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Giordano: Andrea Chénier
Gino Bechi, Giuseppe Taddei, Umberto Giordano
Giordano: Andrea Chénier
Genre: Classical
 

      

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CD Reviews

THIS is the greatest of Gigli's complete operas!
madamemusico | Cincinnati, Ohio USA | 04/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I don't know if I should spend 100 or 1,000 words describing this miraculous performance. Nor do I really know where to begin, there is so much to say about it! Perhaps I should start by saying that this is my favorite of all verismo operas, not least because the music suits the drama at every turn and that the plot and characters are both fascinating and very well-developed. Unlike many other verismo scores, I cannot think of a single superfluous passage in this well-crafted score which brims with both passion and thoughtfulness.Of all the roles he sang, Gigli considered this his best, and it shows. Unlike his "Ballo," "Boheme," "Butterfly," and other operas (not to mention the Verdi Requiem), he keeps his glotting and sobbing to a bare minimum here, singing with not only his usual glorious tone but also with a superb legato and sense of drama one did not always hear from him. Not one note, not one emotion, sounds false or forced or artificial; Gigli identified completely with the poet whose compassion for the poor helped trigger a revolution that he eventually became the unwitting victim of. Gigli IS Chenier the same way that Vickers was Peter Grimes, Siepi Don Giovanni and Flagstad Isolde. It is very much his signature role.Maria Caniglia gives us a passionate yet highly musical Maddalena; if you can simply accept that her overly-bright voice was not recorded well by the early microphones, you will enjoy her interpretation as multi-faceted and riveting. Moreover, she sings more in tune here than in her later recordings (with Gigli) of "Ballo" and "Aida."Gino Bechi is a magnificent Gerard; only Bastianini has ever equaled him. The voice was both warm AND brilliant simultaneously, and he sings with a luster seldom heard in his later recordings.The smaller roles are also well-cast, with the excellent Maria Huder as Bersi, a young Giulietta Simionato as the Contessa, and the equally-young Italo Tajo as Roucher and Giuseppe Taddei as Fleville and Fouquier-Tinville. Olivero de Fabritiis, an excellent conductor, provides both lyricism and drama to his reading of the score.Forget the old mono sound. This one is a must-have for any collector, one for the ages!!!"
Wonderful performance of wonderful opera
L. E. Cantrell | Vancouver, British Columbia Canada | 04/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Madamemusico is right on in her comments about this recording. This is surely one of the best recordings ever made of any opera. Gigli, born in the 19th Century, here proves once again why he is one of the greats even now in the 21st. I confess to being a total fan of Caniglia, despite all her faults, but even her harshest critics must be impressed by her performance and the sheer, glorious sound she offers. Bechi sings with all the dramatic intensity of Gobbi and in what is for him a more than usually warm, truly musical sound.For those of you not familiar with this not-quite standard repertory opera, Andrea Chenier is by far the best Puccini opera that Puccini never wrote and better than some he did write.This is a great and historic recording at a bargain price. Grab it!"
A wonderful testament to a great era of singing
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 12/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"While I am not the greatest fan of Gigli - and that's probably enough to put some people off from reading this review straight away - I can understand why he favoured this role; it enables him to employ all the best features of his voice: the plangent top, the expressive mezza-voce, the liquid tone alternating with stirring, spinto thrust are all here to relish. I still think he lacks the heft and pharyngeal "squillo" of the best exponents of this role, namely Del Monaco (on Decca with the best possible partners in Tebaldi and Bastianini) and, even better, Corelli (accompanied by a wholly committed Stella and under-rated baritone Sereni singing his heart out, on EMI) but there is such a strong sense of ensemble here and the recording is admirable: clean, clear, hardly any congestion in the climaxes.

In fact I think this opera is mistakenly scorned in some circles; performed as well as it is in this recording (and in the two mentioned above), it takes its place among the most thrilling, well-crafted and memorably tuneful of supposed "second rank" operas.

There is also the advantage of being able to hear two other great artists: Maria Caniglia, Gigli's regular singing partner, better know in recordings made just a little too late in her career but here wonderfully expressive and suffering little from the acidity which afflicted her top notes later on, and Gino Bechi, the huge, black-voiced baritone dubbed by no less than Corelli as "the vocal phenomenon of our age". Comprimario parts are skilfully taken - there is the incidental pleasure of hearing the instantly recognizable timbre of the young Giuseppe Taddei in two roles - and De Fabritiis conducts with his heart on his sleeve - as this great barn-stormer of a score demands.

All of this achieved in early 1941, as if there were no war going on at the time! A classic - buy it.

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