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For CD I would like to recommend this one:
http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/RCA/88875073452
Moffo is a superb Gilda , Krauss and Merril are very stylish.

For DVD:

http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Erato/6418689

Damrau gives a stunning performance, so is Florez it's a bit "regie " but very the singing makes up for it.

If you like more traditional go for the DVD from the Met.
Pugg I know you have the recent small stage Tutto Verdi complete video boxset, I think the very best one in the entire boxset is the Rigoletto which can be purchased individually featuring exotic Nino Machaidze and Nucci:

 

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Back in the 90s I was a big fan of Vladimir Chernov, so I have to mention this one, although I always felt he was a singer who was at his best live on stage rather in the recording studio.

 

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Pugg I know you have the recent small stage Tutto Verdi complete video boxset, I think the very best one in the entire boxset is the Rigoletto which can be purchased individually featuring exotic Nino Machaidze and Nucci:

Most of the time I do agree with you D.A but I'll stick with the Damrau in this (DVD) case.
As in modern staging.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
I listened a lot to the first Sutherland recording. Didn't know or care about the cuts. Sutherland was in better voice, though still moony, but I was too green and didn't notice. I liked Cioni (still do) and McNeil too. Why is Hvorostosky' s picture on the cover?
Just ordered this cheap second hand. Be interested to hear the young Sutherland in the part of Gilda.
 

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You can't catch a word of what she sings but it's beautiful as ever, I bought it too yesterday ( cheap new set 6.50 €) ;) ;)
:) Ha ha, if you know the words, she appears to be intelligible. But she's better here than in her later recording with Pav. Plus, I think they may have added reverb, which obscures the voices a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
I bought the early Sutherland and am listening. Better conducted than I thought b y Sanzogno. Mc Neil fine with great voice. Cioni a little shrill but characterises well. Sutherland - what a voice she had! But for the character seek elsewhere. But I can enjoy for sheer splendour of sound.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 · (Edited)
Just been listening to the Callas / Gobbi / Di Stefano Rigoletto and the quartet. This is absolutely amazing as is the whole performance under Serafin. Great characterisation. Di Stefano the best Duke on record and both Callasd and Gobbi incomparable here. Pity about the wretched cuts but this performance is the standard by which all others should be judged.
 

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Verdi Challenge update - Favourite Rigoletto - I

Winner



Verdi
Rigoletto
Tito Gobbi, Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano, Nicola Zaccaria, Adriana Lazzarini
Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano
Tullio Serafin
Warner Classics (1955/2014 Remastered Edition)


2nd



Verdi
Rigoletto
Piero Cappuccilli, Ileana Cotrubas, Plácido Domingo, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Elena Obraztsova
Wiener Staatsopernchor
Wiener Philharmoniker
Carlo Maria Giulini
Deutsche Grammophon (1979/1999 Remastered Edition)


3rd



Verdi
Rigoletto
Sherrill Milnes, Beverly Sills, Alfredo Kraus, Samuel Ramey, Mignon Dunn
Ambrosian Opera Chorus
Philharmonia Orchestra
Julius Rudel
Warner Classics (1978/2018 Reissue Edition)


4th



Verdi
Rigoletto
Ettore Bastianini, Renata Scotto, Alfredo Kraus, Ivo Vinco, Fiorenza Cossotto
Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Gianandrea Gavanezzi
Andromeda (1960/2011 Remastered Edition)


5th



Verdi
Rigoletto
Robert Merrill, Roberta Peters, Jussi Björling, Giorgio Tozzi, Anna Maria Rota
Orchestra e Coro del Teatro dell'Opera di Roma
Jonel Perlea
Naxos (1956/2008 Remastered Edition)
 

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Verdi Challenge update - Favourite Rigoletto - II

6th



Verdi
Rigoletto
Renato Bruson, Edita Gruberova, Neil Shicoff, Robert Lloyd, Brigitte Fassbaender
Orchestra e Coro dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Giuseppe Sinopoli
Philips (1985/2011 Reissue Edition)


7th



Verdi
Rigoletto
Robert Merrill, Anna Moffo, Alfredo Kraus, Ezio Flagello, Rosalind Elias
RCA Italiana Opera Chorus & Orchestra
Georg Solti
Sony Classical (1963/2015 Remastered Edition)


Top 8-14
08: Molinari-Pradelli Trieste 61
09: Bonynge LSO
10: Kubelík Scala
11: Molinari-Pradelli Roma
12: Cellini RCA Ita
13: Gardelli MRO
14: Sanzogno OASC

[HR][/HR]
This was a quite tiring Rigoletto challenge, with 14 recordings that showcased their strengths and many flaws too. Of the honourable top 7, I didn't find a weak Sparafucile or Magdalena, but the competition was always in the performance of the main trio and the orchestra too. The second and worse half of the recordings featured two Sutherland Gildas that never please me (the Sanzogno for Decca is dull no more no less and in Bonynge she is more or less decent); a "Germanic" Eurodisc recording by Lamberto Gardelli that was a waste of time for me (odd diction by the singers) and a plain EMI recording conducted by FMP that never lifts up.

The two controversial points of this challenge were the Kubelík and Bonynge recordings, which in the first challenge (Opera Feast) got lukewarm reviews and receive no less. Both are spectacular failures for casting (Kubelík) and recording quality (Bonynge).

In the Kubelík Scala recording, Scotto would show a much better Gilda in a previous Gavanezzi recording (she sounds strenuous), but the orchestral sound and Fischer-Dieskau sink the recording. The positive side is the progression and improvement of Bergonzi in Acts II and III and the powerful quartet by Gilda, Magdalena, Sparafucile and the Duke.

I can only think of the Bonynge London Symphony recording to listen to the incredible Duke by Luciano Pavarotti, for me the best-achieved in discography. My let-down was Sherrill Milnes, whose Rigoletto doesn't show enough vocal characterization. He doesn't provide weight in the dramatic parts, but he would do much better in the later Rudel Philharmonia recording. Sutherland being Sutherland. Forever a great Lucia. Recording-wise, there were so many effects and elements in the mix and the microphones were so close to the singers that many parts show distortion and the effects sound dated. I don't buy into it.

In a more positive note before the second and best half, I should say we would pay a fortune for a live performance like the one in the Trieste 61 recording, conducted by Francesco Molinari-Pradelli (MYTO has wrongly labeled it as "Alberto Erede" in the back cover, I double-checked). It's the second Duke by Alfredo Kraus, very convincing and the star of the performance. Gianna d'Angelo and Aldo Protti are quite fine. The applause in the middle make me lower the mark and the sound is really good.

[HR][/HR]
In the first half, we usually have a battle of elements: orchestra, conducting, chorus, and the characters of Rigoletto, Gilda and the Duke. It's often a game of pull&push. I found many convincing Stereo recordings, and especially interested in some underdogs like the Sinopoli, Gavanezzi and Rudel recordings, each with their strengths. Both the Sinopoli and Solti recordings, provided their recording and performing quality, could have achieved the top spot for a stereo Rigoletto, but the cast was sometimes a let-down.

I find the strongest orchestral and choral performances in Giulini, Solti, Rudel, and then Sinopoli and Perlea.

  • My favourite Rigoletto is here Tito Gobbi, and if not, I go for Sherrill Milnes in 1978 or Ettore Bastianini in 1960. Robert Merrill is finer in the Perlea 1956.
  • My favourite Gilda is Maria Callas over the universe, followed by Ileana Cotrubas and Renata Scotto (1960).
  • My favourite Duke, if it cannot be sung by Luciano Pavarotti, can be Plácido Domingo or a competition between Alfredo Krauss in the 60s and Jussi Björling. Neil Shicoff is an Honourable Mention.
This was the order of my favourite Rigolettos, of which I would only buy the second (I already own the first 0:w:0)

[HR][/HR]
7th: Georg Solti, RCA Italiana 1963

Sony has remastered a really good recording that shines in the conducting and orchestral point of view. The brass is powerful and dramatic. There are sound effects in the first scene, not annoying at first, but they continue through the other acts, and they distract me. The cast is fine, with the spotlight on Alfredo Kraus. I've heard a better Robert Merrill in the Perlea recording, and here he has aged. Kraus signs his most pleasing Duke, although in the MP and Gavanezzi he is not very far. He is the weak link. I noticed that David Ward's Monterone pronounces "Monteron". Although it is a competitive recording, I'm not for a prime Anna Moffo. It's not my kind of voice and I even like more an aged Beverly Sills.

6th: Giuseppe Sinopoli, Accademia di Santa Cecilia 1985

This was my earlier stereo favourite for the orchestral an vocal performance, although I never thought it could be a summit for the work. At first I was very optimistic with the SQ, the brass and Sinopoli's conducting in the overture. It didn't have any particular sound effects and the chorus is really solid (their volume is sometimes oddly loud). What I missed was that Sinopoli kept the tension in the score throughout Acts II and III. Everything could be considered as really good, competing with Julius Rudel. Then, in the cast it went sideways. I didn't remember such an unexpressive Rigoleto in Renato Bruson. He became the weak link. The best part was the surprising performance by Neil Shicoff and Edita Gruberova in the Duke and Gilda characters. Shicoff has at first some issues with the stresses. Very clean recording and a recommended listen.

5th: Jonel Perlea, Opera di Roma 1956

I wish Sony had remastered this, because both the conducting and the orchestra sound solid and clean. The pace is slow and the overture sounded epic (ok, it was the first in the challenge), while the whole score is able to portray the drama in the complete recording. A pitiful Merrill Rigoletto and a compelling Björling Duke make the recording rise. It was my first Jussi Björling experience, and looked like Plácido Domingo was chewing gum. Roberta Peters can defend herself in Gilda.

4th: Gianandrea Gavanezzi, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino 1960

This is a studio recording in stereo but released by Andromeda. The orchestra sometimes sounds thin and with low volume, but the detail is decent. The casting is stellar, not bound to recording labels. Renata Scotto is the star in this recording, signing an astonishing "Caro Nome". Bastianini's voice is so polished that almost makes up for a Giorgio Germont instead of Rigoletto. It's very noble. Alfredo Krauss is equally compelling in this recording although he could shine more, especially in Act III. The final quartet before Gilda's murder, with Cossotto, Scotto, Krauss and Vinco is great. I swear this should not have been a HM, but the level of the rest couldn't compete with this (besides, this was streamed after the Serafin recording).

3rd: Julius Rudel, Philharmonia Orchestra 1978

There is no need to remaster this 78 recording in my opinion. It's really bold in the orchestra from beginning to the end. The conducting is good to great, and the cast is not as aged as some say. Sherrill Milnes is the star of this recording and the model Rigoletto if we don't count Gobbi. He sings with a successful combination of vocal quality and characterization. He sometimes reminds me of Gustav Neidlinger. Samuel Ramey's Monterone is also quite well-performed, but mind that he also sings Sparafucile. Alfredo Kraus' final Duke is not spectacular, but he is really good for the role anyway. He enlarges the second to last syllables and works out the toughest duets with Beverly Sills. Her late Gilda shows more ageing and weaknesses although she can remain convincing for the most part (a reliable "Caro Nome"). She loses presence in her duets with Milnes. In the end the orchestra becomes the star with sharp but clean playing, ending the opera with a thundering timpani.

2nd: Carlo Maria Giulini, Wiener Philharmoniker 1979

The stereo winner of this challenge had a very bad luck last year being played after the Sinopoli recording. I didn't feel any impact and only listened to Act I. That time I wasn't paying attention to many of the features I'm addressing here.

Although the 24bit remastered version offers more detail in the external band in Scene 1, the 1999 remaster is very accessible and decent for the level of the performance. The Wiener Philharmoniker (incredible) grows more confident throughout the opera and is flexible enough to address the requirements of each scene. Their flavour is very positive for many parts of Act II, like Rigoletto's song. In fact, I'm not very impressed by Piero Cappuccilli's performance as Rigoletto, which he fulfils dutifully but without brilliance. The main point here is that the orchestra helps him to lift up his solo parts. He can be considered the weak spot. The duets are really well-performed generally. Plácido Domingo sings the Duke almost like a competition with Luciano Pavarotti, showing off his abilities. He has more success in Acts II and III and his Dona aria has nothing to envy about the Italian's. Cotrubas also seems to be competing against Maria Callas and carries the Gilda role to a comfortable place where she adds an exaggerated lightness and delicacy that works 80% of the time. Sometimes I don't know if I prefer her or Scotto.

1st: Tullio Serafin, Teatro alla Scala 1955

It's the recording. The sound of the recording is very metallic. It's detailed for me and well-conducted. Both Callas and Gobbi are the stars of the recording and discography. Unbeatable. The only weak spot is Giuseppe di Stefano, with a certain attitude that seems dry to me. He does a very good performance.
 

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Di Stefano a weak link in the Serafin recording? Sorry must disagree very strongly. To me he is everything a Duke should be. This is the best performance on disc. The problem is the cuts and the aged recording.
 

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Edit: Probably you've already seen my previous answer. I have to remember more often to ignore replies that attack a particular remark (often about a singer). I invite readers to take into account the general painting and not how well did X or Y for me in a competitive listen. And then try for themselves.

I'm doing this out of love, but I can perfectly do like other senior members: do my reviews privately, buy the recordings I love, post in Current Listening and go chit-chat to the Community Forum. All my respect.

If I told you how much I have changed my opinion about Jochum's Bruckner in Dresden in a year... Now I take everything more relatively and try to bring it for my "reviews" and "guides". If you want a serious musically informed review, subscribe to Gramophone and pay.
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Just obtain date Muti recording from La Scala (bargain basement). It is quite good, surprisingly in spite of the reviews.
Worth hearing fro Zancanaro's superb Rigoletto. He has the right voice and everything. Dessi a fair Gilda but La Scola a weak Duke although he sings pleasantly. Muti conducts a 'critical edition' and appears rather too careful for much of the time. What happened to the guy who conducted Macbeth?
 

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This is my choice. Why?
Excellent singing and conducting, never too fast.
The score is COMPLETE, no cuts that I can discern.
The acoustics of the recording are slightly reverberant, but the stereo sound is excellent.
Rigoletto is the only Verdi opera I really enjoy and I've heard a bunch.
The Serafin/Callas is the classic, but for good sound and hearing ALL the music this does it for me.
 
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