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|Francesco Cilea, MÃ¡rio Rossi, San Carlo Theater Orchestra (Naples)|
Francesco Cilea: Adriana Lecouvreur
"Captures Olivero's memorable performance in perhaps her most celebrated role and conveys a large measure of her astonishing talent." -- The Opera Quarterly One of the greatest recordings showcasing the artistry of soprano... more »
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"Captures Olivero's memorable performance in perhaps her most celebrated role and conveys a large measure of her astonishing talent." -- The Opera Quarterly One of the greatest recordings showcasing the artistry of soprano Magda Olivero, "the Queen of Verismo." Also stars one of the greatest tenors of the twentieth century, Franco Corelli, with legendary mezzo Giulietta Simionato in the main supporting role. Francesco Cilea (1866-1950) was one of the "minor masters" of Italian opera. His masterpiece is Adriana Lecouvreur, a work that, ever since its Milan premiere starring Enrico Caruso at the Teatro Lyrico in November 1902, has been a standard opera on Italian stages. Its story is a romanticized treatment of the life of a real person, the celebrated French actor Adrienne Couvreur (original spelling, 1692-1730), who was the beloved of the great Voltaire among many other men. She caused a sensation at her debut in 1717 at the Comédie Française in Paris when she appeared on stage in a simple robe, her bare shoulders covered only by her long luxurious hair. Previously, all female actors were normally costumed in elaborate drapery and plumed headdresses. In one stroke, Mlle. Couvreur (by now known under the more aristocratic form of Lecouvreur) changed the style of stage declamation forever, and became the favorite actress in France for the rest of her short life. When she died at the age of thirty-eight, rumor had it that a jealous noblewoman had poisoned her, as in the opera. Live performance, Naples, November 28, 1959.
One of the greatest ever live verismo performances
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 04/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of my "desert island discs"; I cannot imagine hearing four greater voices in a vehicle more suitable for them than this neglected opera - a verismo masterpiece. We have four of the post-war superstars of Italian opera singing to the manner born: Olivero, so sadly under-recorded, shows why she is one of the top half dozen voices in any opera connoisseur's list of dramatico-spinto sopranos, producing among so many other wonderful moments, a stunning crescendo in "Io sono l'umile ancella" (almost as good as her 1938 version); Corelli trumpeting those squillo top notes while also achieving a remarkable degree of tenderness when required, Bastianini in full control of that beautiful, nut-brown voice and Simionato chewing the scenery with both vocal registers uninhibitedly wide open - this is a dream cast that makes one wish time travel were possible. The Neapolitan audience knows its hearing something special and I don't find their raucous appreciation irritating; it just adds to the sense of occasion. Rossi lets this piece go exactly the way it should: not too much subtlety, plenty of fire and pace, allowing one glorious melody after another to roll out.
The sound is remarkably clear for a live recording fifty years old; there is a little congestion in ensembles but the voices are to the fore while orchestral details emerge clearly. I cannot imagine a more persuasive advocacy for this opera than this recording; you would not expect a studio performance to be so viscerally thrilling in any case - yet the Levine set with Scotto and Domingo is almost as good as this one (see my review). You can buy this absurdly cheaply in Opera d'Oro's standard issue or splash out on the de luxe version with libretto; in either case, this set is indispensable."