Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Franco Alfano, Elio Boncompagni, Turin RAI Orchestra|
Listen to Samples
Olivero in 1971 live performance of good verismo opera
L. E. Cantrell | Vancouver, British Columbia Canada | 06/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Source: This is live performance from Turin, dated October 22, 1971.
Sound: Fairly good, offering about a much as can reasonably be expected from a live performance of its time. This is the same performance that Gala issued in a quite wretched edition. This Opera d'Oro release offers markedly better sound. (Now, THERE is a sentence that one seldom has occasion to write!) There are a few moments of feet clomping on the stage. The audience is well-disciplined and scatters only a few coughs.
Documentation: Typical Od'O wasted opportunity. No libretto. Too short summary of the plot. The only list of performers, which is located on the back cover, offers the names of about half of the singers in solo parts. The track list does not identify who is singing and shows no timings. The tracks are over-long, with only ten used on Disk 2. The documentation on the Gala release is better, but that is only the faintest of praise.
A single hearing of "Risurrezione" is sufficient to establish that Franco Alfano had the verismo style down cold. The opera is absolutely at home with "Cavalleria Rusticana," "Pagliacci," "Andrea Chenier" and "Tosca." It is diatonic, melodic and orchestrally lush. But it is just a little late, just behind the crest of the verismo wave, so to speak. Alfano was a fine craftsman, with every tool in the verismo kit, lacking only the ability to craft a hit tune.
"Risurrezione" is based on Tolstoy's 1900 novel, "Resurrection." Despite that blue-blooded ancestry, Alfano's version is chock-full of good old, low-down, Italianate emotion. For once, Alfano managed to avoid the weak endings that plague his "Cyrano" and his completion of "Turandot." The last act of "Risurrezione" offers full-throttle exchanges between the tenor and the soprano that surely would wake up any audience.
The unquestioned star of this recording is that prima donna assoluta, Magda Olivero. The youthful Olivero (she was only about sixty at the time) sounds wonderful. The tenor, Giuseppe Gismondo was a real surprise to me. He presents a convincing performance with a big, powerful, dark voice. As far as I can gather, he sang extensively with the second-tier opera companies in the US during the 1960s. I find myself puzzled about why he did not become better known.
The rest of the cast is wholly unknown to me. On the whole, they are pretty good. I can't claim any familiarity with this opera beyond this performance, but the conducting seems to be both competent and appropriate.
The opera is a good piece of work, possessing almost all the virtues of the turn-of-the-Twentieth Century verismo school. Olivero is, as always, a true star and a genuine treat. Gismondo is a pleasing surprise.
A valuable souvenir of the great Olivero
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 05/04/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Magda Olivero made so few commercial recordings that her legion fans must be content with live recordings - yet one hardly feels cheated when her performances are of this intensity. When she is singing, it's as if she utterly embodies the character; you are wholly drawn in by the vibrancy of the voice, the searing poignancy of the emotion - and the unconventional beauty of the voice. She has Callas' ability to make you forget other singers in any role she inhabits and her vocal longevity - unlike Callas - was legendary; she sang very well into her seventies and even beyond. Here, she is a mere 62 and sings like a woman half her age - she made her Met debut two years later! Her speciality was, of course, verismo and this opera by Alfano - which notched up a thousand performances in Italy alone but is now unaccountably neglected - is the perfect vehicle for her. I say "unaccountably neglected", though perhaps a slight dearth of really good tunes ultimately handicaps it - but Olivero makes the most of the haunting meoldy in the most famous of the opera's arias, when she is waiting for the train bearing her lover who has deserted her.
I cannot agree with the previous Amazon.com reviewer, Mr Cantrell, who admires the tenor, Giuseppe Gismondo. Like the rest of the cast, he is more than adequate but his large voice is often unsteady and unlovely, with a laboured vibrato - and Olivero shows him up cruelly as no more than a very second-rank singer. Otherwise, the sound is more than adequate by Opera d'Oro standards: clear and undistorted such that one can hear the words perfectly well, especially when the diction is as good as Olivero's. The audience is unobtrusive - few coughs - and the conducting and playing seem to me to be more than acceptable. I am quite used to the minimalist documentation that is presumably one of the ploys used by Opera d'Oro to keep costs down. If you like Olivero, verisimo opera and to explore the byeways of the repertoire, you could do a lot worse than acquire this recording."
AN OBJECT LESSON IN VERISMO SINGING.
Alfredo R. Villanueva | New York, NY United States | 03/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"AT THIS POINT, IF THERE ARE TWO RECORDINGS OF A PARTICULAR VERISMO OPERA AND ONE HAS MAGDA OLIVERO IN IT, THAT WILL BE MY CHOICE. WHAT CALLAS AND GENCER DID FOR BEL CANTO, OLIVERO DID FOR VERISMO, THAT IS, TO SET A MODEL OF SINGING FOR EVERYONE ELSE TO TRY TO EMULATE. IN THIS RECORDING OF ALFANO'S LITTLE KNOWN "REZURREZIONE" HER SINGING IS SO INTENSE YOU ACTUALLY FEEL THERE IS NOTHING ELSE YOU CAN DO BUT PAY ATTENTION. I ALSO LIKE THE FACT THAT, THOUGH THE SET BRINGS NO LIBETTO, THE RECORDING IS SO CLEAR ALMOST EVERY WORD CAN BE UNDERSTOOD (AN ADVANTAGE IF YOU KNOW ITALIAN). GISMONDO AND THE REST OF THE CAST PROVIDE RICH AND IDOMATIC SUPPORT. ELIO BONCOMPAGNI, THE CONDUCTOR, IS ONE OF THE BEST IN THE FIELD OF VERISMO, AND DOES HONOR TO HIS NAME.IF YOU ARE TIRED OF BEL-CANTO SONG-BIRDS AND WANT GREAT DRAMATIC SINGING, THIS IS IT!"