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Thread: Discussion: The 2020 Talk Classical Top Recommended Opera CDs and DVDs

  1. #286
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    Following on my voting for Bohème and again based on my discussions in other threads about Bohème, I prefer the Callas, Di Stefano, Votto recording. In spite of the fact that Callas did not sing the role on stage, her performance is amazingly musical. Phrases that are glossed over by many other singers mean a lot with her without sounding artificial to me. Di Stefano is a passionate Rodolfo and blends magnificently with Callas. They have real chemistry. My second choice is the first Tebaldi Decca, more spontaneous than the second and it sound to me like a real performance.

    On DVD, I am partial to the first Live from the Met telecast in 1977 with Pavarotti and Scotto. They both had chemistry in that performance, they made me care for both of them because they cared for one another. Scotto is a special singer to me. As an example, watch and listen to Ma quando vien lo sgelo starting at 3:08 -- note also Pavarotti's reaction -- and her return to "reality" at 4:08.
    As Rodolfo, Pavarotti is more engaged in the role like I have never seen him, in prime voice and musicality. I love this performance because without going over the top it has deep emotion and understanding which I find all the more touching.
    Last edited by VitellioScarpia; Jun-30-2020 at 00:07.

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  3. #287
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    For me there is no possible doubt that this DVD wins the crown. Shicoff and Cotrubas have a chemistry between them that is palpable. The sincerity of the singers who never overact, as in so many last act Bohemes, but rather show a true inner performance that is rare in opera.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttSAipywtHU

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  5. #288
    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    Spent the last half an hour interrupting my Haydn listenings to experience three Mi chiamamo Mimì by Callas, Tebaldi and Freni. Addictive. Goosebumps everytime.
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  6. #289
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    Quote Originally Posted by Granate View Post
    Spent the last half an hour interrupting my Haydn listenings to experience three Mi chiamamo Mimì by Callas, Tebaldi and Freni. Addictive. Goosebumps everytime.
    But who won? (And why no De los Angeles?)

    N.

  7. #290
    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    If you want, you are free to discuss your favourite Forzas del Destino. My taste for this opera relies more on the conducting than the singing, and that's why I really casted those two votes. I think I already made my points in this post long ago, and I wouldn't like things to get ugly again.

    Too bad to leave out the three great Tebaldi recordings and live performances (Santa Cecilia Decca 1955 with Del Monaco and F. M-P; Scala 1955 with Di Stefano and Votto; and Metropolitan 1960 with Tucker and Schippers, one or two performances after the death of Leonard Warren).
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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Granate and I have crossed swords on this before, but I think Callas's Leonora one of her greatest recordings, and one that is often underrated. And I am not alone.

    [She has] an unparalleled musical sensibility and imagination, subtle changes of tonal weight through the wonderfully shaped set-pieces, and a grasp of the musico-dramatic picture which is unique.
    Lord Harewood in Opera on Record.

    Hers is an electrifying performance, providing a focus for an opera normally regarded as diffuse. Though there are classic examples of Callas's raw tone on top ntes, they are insignificant next to the wealth of phrasing which sets a totally new and individual stamp on even the most familiar passages.
    Penguin Guide.

    As Leonora, Maria Callas sets before us in the first five minutes a figure of tragic dimensions. Her initial utterance Oh angoscia! is half weariness, and Ah, padre mio! reveals in a phrase her love for her father. At the end of her first aria. we have a complete outline of the character: lost, intrepid, addicted to a dream of love. In addition to this, she reveals, upon arrival at the monastery, an element of desperate spiritual solitude and a radiant simplicity of faith in La vergine degli angeli. In Act IV, Pace, pace sounds once again the note of unanswerable longing, and finally she dramatises the acceptance of the peace of death at the end. Of course, this is what Verdi put into his score, but how often do we hear it laid out so vividly, in all its mysterious complexity, in performance? There are, it should be said, a few wobbly top notes, but generally the voice is rich, steady, and infintely present.
    London Green in The Metropolitan Guide to Recorded Opera.

    [The role] requires a lot more vocal dexterity than it usually gets.

    Listen to the aria Me pellegrina ed orfana and note how Callas marks the semi-quaver rests at Ti lascia ahime whilst still maintaining her impeccable legato, observing the downward portamento on the word sorte, the whole phrase sung in a single sweep. As usual the music is rendered with uncanny accuracy, as it is when she brilliantly articulates dotted notes in the cabaletta of the following duet with Alvaro (only too noticeable when Tucker comes galumphing after her, aspirating and puffing in an attempt to keep up).

    But, as usual with Callas, she goes beyond accurate observation of the score to reveal the meaning behind the notes. Her very first words (oh angoscia) tell us of the conflict in Leonora’s heart, her voice suffused with melancholy. Other sopranos may have given us a more beautifully poised sustained pianissimo top Bb in Pace pace, or drawn a firmer line in La vergine degli angeli, and those for whom such vocal niceties are paramount should probably look elsewhere...

    Central to the role, and the opera, is the monastery scene, starting with the glorious Madre, pietosa vergine and finishing with La vergine degli angeli. This whole section, with Rossi-Lemeni a wonderfully sympathetic, if woolly-voiced Padre Guardiano, is a locus classicus of Callas’s art, her voice responsive to every conflicting emotion in Leonora’s heart, her darkly plangent tone absolutely perfect for the character. I doubt you will ever hear it more movingly or truthfully conveyed.
    My own blog.

    Admittedly the rest of the cast is not on her exalted level, but they are more than adequate. Tucker can be a bit lacrymose and tends to aspirate and puff, but there is the compensation of the voice itself, Rossi-Lemeni's tone is a bit woolly, but he is a dramatically involved Guardiano, Nicolai is fine as Preziosilla and there is a superb cameo from Renato Capecchi as Melitone. The most questionable element is Tagliabue's over-the-hill Carlo, but he is never less than adequate. Serafin's conducting is another element that I think has been severely underrated, dramatically incisive (just listen to those stabbing chords when Leonora is mortally wounded in the last act) and sweepingly lyrical in the best Italian tradition.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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  10. #292
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    I am also very partial to the Serafin, Callas recording of La Forza del Destino. Their partnership in this recording is amazing and the meaning they extract from every note, every comma is a pleasure. Callas is still holding to some of her fat voice (except for the less secure high notes) but a voice full of tears and desperation without sounding teary or weak. She was blazing with a desperate sound and Serafin supports her all the way. There are so many examples but listen how Serafin launches the "simple" accompaniment to Madre pietosa vergine at the beginning of the convent scene (Act 2, Scene 2); or how in Act 4, Scene 2 she cries at Che l'amo ancor in the Pace, pace. This is one of the operas that Callas and Serafin ruined for me as everyone else seems to come short to these two. Unfortunately for me, it was the first Forza I ever owned so I have put much work to enjoy others!

    My second CD choice is to bring attention to a hidden gem. This is Suliotis' live in San Carlo in early 1966 in prime voice and blazing with power and steadiness. This is the only live recording that fully shows the impact that she could make in the theater early on (by late 1966 her La Scala Nabucco was already showing some decline). She dominates the proceedings and it is FUN.

    For the DVD option, I love the Tebaldi, Corelli, Bastianini, Christoff, Dominguez RAI telecast. I don't care that the Guardiano looks funny, or that some of the staging moves, etc. etc. This is what great singing is all about, and Tebaldi is more engaged than in her estimable Decca recording. (It may surprise that an inveterate Callas admirer can also love and admire Tebaldi. I always did.) Everyone is magnificent.
    Last edited by VitellioScarpia; Yesterday at 16:50.

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  12. #293
    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    Yeah, I watched that Napoli production and acting then was kind of old fashioned Remembering Tebaldi affectedly touching her forehead with her hand in Act III, followed by such a caricaturesque Padre Guardiano by Boris Christoff, so minced compare to his huge voice...

    Singing is great to be honest.

    Rogerx often watches the Scala performance conducted by Giuseppe Patané and sung by Caballé, Carreras, Cappuccilli and Ghiaurov. What do you think of it? I've never watched it unfortunately.
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    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
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    callas's voice is still in decent shape for her EMI recording (minus a couple of painful notes) and i do enjoy her performance, but the 1958 tebaldi performance is very special--the most musical performance i've heard of the role.

    tebaldi's costars deliver a vastly better performance than callas's -- corelli+bastianini >>>>>>> tucker+taglaibue, and considering that the men have as many highlight moments and as much stage time as leonore--maybe more in alvaro's case--i consider the tenor/baritone performances to be equally important. in fact maybe my favorite bit of this opera is the act 4 duet, le minacce i fieri accenti. corelli/bastianini deliver what i think is the most beautiful version i've heard, although bergonzi/cappuccilli give them a run for their money on the 1969 gardelli recording.

    i've always found it odd that some people appear to judge opera recordings almost solely by the performance of the soprano--it is sort of justifiable in some very soprano-heavy operas like traviata i suppose, but i find it unhelpful for more heavily ensemble operas like forza or trovatore.

    forza is an odd opera--it contains some of verdi's most beautiful music and some of his worst, most tedious and banal and frankly embarrassing. i found it odd that this placed higher in the top 200 voting than rigoletto, trovatore, and ballo. and even though macbeth and simon are pretty uneven, i'd place them above forza as well.
    Last edited by howlingfantods; Yesterday at 17:53.

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  15. #295
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    Quote Originally Posted by howlingfantods View Post
    callas's voice is still in decent shape for her EMI recording (minus a couple of painful notes) and i do enjoy her performance, but the 1958 tebaldi performance is very special--the most musical performance i've heard of the role.

    tebaldi's costars deliver a vastly better performance than callas's -- corelli+bastianini >>>>>>> tucker+taglaibue, and considering that the men have as many highlight moments and as much stage time as leonore--maybe more in alvaro's case--i consider the tenor/baritone performances to be equally important. in fact maybe my favorite bit of this opera is the act 4 duet, le minacce i fieri accenti. corelli/bastianini deliver what i think is the most beautiful version i've heard, although bergonzi/cappuccilli give them a run for their money on the 1969 gardelli recording.

    i've always found it odd that some people appear to judge opera recordings almost solely by the performance of the soprano--it is sort of justifiable in some very soprano-heavy operas like traviata i suppose, but i find it unhelpful for more heavily ensemble operas like forza or trovatore.

    forza is an odd opera--it contains some of verdi's most beautiful music and some of his worst, most tedious and banal and frankly embarrassing. i found it odd that this placed higher in the top 200 voting than rigoletto, trovatore, and ballo. and even though macbeth and simon are pretty uneven, i'd place them above forza as well.
    All good observations, but for me La Forza centers around Leonora as the character driving whole story. The setting of events with Leonora in Act I, the failed escape, the dishonoring of the Calatrava house because her love for a mestizo, the curse that follows all of them till the end. Alvaro and Carlos become friends in Act 3 (the battle of Velletri) only to separate because of Carlo's discovery that he is his sister's lover. Her presence is everywhere in the opera (as it is the Marquis), even turning into Alvaro's redeemer in the finale in that fantastic trio that closes the opera. Thus, a remarkable Leonora lifts for me the whole opera even if the others are not in the same exalted state. Ergo, my preference for Callas' recording in spite of Tagliabue who is the weakest link. Just my $0.02. I need a blazing Leonora to lift the whole opera.

  16. #296
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    1. i think tebaldi in 58 is the equal of callas in 54, maybe better.
    2. being the character plot device that powers the opera doesn't mean that that character's casting is the most important. is the girl from Arles the most important casting in "L'Arlesienne"? (this is a joke obviously)

  17. #297
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    Quote Originally Posted by howlingfantods View Post
    1. i think tebaldi in 58 is the equal of callas in 54, maybe better.
    2. being the character plot device that powers the opera doesn't mean that that character's casting is the most important. is the girl from Arles the most important casting in "L'Arlesienne"? (this is a joke obviously)
    Good for you. Enjoy.

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