Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Gaetano Donizetti, Tullio Serafin, Maria Callas|
Donizetti: Lucia Di Lammermoor
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A safe choice
Niya | USA | 08/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"EMI offers three versions of Callas's Lucia. Each one has its strengths, but this one, the first, is the safe choice. One of the other two of Callas's EMI "Lucia" is a "live" performance conducted by Karajan, perhaps more exciting and with a subtler interpretation from Callas, but its recorded sound is rather harsh. The other one, the second studio recording, has a stereo sound, but most people will agree that Callas doesn't sound her best in that recording, in which her vocal problems are all too obvious and provide uncomfortable listening. This first studio recording, however, has no serious flaw in the recording or voice. The cast, with Di Stefano and Gobbi, is perfect. This is the first complete opera recording that Callas made for EMI, and Callas's voice in 1953 really sounded quite fresh and healthy, and her technique more stable and secure here than in her later "Lucia.""
One of the essential Lucia recordings
Mike Leone | Houston, TX, United States | 03/27/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Maria Callas made the great bulk of her recordings for EMI/Angel. She also recorded La Gioconda and La traviata for Cetra and Medea for Ricordi, both Italian firms. (EMI has since acquired the rights to Medea, and the Cetra recordings are still in the catalog as well.) This Lucia, made during a series of performances of the opera with Callas at the Florence May Festival 1953, was the first complete opera Callas recorded for EMI. Despite its not being complete, it really is one of the important Lucia recordings and belongs on any serious collector's shelf.Maria Callas of course was and remains an acquired taste, and one could do much worse than to begin his acquaintance with her with this Lucia. In this recording and in her Puritani, her voice had a certain fullness that began to disappear within a couple of years, possibly coinciding with her well-publicized weight loss. Going along with this fullness of sound was a darker quality that is entirely appropriate to Donizetti's brooding heroine. At this point in her career, Callas still had almost full control over her high notes, and even though John Steane, who wrote the notes for the recording, doesn't care for her high D at the end of "Quando rapito in estasi," I find her to be in good voice throughout. While Callas' later recordings of Lucia, both commercial and live, would certainly reach even closer to the heart of the character, this recording strikes the perfect balance between good vocalism and dramatic truth, and I would probably choose it even over the 1955 live Berlin performance, which although a little more complete, is rather more Teutonic-sounding because of Karajan's conducting and whose sound quality does not quite approach that of this recording.Looking back almost a half-century later, and after having had such other heavier-voiced singers as Sutherland, Moffo, Sills and Caballe tackle this part, it's difficult to imagine the impact that Callas' Lucia must have had on audiences who were used to hearing much lighter-voiced singers in the role. And indeed, such singers would not immediately lose their hold on Lucia. Roberta Peters would record Donizetti's heroine a couple of years later for RCA Victor, an interpretation which gives a good idea of how the role used to be conceived. When I first heard the Peters recording, on a Christmas morning a couple of years ago, I was immediately struck by how different the development of my interest in opera would have been if her recording had been my introduction to the opera.Considering that Lucia di Lammermoor has always been considered one of the touchstones of the bel canto and coloratura soprano repertoires, it's interesting that it is one of the few operas from the period that gives the final word to the tenor. Nellie Melba, another famous Lucia, used to have the final scene omitted, and Joan Sutherland, when she did her half-hour television abridgement, had the story told in flashback so that the selections actually began with the final scene and ended with the Mad Scene. If Callas is an acquired taste, I must say that I've never talked to anybody who didn't like di Stefano, at least during his early years. And to further the contrast with Callas' assumption of Lucia, Edgardo is the kind of role that was already identified with the kind of sound that di Stefano produced, thanks to Gigli and others. He has all the youthful ardency needed for the part, whether he is expressing love in the first act, anger in the second, or grief and remorse in the third.Tito Gobbi, the Enrico, is not generally identified with the bel canto repertoire, being much better known for such roles as Rigoletto and Scarpia; in the latter, he was of course famous for his partnership with Callas as Tosca. But he is surprisingly good as Enrico and even manages to inject a little more beauty into his tone than usual.Raffaele Arie was a highly-respected basso who unfortunately did not leave many recordings. And Raimondo's big aria is among the casualties of this and other Lucia recordings that came before the big bel canto renaissance that Sutherland would both help to usher in and ride the crest of a few years later. Because of the cuts, Raimondo is not much more than a comprimario here, but Arie does do well with the part of the opera that remains to him. Similarly, the supporting singers are all good, especially Valiano Natali as Arturo.The recorded sound is quite good for the period and is certainly an improvement over that of the Seraphim LP pressings that served as many people's introduction to this recording and the opera. The CD set also contains the opening ominous timpani sounds that begin the opera but were missing from the Seraphim pressing.This recording is certainly more than adequate for anybody whose primary interest in the opera is Callas' participation. Those more interested in a complete rendition of the opera would do well to investigate just about any of the recordings made in the past 40 years (Sutherland's two are my favorites), but even there this recording would be a welcome supplement."
A magnificent Lucia
Mike Leone | 04/25/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was only Callas' second recording for EMI the first being I Puritani and it was to be the begining of the Callas frenzy. No suprise. Here was a voice still big enough to sing Wagner able to articulate the most sensational coloratura, even at the extremities of the voice the tone is full blooded and beautiful, you get the feeling that she could perform any feat she wished with barely taking a breath. And again (after seeing this opera recently at the Met.) I am amazed by the way Callas could fill a coloratura passage with such delicate phrasing and such color that the listener can feel the very joy and pain that Donizetti (and others) clearly wanted to communicate. This is what made Callas' work great art. At this point of her career and in the following few years she wasn't just the great singing actress. She was vocally super human capable of astounding things. Although her interprative skills may be sharper in the slightly later Karajan recording and indeed Callas live is always more thrilling than a studio recording, this set for me is the one to recommend. The remastered sound is exceptionally good and makes the recording one that can happily compete with more modern recordings. Magnificent."