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I want a recording of Lucia di Lammermoor and I have a shortlist of: 1) the latest Gergiev at a good price on 7 Digital (H-Res download) or 2) Bonynge/Sutherland on Decca.

I know little about this opera so recommendations will be greatly welcomed.
 

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I used to listen to the above recommendations, but i found i wanted to listen to the WHOLE opera and those above are horrendously cut.
My recommendation is:
 

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I read somewhere that the weight loss did her voice no favours
It's funny how the myths somehow survive. There is no doubt the weight loss affected her voice, but it also changed her as an artist to quite an extent. There are all sorts of other theories of why her voice started to let her down so early, some physiological, some psychological, but many of her greatest performances were post weight loss. Her anus mirabilis was no doubt 1955 (she started dieting in 1953 and by the opening of the La Scala season of 1954 she was the svelte figure everyone recognises). 1955 is the year of the fabulous Visconti/Bernstein La Sonnambula, the Visconti/Giulini La Traviata, the Zeffirelli Il Turco in Italia, the Karajan/Berlin Lucia di Lammermoor, her arguably greatest ever performance of Norma at La Scala, with Del Monaco and Simionato, all of which are preserved in sound. She also made seminal studio recordings of Madama Butterfly with Karajan, and Rigoletto and Aida with Serafin and sang in Chicago for a fabulously successful second season. Her roles were Butterfly, Elvira in I Puritani and Leonora in Il Trovatore with Jussi Bjoerling, whch unfortunately was not recorded.

From 1955 onwards there is a slight tailing off, but there are still some magnificent performances ahead of her. The live Anna Bolena and Un Ballo in Maschera of 1957, the Dallas Medea and the Covent Garden La Traviata of 1958 (arguably her greatest performance in the role), studio recordings of Il Trovatore, La Boheme, La Gioconda, her second Norma, Carmen and recital records, such as Mad Scenes, Verdi Heroines and the first French recital.

The first studio recording of Lucia di Lammermoor was actually her first studio recording for EMI, recorded in 1953 and thus not ony before the weight loss, but also when she was at her heaviest. She is in fabulous voice, but so she is in Berlin in 1955, when Karajan includes a bit more of the score, though it is still cut. That said, this is one of those performances that has rightly earned the epithet legendary. Happily it is also sonically one of her best live recordings (the Warner transfer might not be the last word, but it is easily good enough) and anyone who loves, or wants to hear this opera, should hear it.



There is a detailed review of it on my blog http://tsaraslondon.com/2018/01/13/lucia-di-lammermoor-berlin-1955/.

In any case, anyone who wants to hear this opera, should make sure they listen to the twin peaks of Callas and Sutherland. My preference for Sutherland is her debut in the role at Covent Garden in 1959 under Serafin, but others would no doubt disagree and pick one of her two studio recordings.

Elsewhere on my blog I have also reviewed both Callas's studio recordings. The later one, from 1959, though it enjoys the best sound (recorded in stereo in Kingsway Hall with the Philharmonia), is perhaps only for those who have already capitulated to Callas. It cannot be denied that the top of the voice is seriously compromised here, but the filigree of the role is still exquisite.
 

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For me personally, unbeatable.
This is the one. La Stupenda at her most thrilling. And I don't even like bel canto!:lol:
 
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This is the one. La Stupenda at her most thrilling. And I don't even like bel canto!:lol:
But also, unfortunately, the mushy diction and droopy portamenti have already started to take over. Admittedly this bothers most people much less than it bothers me. The coloratura is dazzling and the top register stunningly beautiful, so you need to decide what is more important to you.

There is a world of difference between this and the live Covent Garden performance of 1959, which was conducted by Serafin. Here the voice is much more forwardly produced, the words much clearer and consequantly the performance is much more dramatic.
 

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But also, unfortunately, the mushy diction and droopy portamenti have already started to take over. Admittedly this bothers most people much less than it bothers me. The coloratura is dazzling and the top register stunningly beautiful, so you need to decide what is more important to you.

There is a world of difference between this and the live Covent Garden performance of 1959, which was conducted by Serafin. Here the voice is much more forwardly produced, the words much clearer and consequantly the performance is much more dramatic.
I see opera Depot have the '59 Covent Garden set for about £6. Consider it downloaded!:)
 

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My standard recommendation would be Callas/di Stefano/Gobbi with Serafin or Sutherland/Pavarotti/Milnes with Bonynge.

A recording I wish would appear complete in some official form is Guglielmi/Aragall/Saccomani with Abbado at La Scala in 1969.

Guglielmi is an attractive lighter-voiced-Lucia than Callas or Sutherland and Aragall is a pretty terrific Edgardo - one of his best roles. Abbado and the La Scala forces are always worth hearing. There are tantalising snippets on Youtube in stereo, so one might hope that a better quality source exists, and could be issued?

 

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I want a recording of Lucia di Lammermoor and I have a shortlist of: 1) the latest Gergiev at a good price on 7 Digital (H-Res download) or 2) Bonynge/Sutherland on Decca.

I know little about this opera so recommendations will be greatly welcomed.
What is already quite useful is whittling down the top choices so far to Callas, Sutherland, Moffo, Pagliughi in the title role. There is something like 30 recordings between these four.

This helps narrow it down given just how many famous singers have not yet been picked as top choices
e.g. Lily Pons, Roberta Peters, Renata Scotto, Montserrat Caballe, Cristina Deutekom, Edita Gruberova, Katia Ricciarelli, June Anderson, Mariella Devia, Natalie Dessay, Anna Netrebko.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Thank you everybody for all the excellent opinions, so far. Certainly gives me much to consider. I think the Gergiev is out of the reckoning; Bonynge/Sutherland or a Callas performance it will be. More thought and listening required over the next few days ......
 

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It all depends on what your priorities are. If you want a modern stereo studio recording of the complete opera without any of the traditional cuts (which include whole numbers and scenes), then there are two worth considering:

1) Sutherland/Pavarotti/Bonynge
2) Studer/Domingo/Marin

Studer and Domingo are more dramatically convincing, whereas Sutherland and Pavarotti are more vocally sumptuous. One of these two recordings will be enough for those who aren't particularly into bel canto or Donizetti, but I find a Callas recording absolutely essential for her portrayal of the title heroine. I would suggest the Berlin performance under Karajan as a supplement to one of the above complete sets.

The first Callas studio recording with Gobbi and conducted by Serafin is also with much merit and Sutherland's live recording from 1959 finds her in super fresh voice, but it has many of the usual cuts (although not quite as many as all the Callas recordings).

Callas' second studio set has the advantage of being a stereo recording, but it is only for Callas fans as she is vocally a little less secure than in her earlier recordings and her interpretation of the role does not improve on the Berlin performance.

N.
 

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Thank you everybody for all the excellent opinions, so far. Certainly gives me much to consider. I think the Gergiev is out of the reckoning; Bonynge/Sutherland or a Callas performance it will be. More thought and listening required over the next few days ......
The Gergiev has Dessay as singer, that is great, however she did a production in the Met, there her voice is even better.( Not commercially released) Only the Mad scene is on a CD.
There is always this one.
U



I personally choose Beverly Sills (Westminster 4712502), especially when we are talking about studio recordings. Her portrayal : child girl who lets it all come to her. The rest of the cast (Carlo Bergonzi, Piero Cappuccilli, Justino Diaz) is also of a very high standard and Thomas Schippers conducts very firmly. But what really makes that recording special is the use of a glass harmonica in the madness scene, just as Donizetti originally prescribed it.
 
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