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Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor (complete opera) EMI's Great Recordings of the Century with Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano, Tito Gobbi, Tullio Serafin
Gaetano Donizetti, Tullio Serafin, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra
Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor (complete opera) EMI's Great Recordings of the Century with Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano, Tito Gobbi, Tullio Serafin
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (25) - Disc #2


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Lucia di Lammermoor - One of Callas' finest hours
Emma de Soleil | On a holiday In Ibiza, then back to the UK for stu | 05/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Lucia di Lammermoor is a complex role that has been portrayed by a varity of voice-types. Canaries like Pons, Carosio, Dessay, Jo and others, dramatic sopranos d'agilita like Callas and young Sutherland and today L'ubica Vargicova, lyric coloraturas like Sills, Scotto and Kohutkova and even spintos like Caballe and Rost who sang it come scritto, lower and without the ornamentations later added. All of these have their merits, it is my opinion though that a dramatic soprano d'agilita can do it justice incredibly. I find the role to be too demanding for canaries because it demands a rich middle and dark colours also. Passionate lyric coloraturas like Sills sound fabulous as Lucia as well because of their feminity, innocence and sweetness. Maria Callas, who was singing Tosca, Gioconda, Lady Macbeth and Norma at the time added Lucia to her repertoire in 1952, singing it in Mexico City after having sung a part of the madscene in a concert ealier. (A recording exists) The enthralled audience adored her so much and wouldn't stop hailing their divine one until the entire madscene had to be repeated, a feat no other Lucia achieved before or after. What kind of a Lucia is Callas? Well, a very unique one as one might expect of La Divina. Listening to "Regnava nel silenzio" you'll hear not only maiden-like beauty but an alarming, fearful colour of angst and beginning madness. It's only hinted, not overdone. But knowing Lucia's fate it's very moving. The coloratura in the cabaletta "Quanto rapito in estasi" presents us with another voice. Where Callas had sounded dark, melancholic and deep in the aria here she was glowing, shining and glittering but never chirping. Her top-registers was as steady as her rich middle then and the high note ending the cabaletta is lush, steady and beautiful. In the love-duet with honey-voiced di Stefano as Edgardo the angst returns, mixed with her pure and passionate love for Edgardo. The unisono of these two stunning voices has not been equalled since, it was a legendary partnership. In the duet with her brother Enrico Lucia's voice has grown darker, more afraid and closer to the madness soon to follow, climaxed in the tormented outcry "La tomba, la tomba m'aspetta!" (The tomb, the tomb is awaiting me!). The stretta of the duet, Enrico's harshness and Lucia's breakdown as she begs God to let her die culminates in a fabulous note in alto.
The wedding-scene has a feel of doom I haven't heard again before or after. Callas' voice is almost white with pain and fear and when Edgardo comes she breaks down, knowing now that her brother has betrayed her. Being spurned by a grief-stricken Edgardo we hear (!) Lucia breaking into a million pieces --> Going mad. The madscene itself, with the glorious "play" (Who calls it that?) with the flute is so hauntingly beautiful and touching. Mistaking the flute for her lover's voice Lucia, who has just murdered her husband, deliriously sings of the joy awaiting her and Edgardo. One cannot help but weep for her, this pure, loving soul that was crushed by ambition and hatred of others. The fireworks, high notes, cadenzas and coloratura of the cabaletta climaxes in a huge, glorious E-flat. A fabulous recording of bel canto, not only beautiful or pretty but haunting and moving.
Di Stefano sings a passionate, ultimate Edgardo and Panerei sounds idiomatic, dramatic and properly enraged as Enrico. Serafin shows all other maestri how bel canto MUST BE conducted. True there are some cuts but nothing that I personally miss a lot. In short: It's the best studio-recording of Lucia ever."
An Achievement for Donizetti and Callas!
The Cultural Observer | 01/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"From the conductors to the principal singers to the chorus, this recording of Lucia is without a doubt the must-have of all Lucias both for the reason of musicality, good taste, good music, and great singers. Donizetti himself could never have seen a better cast arranged for his tragic opera! To have an enormous voice (and please understand that this enormous voice is capable of handling coloratura passages just like any light coloratura could) sing Lucia is a phenomenon, and to have the likes of a great tragic artist such as Maria Callas singing a part which has been the playground of most coloratura lights is simply mind-blowing! Her keen sense of drama is evident in this Lucia, as she performs the madscene with a certain kind of drama never seen in any performance of Lucia before and after her career. Not even the fabled Dame Joan performances could match up with the beauty and the drama of this Lucia di Lammermoor. Lacking a good sense of drama and tragedy, Dame Joan only comes close the the accuracy of the score with her embellishments. Callas had so much more to offer to the role. The madness, the tragedy, all of it is so heartfelt in her singing. Of course, Lucia isn't simply a soprano's opera. Let us not forget the tenor who plays the part of Edgardo, who, if it were not for the high demand of a great many jealous sopranos in the past, would have shone as the star in this opera. Giuseppe di Stefano, a tenor with a great voice with an equally great dramatic capability, brought the part a human side which could not be heart from Pavarotti's belching. And Tito Gobbi, who else could have matched such a great baritone? No one!!! He was the ultimatum of the dramatic villain. Of course, we must not forget the efforts of the great Tullio Serafin, the most talented of all the known bel canto conductors during the age of recording technology. I recomment this recording to anyone who wants to hear a TRUE Lucia sung with a passion."