Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Alfredo Catalani, La Scala Theater Orchestra, Agostino Ferrin|
Listen to Samples
Well Worth a Try
William S. Levison | Valdosta, GA United States | 02/06/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I had never heard any of this opera prior to receiving this recording, although I am quite fond of the more familiar "La Wally." As is always the case with this label, there is no libretto, but much of the music is lovely and/or exciting. "Exciting" is certainly the word for Elena Suliotis in the title role, which presents vocal challenges that the soprano rises to wonderfully. The sound is certainly adequate enough for the listener to appreciate the excellent orchestra and supporting cast, and the live audience is laudibly quiet."
An interesting curiosity
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 07/22/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A number of factors prompted me to try this set: the previous favourable review; the chance to hear Souliotis in her all-too-brief prime before she crashed and burned; watching a docudrama which emphasised Toscanini's admiration for the composer; my liking for Catalani's one known success "La Wally" (see my review); and, finally, the usual Opera d'Oro bargain price, which makes experimentation none too risky. The sound is standard Opera d'Oro fare, too - perfectly listenable, slightly congested mono - what more can one hope for, given that it's live from 1968? This performance is ably conducted by the ubiquitous Gavazzeni (I know he conducted at La Scala for nearly fifty years, but how did that man find the time to learn and conduct so many operas, I wonder?) Apart from Souliotis, we hear a sub-Del Monaco tenor in the capable, loud and beefy Gianfranco Cecchele and a relatively youthful Piero Cappuccilli sounding as he usually does. The supporting soprano affords the listener little pleasure in Act 1, but is markedly better in her big number at the opening of Act 2; in the end, however, the real reasons for listening to this are the novelty of the repertoire and the opportunity of hearing Souliotis throwing herself into her rôle as the fishy femme fatale. She is in fine voice: a huge, plush, blowsy sound with a striking lower register imperfectly melded with the rest of the voice, a few unsteady top notes and a fine sense of drama.
As with "La Wally", neither the subject nor the music is especially Italianate. I quote the 1922 review by Richard Aldrich of a performance at the Met (with Claudia Muzio, Beniamino Gigli and Jose Mardones - imagine!): "Catalani's music is that of an excellent musician who knew his business thoroughly...But it must be said that the music seems to have little originality, little individuality, little distinctive quality...his vocal writing is fluent and sonorous." He goes on to observe that he finds nothing especially pointed or emotionally apt or stirring at key points, but praises the little "alla Tedesca" wedding waltz and the concluding duet. (Nowadays, we are familiar, too, with the "Dance of the Water Spirits" as an orchestral piece heard in concert programmes.) I tend to agree with that assessment; it is said that Catalani was drawn to music "alla Tedesca" in general but little of Wagner's weight or invention is apparent to me and Aldrich suggests that comparisons between the Rhinemaidens of "the German master" and those of the Italian "are likely to put Catalani's in the shade." Ultimately, this is a well crafted opera which lacks memorability, but is still a pleasant listen."
Worth hearing for a splendid score and an impressive Sulioti
G.D. | Norway | 02/26/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Alfredo Catalani is probably most famous for `La Wally', but browsing through the catalogues it seems that `Loreley' currently clocks in almost as many recordings. The music is anyway lushly late romantic, drawing on Wagner and German models far more than Italian ones. The musical language is not particularly original, but the themes are often strong and the treatment and developments very effective, with several memorable numbers. Loreley is also dramatically effective and well paced - in short, it is an effective and rewarding second-rank opera, which deserves intermittent staging and definitely deserves to be heard by anyone interested in late romantic opera. The recording at hand is a live one, dating from 1968, and features a generally very good cast, first and foremostly a superb Elena Suliotis. She tackles the substantial technical challenges with apparent ease, and is stunningly beautiful and characterful in the many soaring vocal passages (though not quite avoiding a certain unsteadiness in the top register).
The supporting cast is overall relatively strong; Cappuccilli is generally impressive and full of character, Cecchele sturdy and more workmanlike, but never objectionable. I don't remember having encountered Rita Talarico before, but she does a more than satisfactory job here, and Gavazzeni leads a generally well paced and sensitive orchestral performance, drawing generally colorful and strong responses from the orchestra. But there are a couple of drawbacks. First of all, Opera d'Or does, as usual, not give us any libretto - that was to be expected, however, so I am not going to complain too loudly. The sound quality, on the other hand, is a more serious issue - this is definitely in the less acceptable end of Opera d'Oro productions; a flat, unbalanced and murky mono sound which is prone to distortion and which sounds like it's 30 years older, at least, than 1968. Now, I do recommend this release nonetheless for Suliotis's singing, but it is a hedged recommendation with a big warning sign accompanying it."