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Cherubini: Medea
Luigi Cherubini, Vittorio Gui, Firenze Community Theater Orchestra
Cherubini: Medea
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #2


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CD Reviews

lesismore26 | Chicago, Illinois USA | 12/31/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This two CD set captures Callas' first stage performances of Cherubini's "Medea", which took place at the Florence May Festival in 1953. The Callas voice is of gargantuan size here, and the impression she makes is that of a fire-eating dragon. Impressive, fun, and exciting as it is, however, the later vocal and dramatic refinements that Callas was to achieve in this role in future years were not yet fully evident, though what she produces here is still light years beyond any possible competition before or since (what other soprano has been able to sustain this impossible role?) ---- and what a huge and powerful sound Callas was able to make in 1953! Moreover, there is extra music for Medea included here that is heard in no other Callas version (and there are several live recordings as well as the studio version), and it is music that shows just how much of a virtuoso Callas was. Fedora Barbieri is heavy and good sounding Neris, and at the side of Callas, quite dramatic. Guichandut's Jason is acceptable. Gui conducts a spectacular and expansive performance for an audience who was hearing this searing opera for the first time, owing, of course, to the emergence of Callas. An historic performance starring an historic diva, and its wonderful fun to listen to!"
Callas, Barbieri, and Gui, Together!
F. Barton | Newport, WA USA | 10/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The incredible details of this performance are rather unimportant to me. I know that many of Maria's fans prefer her later performances to this one. Probably for the simple fact that in the last portion of the opera, she goes off mike, and one cannot hear her as clearly as in other performances.

BUT, the conducting of GUI cannot be ignored here, as it seems to be elsewhere. His putting of low cello strings, in place of the bassoon, in the all important, simply beautiful Barbieri solo, is outstanding!!! All other Callas performances have the bassoon, and I don't like it nearly as much as the low strings, that he places so expertly.

Also the sound, while slight, is better on this, Callas' debut, than on the La Scala '53, where we are not treated to the sensitive treatment of Gui. He repeats this low string arrangement, on the Borkh Medea years later, and it is just as effective.

Maria Callas will remain the top Medea for any age. Her fury, fire and vocal pyrotecnics that are presented on this night, kept me playing it over ten times upon first hearing. Why this role was not filmed, instead of Tosca, is just beyond me. It is rumored that Dame Judith Anderson copied some of Callas' mannerisms, or vice versa. Whichever, at least we have this great sounding CD. A+++ all the way, to me at least, thanks to the underrated conducting of Gui.