Cesare Valletti (a musician as well as singer) as Elvino and Giuseppe Modesti is as fine a Rodolfo as Zaccaria. Callas is in much fresher voice here and attempts a number of vocal acrobatics that she would later do away with. Whereas the Cologne Sonnambula is possibly the best of Callas' 1957 performances of the role, the studio recording is a reliable document of that later version of the role in the best sound. Callas' earlier conception of the role is quite different, her colleagues are superior and the conducting has more vim and appeal than Votto's staid approach. If I were packing my trunk for that desert island and only had room for one Sonnambula, then this would be the one going in. There is no more pathos soaked 'Ah, non credea mirarti' than that sung here - not even by Callas herself. The sound could be better, but is more than listenable to on the latest Warner remaster, which is better than the previous releases by EMI or Myto. This is not just essential Sonnambula, but essential opera.

    N.
    Last edited by The Conte; May-12-2019 at 13:42.

  22. Likes Tsaraslondon, Woodduck, niknik liked this post
  23. #29
    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Next to Detroit, Michigan
    Posts
    12,198
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    My rankings of La Sonnambula recordings is biased by my unconventional way of ranking which lies more heavily on certain voices and sound quality, which generally leaves Callas out of the top running because of sound quality alone. Based on my color coding in my folders I have these broken into three groups (Listed by Aminas):

    Orgonasova (NAXOS)--This is my absolute favorite and part of my attraction is Luba Orgonasova whose voice reminds me of Ana Durlovsky's Amina on DVD.

    FAVORITES: (not in order of preference)
    Orgonasova
    Gruberova
    Moffo
    Sutherland 1963 MET

    NEXT FAVORITE: (not in order of preference)
    Aliberti
    Callas Edinburgh
    Callas Studio 1957
    Devia
    Scotto 1971
    Sutherland 1960
    Valaskova

    LOWEST TIER: (not in order of dis--preference)
    Sonnambula Anderson (ruined by too much reverb on recording)
    Bartoli (voice just wrong for Amina)
    Callas 1955 live
    Callas 1957 live
    Carosio (probably a great recording but sound is in a tiny little box)
    Ciofi
    Dessay
    Lind
    Pagliughi (sound quality is the issue for me here)
    Scotto 1961
    Scotto 1972
    Sutherland 1961
    Sutherland 1962
    Sutherland 1980
    __________________________________________________ _______

    Wow, can you believe there are five recordings of Sonnambula featuring Sutherland?
    Last edited by Fritz Kobus; May-12-2019 at 14:26.
    "All of Italian opera can be heard in [Bellini's] "Ah! non creda [mirarti]."
    --Renata Scotto in "Scotto, More Than a DIva."

  24. Likes The Conte liked this post
  25. #30
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    London UK
    Posts
    2,170
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Callas' big voiced Sonnambula opened the way for Sutherland to take on the role. She sang it as often if not more than Callas and there are a number of live performances available. There are also two studio recordings which I will consider here.

    Sonnambula - Sutherland I.jpg

    Sutherland is in fresher voice here than in her second recording and if you have an intolerance for late Sutherland this is probably the studio recording for you. Corena is a vibrant Rodolfo, however Elvino is Monti who I found under par in the Callas set. This is a completely complete recording of the opera (unlike the Callas versions that sadly have cuts here and there and even Sutherland's second studio set that has a small cut involving the chorus at the very end of the opera). Whilst this set has much to recommend it, I can't get on with Monti's Elvino.


    Sonnambula - Sutherland II.jpg

    Sutherland is past her best here, however what she lacks in freshness and suppleness of voice she makes up for to some degree in her touching portrayal of Bellini's heroine and she is still second to Callas (a compliment, by the way). Pavarotti is a fine, full voiced Elvino and we should remind ourselves that it was not only the first Amina (Pasta) that was what we would term a dramatic soprano today, but also the first Elvino (Rubini) must have had a voice of considerable robust size to sing the music composed for him. Ghiaurov's slavic pronunciation won't be to everybody's taste, but I find him an interesting Rodolfo and there is some superb singing here from all three. I also like Isobel Buchanan as Lisa and this is the best (very near) complete all round Sonnambula with modern studio sound. It's a worthy companion to the Bernstein/Callas recording and the Bartoli/Florez with their widely different approaches to one of Bellini's finest scores.

    N.

  26. Likes Tsaraslondon, Woodduck, niknik liked this post
Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Bellini on DVD and Blu-ray
    By jhar26 in forum Opera on DVD, Blu-ray and CD
    Replies: 55
    Last Post: Aug-22-2018, 05:52
  2. Vincenzo Salvatore Carmelo Francesco Bellini
    By Aramis in forum Composer Guestbooks
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: Feb-12-2018, 23:34
  3. Replies: 14
    Last Post: Oct-21-2011, 22:35

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •