Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Bellini, Caballe, Kraus|
Bellini: I Puritani
Very good recording, but not Bellini
BDSinC | Calgary, Alberta, Canada | 04/13/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I own this recording, and two of Sutherland singing the opera: one with Duval as the Arturo, and one with Pavarotti. I would recommend the two Sutherland (decca label) versions over this any day. However, I would recommend the later one with Pavarotti if you really want Arturo's music sung correctly. This recording is not bad, but it is not accurate, no matter what the booklet says. Caballe is wonderful with her pianos, etc, but has very hard upper notes. This Elvira sounds LIKE AN OLD WOMAN (even Joan Sutherland who was an old woman when she recorded it the second time didn't sound old). This rendition is "exact to the score, and to the note, and to the metronome" as this conductor is want to do all the time, which often kills bel canto operas completely, turning them into rotting museum pieces. It is one thing to respect the composer's intentions, but to marshal all forces straight jacketed to the note, the tempo, and etc in this way removes the spontaneity this music requires to give it life. Don't expect any flights of fancy in this recording, nor high note ending, they simply don't exist. Nor do the written high notes for the tenor (you won't hear any high F, not even in falsetto; even though Nicoli Gedda sounded old in the recording with Beverly Sills -- another Puritani version I own -- he out shines Kraus by a long way, which is really strange). Kraus, whom I truly love as a singer in Bel Canto, just doesn't seem to take off to me. The notes are there (minus the very high ones), but there is no life. The bass and the baritone are wonderful, really, but again lacking that special something. (I really tend to think this is not the fault of the singers so much as the way the conductor has interpreted the piece, and held them to his views like prisoners)All this said, you would wonder then why I gave it a four star. Well, it is a fine recording, it is more or less all there, if you like the singers (and I do) they won't really disappoint you. It just won't carry you away. Don't bother comparing it to the Maria Callas recording (which is so heavily cut, and the tenor's music so horribly sung it isn't funny). That was "created" to showcase her, not the opera. She does fill it with grand emotions, and insight. But this opera, of all operas, relies more completely on the wonderful voices of super wonderful extrodinary singers. It doesn't matter one bit if there is some heavy heady drama being portrayed (much of the libretto repeats itself anyway, and things revealed in one scene are revealed all over again in another), if the singing is NOT BEAUTIFUL, and if the singers are not allowed to indulge in flights of fancy (especially the soprano). We must remember that this opera was written for the 4 greatest singers of the day who literally had all of Europe at their feet. Rubini (the Arturo) couldn't act at all, but could sing with such beauty and heart he made people cry, which he would do only in his solo moments, ensembles bored him, and he rarely put much of himself into them (Mario, Giulia Grisi's husband later took over for Rubini when he retired, and his acting was no even mentioned; it is said Adelina Patti actually had to pinch him on stage to get any sort of reaction out of him). Grisi (the creator of Adalgisa in Norma to Pasta's electifying well acted Norma) though a respectable actress was more noted for her never-failing voice and her ability to use it well (though she had a strange habit of "gulping" before singing a difficult coloratura passage, a habit that no one was able to rid her of; by the way, she failed at all the "new music" that Viardot excelled in simply because she couldn't manage vocally, or physically, to act in the way the new music required to breathe life into the work). Antonio tamburini (Riccardo was created by him) excelled in both comic and serious opera (he also had such a refined falsetto he could, and did early in his career, sing female soprano roles including all their high notes, which most likely implies most of his high notes would have been a mixture of falsetto and head, as Rubini's would have been). Luigi Lablache (the Georgio) was a wonderful actor (especially in comedy). Yet, in spite of how well accomplished these two were in acting and comedy, it is never mentioned as a point of interest in any performance of Puritani (where if the truth be known, they have no real opportunities to do any real acting anyway). Strangely, this is one opera where the "Maria Callas" way of doing things does not make it better. The very fancy decorative interpretation of a Sutherland is what it needs, and it needs other singers with the same "musical pull" rather than dramatic pull (and we have to remember the tenor isn't even in the second act at all, so he has no real character development). This is BEl CANTO opera where one must listen to Rossini when he says what opera needs is VOICE, VOICE, and more VOICE. As wonderful as this recording is, it just doesn't have that magic something that takes it into the more exalted realms. And that is why it got only 4 stars from me."
Puritani "come scritto"
Michel | Montreal, Quebec | 01/06/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a strict "come scritto" version of Puritani - ornementation is
minimal and there are no interpolated high notes propably a decision of
the conductor - Muti is known to be a purist and stickler to the basic
score - but also by necessity as Montserrat Caballé and Alfredo Kraus
at that stage of their carreers (1979) wouldn't have been able to deliver
the goods - that said they still sing beautifully and make up for their
lack of brilliance with their unique musical refinement and elegance of
phrasing. Matteo Manuguerra is a splendid Riccardo singing superbly -
the set is almost worth having for him alone. Agostino Ferrin is a fine
Giorgio. Riccardo Muti for all his sobriety paces the opera exquisitely
and the sound is excellent. Not a first choice perhaps but still you could
do much worst!
The best "Puritani" on records.
Vladimiro Rivas Iturralde | México City, México | 03/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Muti and his superb orchestra and singers offer a rendition of Bellini's beautiful score that gives the work a new definition and standing in the Bellini canon. The music lives at the heightened level of emotion and the sound reflects a true opera-house balance. I consider Caballé, along with Callas, the best in records in the Elvira's role. Alfredo Kraus is simply perfect in the role of Arturo: there are better voices, like Pavarotti's for instance, but it's impossible to imagine a most perfect phrasing, line, and good taste in a bel canto singing. His "A te, o cara" is sublime. Manuguerra, in great voice and bel canto singing. Muti conducts the superb Philharmonia Orchestra with intelligence and passion. Not to be missed."