Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Verdi, Callas, Valletti|
The best Callas "Traviata"
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 03/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Santa Fe listener has beaten me to it with his comprehensive and discriminating review, so I will not render this review otiose by re-hashing his observations, as I pretty much agree with his judgement. (I will readily confess that I sometimes find him harsh and uncharitable in his pronouncements, but this one is right on the money.) This as close as we shall ever get to the-recording-that-never-was-but-should-have-been. I would add only that it would be dishonest to fail to remark that Callas' top notes are indeed a bit screamy - but they pale into insignificance when set against the depth and brilliance of her Violetta. She is in good voice and for once worthily partnered; Valletti especially is in perfect voice; youthful, boyish, unaffected and impassioned. He never makes an ugly sound but there is no shortage of commitment to his Alfredo. The sound is perfectly adequate: a bit hissy and congested but, unlike the La Scala recording, consistent throughout. It is true that Zanasi sounds far too young as Germont - turn to Bruscantini for an authentic sounding father (see my review of the Gardelli set with Freni and Bonisolli) - but he sings honestly and expressively with far more sensitivity than either the detached Sereni or the boorish Bastianini (much as I love both in other roles and recordings). Rescigno supports Callas unobtrusively with flexible, unhurried tempi and his calm control obviously allowed the diva to feel as comfortable as possible.
This is the set I shall take down from my shelves when I want to hear Callas' incomparable characterisation of Violetta in all its lacerating pity and pathos; for me, it renders the other two pirated recordings and the Cetra studio recording obsolete. She maintains such poise and control in key moments such as "Dite alla giovane" that it is easy to forgive the odd instance of vocal frailty - of which there are surprisingly few, in any case.
P.S. A mild curiosity: just after the overture has begun, you can hear Callas warming up quietly in the wings, accompanying the orchestra! Presumably this is something the mike picked up but the audience could not."
Deserving of all praise
Robert T. Martin | 03/27/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ralph Moore is on the money with his review. Callas practically gives a master class on what great singing is all about. She's expressive without having to break the musical line and never resorts to lunges, lurches or excessive emphasis on syllables merely to make dramatic points. Toss a dart anywhere at this recording and it's bound to land on a telling example of her artistry. Notice how in "tra voi sapro..." (the first act drinking song) she subtly varies the dynamics and never lets a phrase completely drop but rounds each one with little diminuendos. Many singers blurt out the first syllable in "sempre libera" thus disturbing the musical line even before the aria starts. Callas however, glides into the phrase creating a smooth line and giving the aria continuity and "swing," her emotion established naturally with technique rather than with phony histrionics. This Violetta might travel in the fast lane but she retains an emotional maturity and dignity throughout.
In the second act her ability to create pathos through tone color and dynamics rather than with blubbering sobs is apparent in "dite alla giovine" again maintaining that all important musical line. Her fast approaching death in the final act breaks neither her dignity nor her vocal discipline- her demise is expressed through control of dynamics, a halting phrase or an intake of breath (I wish her Alfredo exhibited some of her restraint). There are a few times when she seems off pitch and her top notes can sound harsh yet these are minor quibbles in an outstanding performance.
Cesare Valleti is a perfect Alfredo, fresh voiced, vigorous, impassioned and involved. I could have wished for a bit more restraint from him especially in the last act still, we should be grateful for this performance. Mario Zanasi is very good as Germont, he offers fine singing and good vocal acting. His transformation from suspicion of Violetta to admiration is convincing. He sings "di provenza il mar" beautifully and perhaps with a tad too much emotion (Verdi provided plenty in the music), nevertheless he floats lovely pianos at "dio mi quido" and "dio m'esaudi ."
Nicola Rescigno (born in Brooklyn, NY) proves a very fine conductor. He's very sensitive to the needs of his singers yet the performance has good momentum.
The sound is decent late 50's mono and above average for a live performance of the era. In some cases it's better than the sound provided in other Callas Traviata performances. This MYTO edition includes only a cast list and track information. No synopsis and no libretto is provided.
I'm hoping that by adding to the positive review posted here this recording will become better known- there are dozens of reviews accompanying other Callas Traviatas, which in some cases don't approach the artistic quality of this one.