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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Self-explanatory.

Just so you know where I'm coming from, with Martinelli and Bjorling he is my favorite tenor and he NEVER made a bad recording or performance. Just listening to one of my favorite recordings "I love to hate", Ballo under Solti, and he is sublime even if I don't like the recording for multiple reasons.
 

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I wouldn't place Bergonzi amongst my absolute favourite tenors, but he is a most musical singer. I sometimes feel he is a bit lacking in real tenor thrills, but that may be because I only know him from the few recordings I have or have heard.

He sings most beautifully on Karajan's Aida and Cav & Pag, but there are others I find more exciting, and in any case I find all three recordings just a little too self-consciously beautiful (not Bergonzi's fault). I prefer Karajan's 1950s opera recordings and also some of his later ones, like the second EMI Aida.

He has made some excellent Verdi recordings though and high on the list would be the Moffo Luisa Miller, the Price Ernani, the Gardelli La Forza del Destino and his contributions to the Philips early Verdi series, I Lombardi, Attila, I Masnadieri and the Orfeo Oberto.

Some would no doubt also include the Serafin/Tebaldi recordings of La Boheme and Madama Butterfly, but I'm afraid I can't take to Tebaldi in either role. (She sounds too mature for my taste.)

I rather like his Cavaradossi on the second Callas Tosca, but Di Stefano, in his best voice, is more characterful on the first, which, in any case, has Callas in supreme voice and is much better conducted by De Sabata than Prêtre.

I'm sure others will have favourites I haven't mentioned.
 

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Not really my kind of tenor. A good voice if without proper squillo but too sedate in temperment, too polite for me. I don't mind him in some roles but with any that require a bit of drama and bite I wouldn't look for him above others.
 

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Not really my kind of tenor. A good voice if without proper squillo but too sedate in temperment, too polite for me. I don't mind him in some roles but with any that require a bit of drama and bite I wouldn't look for him above others.
If this is sedate, I can at least say that there were alot of people at the Verona arena that night with a differing mind! And of course "differing mind" is the idea, but I just wanted to point out. And this kind of role is not his meat and potatoes!

 

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You've got a fellow club member here. Carlo Bergonzi is my favorite performing artist of any kind...ever! And that is not meant as any kind of "I like Carlo better than you..." ;) You just got my guy.

Lucia...pick any of them! His Alfredo changed second time around but the changes in his Edgardo are very slight. The one I go to all the time is the video from Japan.To these ears, the Fra Poco a me Ricovero is close to perfect!

Una Furtiva Lagrima.....video again. Full bodied, spontaneous and invested , line by line.

Don Carlo...didn't sing it in the house much but if you want the combination of virile and sensitive and beautiful...Don Carlo.

There are alot of great Rodolfos but he is one!

Do you like Bergonzi on the Solti Ballo more than Leinsdorf?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
That's it I'll meet you outside so we can settle this like men!

I diverge.

Ironically Tsaraslondon I agree with every one of your criticisms (not of Bergonzi).

I always find Americans amusing who insist Callas's Desabata Tosca is the superior one, the French insist it is the Pretre one. That is a great performance by Bergonzi. The Aida, La Boheme and Butterfly recordings are great performances as well, but I dislike each of these recordings like you do. I just do not enjoy the distant miking of the Aida, I am sorry. I agree that Tebaldi is too "fat" in the Butterfly and lacks subtlety. La Boheme also has this distant miking that I hate typical of Decca, and as you point out Tebaldi is hard to accept as a dying heroine.

I love Bergonzi in Ballo (both recordings), but the comparison in sound between the two is amazing, the RCA one is much more effective, the Solti Ballo is again too distant. I don't get it. People don't even sound this way in the opera house in person.

I don't think Bergonzi ever made a bad recording, though his voice did dry with age thats true. I saw him in person many times and I found him PLENTY exciting. Of course maybe what excites me doesn't excite you.

I probably need to re-listen to his Trovatore, for some reason I never spent much time on it though it has an excellent cast and Bergonzi is brilliant as usual. Maybe this morning.

In terms of the Aida I think the famous live performance from the Met with him and Price captures him much better. I adore the Pretre Tosca. The Leinsdorf Ballo is a classic. The Luisa Miller is (to me) the greatest recording of that opera and I have listened to them all and they are all enjoyable (including the one with Lauri-Volpi, or the live one with Tucker). But Bergonzi is over the top perfect and so is his cast.

I hope my reply wasn't too chaotic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ok I re-listened to the Trovatore recording. Great cast but I guess the conducting just isn't exciting enough, and though Stella is very good she can't compare with competitors like Callas or Milanov. That's my personal reaction.
 

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That's it I'll meet you outside so we can settle this like men!

I diverge.

Ironically Tsaraslondon I agree with every one of your criticisms (not of Bergonzi).

I always find Americans amusing who insist Callas's Desabata Tosca is the superior one, the French insist it is the Pretre one. That is a great performance by Bergonzi. The Aida, La Boheme and Butterfly recordings are great performances as well, but I dislike each of these recordings like you do. I just do not enjoy the distant miking of the Aida, I am sorry. I agree that Tebaldi is too "fat" in the Butterfly and lacks subtlety. La Boheme also has this distant miking that I hate typical of Decca, and as you point out Tebaldi is hard to accept as a dying heroine.

I love Bergonzi in Ballo (both recordings), but the comparison in sound between the two is amazing, the RCA one is much more effective, the Solti Ballo is again too distant. I don't get it. People don't even sound this way in the opera house in person.

I don't think Bergonzi ever made a bad recording, though his voice did dry with age thats true. I saw him in person many times and I found him PLENTY exciting. Of course maybe what excites me doesn't excite you.

I probably need to re-listen to his Trovatore, for some reason I never spent much time on it though it has an excellent cast and Bergonzi is brilliant as usual. Maybe this morning.

In terms of the Aida I think the famous live performance from the Met with him and Price captures him much better. I adore the Pretre Tosca. The Leinsdorf Ballo is a classic. The Luisa Miller is (to me) the greatest recording of that opera and I have listened to them all and they are all enjoyable (including the one with Lauri-Volpi, or the live one with Tucker). But Bergonzi is over the top perfect and so is his cast.

I hope my reply wasn't too chaotic.
"You talkin' to me??"...actually you were talking to two of us.

I've felt for some time that RCA had the ideal sound. Decca and Deutsche go for lush and EMI has, to my ear, a flat sound( not pitch) on Bergonzi's recordings but the Forza is a stand out none-the-less. RCA is clear, undramatic sound.

Live performances abound and are wonderful again and again. The Price, Solti Aida is probably my favorite but he has one with Arroyo and a soprano whose name I don't recognize and both sound definitely superior to the Decca. Also, Bergonzi improved his voice his entire career long, the evenness of the sound and the resonance. Everyone complains about squillo but its not a cut and dry thing. There is a lot more buzz on the voice in those live 1960's performances and RCA recordings than in the early Decca stuff. Of course he's not Corelli and Delmonaco but how did they sound as Nemorino and Alfredo? It's a different type of voice!

The Tebaldi Mimi is anything but a problem to me. She may be mature sounding but she knows how Mimi goes, to me , like no one else. The voice I think he sounds best with is Caballe. Trovatore is a wonderful opera for him if people don' think the opera begins and ends with Di Quella Pira. Ah si Ben Mio and Ai Nostri Monti could have been written for Bergonzis voice. The Martini/Rossi (get that right?) recital has the most delicious Ah Si Ben Mio of all....with young Bjoerling.

And even though the voice got dry in the opera house in the late 80's - he turned 60 in "84 for crying out loud - it still sounded like gold in the recital hall and sounded great in the house in "83 for Ballo!. I agree that he generated plenty of excitement live, he had an adoring public! He just had to stay away fom high notes later on!
 

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and his contributions to the Philips early Verdi series, I Lombardi, Attila, I Masnadieri and the Orfeo Oberto.
As per usual, I agree with your comments on Bergonzi in the main. However, I can't help pointing out that the Philips I Lombardi doesn't feature Bergonzi, but the main tenor part is taken by Domingo.

I would agree with the OP that Bergonzi never made a bad recording, but I'm afraid I find his singing overly refined and he lacks excitement. If I had to choose a favourite, it would be his Aida with Price from the Met, where he is much more involved than in his studio recording. I would probably go with his Ernani (again with Price) as his best studio recording.

N.
 

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As per usual, I agree with your comments on Bergonzi in the main. However, I can't help pointing out that the Philips I Lombardi doesn't feature Bergonzi, but the main tenor part is taken by Domingo.

I would agree with the OP that Bergonzi never made a bad recording, but I'm afraid I find his singing overly refined and he lacks excitement. If I had to choose a favourite, it would be his Aida with Price from the Met, where he is much more involved than in his studio recording. I would probably go with his Ernani (again with Price) as his best studio recording.

N.
Yes, you're right. Easy to get those early Verdis mixed up. I should have checked.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I'm sorry to be tendentious but at least part of your perception of Bergonzi's performance in tose Aida recordings is based on his distance from the mikes, that distant Decca miking is death to an expressive singer like Bergonzi.
 

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I would agree with the OP that Bergonzi never made a bad recording, but I'm afraid I find his singing overly refined and he lacks excitement.N.
I'd buy "What for you creates vocal excitement?" as a thread!

For me, I've long ago recognized that a very active alternation between declamation and legato, keeps my mind from wandering! This is what I always want more of in Corelli. This is how beauty and drama live in the same song. Sensitivity in dramatic material and firmness in lyrical material hold me. Martinelli, Bergonzi, Caruso...I hear them do it again and again.
 

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I'd buy "What for you creates vocal excitement?" as a thread!

For me, I've long ago recognized that a very active alternation between declamation and legato, keeps my mind from wandering! This is what I always want more of in Corelli. This is how beauty and drama live in the same song. Sensitivity in dramatic material and firmness in lyrical material hold me. Martinelli, Bergonzi, Caruso...I hear them do it again and again.
I would say that there is nothing specific I would fault Bergonzi with, more that he just has a good feel for the music but not so much feeling for the drama. It's his entire approach that just doesn't quite seem dramatically convincing rather than him not being declamative enough or anything like that.
 

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I would say that there is nothing specific I would fault Bergonzi with, more that he just has a good feel for the music but not so much feeling for the drama. It's his entire approach that just doesn't quite seem dramatically convincing rather than him not being declamative enough or anything like that.
The declamation and lyricism I mentioned ARE "his (entire) approach"! I put entire in parentheses because they aren't his entire approach, there's far more, but I was quoting you.

The "ergerti un trono" declaimed brilliantly followed by "vicinino al sol" in the smoothest piano - that he pulls off in his recital Celeste Aida, and never sang that well again, but to my mind neither did anyone else - IS his approach! As is being discussed over on the Opera as Drama thread, the drama is in the music!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
There are so many different things that can be exciting to me, not just one aspect or another. I'm turned on by fabulous diction for example, simply because it makes the libretto feel more meaningful, and the drama more real. I love lots of aspects of Bergonzi's singing but his sense of rhythm seemed so perfect for Verdi, bringing out a prominent aspect of his music (as opposed to in Wagner), and makes certain especially elegant roles sound so much better (such as Ballo or Luisa).

Obviously legato makes the melody seem SO much more beautiful. Bergonzi's greatness lied in part that he could combine perfect diction, legato, AND rhythm, that was the thing that made Verdi come alive for me.

I get the ping, high notes, etc, but these are just small parts of the roles, I can't really enjoy them witthout all the other elements. And at the extremes of my enjoyment, I get "excited".

Corelli was awesome, but lets take a famous role supposedly his fach, Manrico. He supplies the high notes of course. But his diction, rhythm and legato are just not very elegant, even under a taskmaster like Karajan. That's why I actually never really enjoy Corelli in Verdi, instead in Puccini or Giordano (for example), where a rhythmic sense is so much less important.

I just realized I have to clarify, I think many of Bergonzi's greatest assumptions were NOT from Verdi, so obviously he had a wealth of qualities he could deploy.
 

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There are so many different things that can be exciting to me, not just one aspect or another. I'm turned on by fabulous diction for example, simply because it makes the libretto feel more meaningful, and the drama more real. I love lots of aspects of Bergonzi's singing but his sense of rhythm seemed so perfect for Verdi, bringing out a prominent aspect of his music (as opposed to in Wagner), and makes certain especially elegant roles sound so much better (such as Ballo or Luisa).

Obviously legato makes the melody seem SO much more beautiful. Bergonzi's greatness lied in part that he could combine perfect diction, legato, AND rhythm, that was the thing that made Verdi come alive for me.

I get the ping, high notes, etc, but these are just small parts of the roles, I can't really enjoy them witthout all the other elements. And at the extremes of my enjoyment, I get "excited".

Corelli was awesome, but lets take a famous role supposedly his fach, Manrico. He supplies the high notes of course. But his diction, rhythm and legato are just not very elegant, even under a taskmaster like Karajan. That's why I actually never really enjoy Corelli in Verdi, instead in Puccini or Giordano (for example), where a rhythmic sense is so much less important.

I just realized I have to clarify, I think many of Bergonzi's greatest assumptions were NOT from Verdi, so obviously he had a wealth of qualities he could deploy.
I'm with you on it all!!!

Rhythm and words makes me think of the Del la Parola duet with Verret on the Luisa, smack in the middle of the voice without a high note in sight, and its just delicious! Words...the Macbeth aria from the complete as someone, not me, said "with such projection of the text" and man its true! The tragedy is all on the words. But Along with Alvaro and Riccardo I think Edgardo and Rodolfo are his greatest roles. I think he got the Verdi Tenor label after the complete arias box came out and in a way thank god because it saved him from being the tasteful tenor, Lord help help us! But if you asked me who his voice sounds perfect for I'd say Puccini.

I agree completely about high notes being over valued. When they deliver at the end of an important dramatic or musical statement they are important and at their best are exciting. But its the timing and build along with the note itself and I'm afraid I've found countless just okay high notes out of all-time great singers and rarely get chills. Bergonzi's end to the Nile scene with Price gives me chills!

Franco's great and of course I want to hear his Alvaro and Manrico...but better in a looser world than Verdi!
 
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