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Cilea: Adriana Lecouvreur
Francesco Cilea, Mário Rossi, San Carlo Theater Orchestra (Naples)
Cilea: Adriana Lecouvreur
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #2


      
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CD Reviews

A Great Adriana Recording With A First-Class Cast Of Singers
Alfredo R. Villanueva | 02/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This old 50's recording is a document in the careers of the singers soprano Magda Olivero, tenor Franco Corelli, mezzo Giuletta Simionato and baritone Ettore Bastianini, singers who in their time garnered fame and fandom and are still talked about with great reverence today. It's an old recording and a live one so that's a double headache and it would be splendid if they digitally remastered this recording. But despite the bad sound, all true devotees of the singers will want to own this. Conductor Mario Rossi leads the orchestra in a beatiful and straightforward account of Francesco Cilea's musical score, which at the time (1900's) was considered quasi-romantic but verisimo. This performance was one staged at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, a very old and historic theater which had seen the works of Donizetti and Verdi performed. If you are interested in listening to a better recording with greater attention to musical detail and better sound, then look for the recording conducted by James Levine and starring Placido Domingo, Renata Scotto, Elena Obrazstova and Sherill Milnes. That one uses great effects - like applause at the Comedie Francaise theater where Adriana performs, bells, harps and other beautiful and natural sounds. This one is merely an old-fashioned account of the work. But at this time in the 50's, Adriana was an opera that was performed with a lot more frequencey throughout Europe and in the States. Nowadays, it's gone on the wayside and is only of historic interest.

Franco Corelli and Magda Olivero head up the cast as the lovers Maurizio and Adriana. To hear these fabulous tenor and soprano pair is a delightful treat, especially because they rarely performed together. Magda Olivero was a huge star but very underrated because she hardly promoted herself the way Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi and Anna Moffo did in the 50's. Consequently, we don't find recordings or film footage of Magda Olivero. Hers was essentially a lyric voice, but her Spanish background kept her from possessing a truly Italianate lyrico-spinto voice. Nonetheless, she scored success singing the Italian opera repertoire and she was hailed as supremely excellent Tosca. Magda Olivero is possibly at her best in this performance. She sings with great vulnerability and femininity, and she essays the music with aplomb. Franco Corelli was still not yet a famous star and had not debuted at the Met. Already a singer with many roles under his belt- including Don Jose in Carmen, Manrico in Trovatore, Rodolfo in Boheme, Alfredo in Traviata and others - he is expressive, mature, dramatic, richly lyrical and an intelligent singer. He suffered of stage fright but once he got going there was no stopping him. As Maurizio, he is unbeatable. His voice was nothing like Mario Del Monaco who might have been his only true rival. Rather than being a bombastic, unsubtle singer, he could sing with delicacy and sensitivity. If you want to get my meaning about Del Monaco vs. Corelli, consider Pavarotti vs Domingo. Pavarotti is today's Del Monaco. Pavarotti has a big, dramatic voice but lacked true musical intelligence and nuance and sensitivity. Domingo is intelligent, sensitive and dramatically committed, even if a step down from the big Pavarotti voice. However, Del Monaco was the more intelligent musician than Pavarotti. If you're a fan of Corelli, this role is actually one of his greater succcesses. His best work is Mario Cavarodossi (in the '67 Lorin Maazel recording with Birgit Nilsson) Calaf (in the '66 EMI recording with Birgit Nilsson) and as Andrea Chenier (in the EMI recording with Antonietta Stella). Sadly, Corelli never sang Otello, though he was constantly asked to sing that.

Giuletta Simionato and Ettore Bastianini round out the cast. Mezzo soprano sensation Simionato was the reigning Italian mezzo of her time. She sang with a commanding presence (she was very beautiful) and with an impressive voice capable of highs and lows within the mezzo soprano range. Her native Italian voice helped her essay all the grand operas - Verdi's Travotore, Carmen, Aida and others. Her Azucena is lyric and intense, her Carmen sexy and playful and her Amneris is imperious and touching. As the Princess De Boullon in this recording, she is her usual great self, but she lacks the necessary "evil" quality for the role of the jealous princess. She's singing with supreme artistry without doubt but she doesn't have a terrific feel for the character's rotten nature. Ettore Bastianini, too, sings with great musicality and Italian phrasing (of course! he's Italian!) but again, he lacks dramatic integrity. He and Simionato were often paired together but perhaps only because they were a mellifluous couple on stage, not so much for any electrifying dramatic theatricality. But nonetheless Simionato and Bastianini deliver the goods and remain many a fan's favorite mezzo and baritone. They sing with all the grandeur of a lost art of Italian singing from around WWII and throught the 50's. This one's a must have for curious listeners."
A DREAM CAST, SUPERB PERFORMANCE
Alfredo R. Villanueva | New York, NY United States | 03/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED, IF MAGDA OLIVERO SINGS IT, I MUST HAVE IT. SHE REALLY OVERWHELMS THE COMPETITION. COMPARE HER "WALLY" WITH TEBALDI'S OR HER "FEDORA" WITH EVA MARTON'S. BUT, IN THIS CASE, I ALSO HAVE THE SCOTTO/DOMINGO/LEVINE SUPERB POWERHOUSE. A LIVE PERFORMANCE IS ALWAYS MORE EXCITING THAN A STUDIO RECORDING, AND THIS ONE DELIVERS TO THE HILT. OLIVERO WAS CILEA'S OWN CHOICE FOR THE REVIVAL OF THIS OPERA, WHICH DREW HER OUT OF RETIREMENT. THEREFORE,YOU ARE LISTENING TO A PIECE OF MUSICAL HISTORY. CORELLI, SIMIONATO, BASTIANINI! IT DOES NOT GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS. HOW LUCKY ARE WE TO HAVE IT AVAILABLE!"