Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Gaetano Donizetti, Andrea Rost, Bruce Ford|
Lucia di Lammermoor / Rost, Ford, Michaels-Moore, A. Miles, Mackerras
Lucia has not exactly been neglected on records, and Andrea Rost is not as dramatic a Lucia as Maria Callas nor as vocally opulent as Joan Sutherland. Still, she is vocally satisfactory and dramatically effective, and she ... more »
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Lucia has not exactly been neglected on records, and Andrea Rost is not as dramatic a Lucia as Maria Callas nor as vocally opulent as Joan Sutherland. Still, she is vocally satisfactory and dramatically effective, and she is supported by a first-class cast, notably the elegant Bruce Ford as her doomed lover Edgardo and Anthony Michaels- Moore as her tormented, manipulative brother Enrico. The primary attractions of this edition, however, are the period-instrument orchestra and Sir Charles Mackerras, who not only conducts a compelling treatment but has also taken the trouble of consulting and following Donizetti's original manuscript, scraping away a century and a half of "performing tradition"--i.e., changes introduced by singers more interested in showing off their voices than in following the composer's wishes. This is closer to the original inspiration than any previous recording, and more structurally coherent if less vocally spectacular. The recorded sound is very impressive. --Joe McLellan
A new revelation of the old
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have tons of recordings of Lucia with I think nearly every famous singer who ever recorded the role. Why would I buy another? I have the famous (and my favorite version) with Sutherland and Pavarotti, and the "authentic version" with Caballe, what could this version add? Actually, it adds plenty. Firstly, we have the wonderful balance of the period instruments, which actually record clearer than modern ones. The wooden flute used for the mad scene (they opted here to use a flute rather than the glass harmonica, and that is because Donizetti himself wrote the change) has such a different sound compared to the metal flutes of today. The harp in Lucia's first aria also has quite a different sound compared to modern harps. There is a complete freshness in the sound, though it is not strange and often "whining" like period instruments of the Baroque era. The only thing I could not discover was the diapaison of the recording. Pitch in Donizetti's day was much lower than our day, around A 430 and in some places as low as A 422, while in other cities it was as high as A 450 (Standard pitch of today is A 435 or 437, and concert pitch is A 440; though now days most people think A 440 is standard pitch because all pianos are tuned to that pitch). Knowing the diapaison lets us know what pitch the singers are singing in relations to the pitches we know today. If it is a lower pitch level, though sung in F the mad scene will still sound as E flat to us, the familiar key to our ears. Only in relationship to the whole will it take on a different sound. If A is pitched at the modern A 440 then all keys will be higher than in Donizetti's day, but will stay constant with his view of key relations, but we will notice the elevated keys as compared to our modern ear. This is all academic, but it is something required if someone is giving us a truly authentic recording. When I bought the recording, I had heard of NONE of the singers singing in it. Thus, I was coming to this recording with no previous view of what it expect. I have been able to aquire a lithograph of the autograph score of Donizetti's opera, and it in and of itself is a revelation. Following this recording with this score was really exciting. There are many key differences, and most of them put famous passages we all know and love into higher keys (Donizetti never wrote the lower keys at all, so when these famous scenes, the mad scene for example, were lowered, I have no clue, and why they were the keys that entered into all published scores I can't answer either). Donizetti was very careful about his key progressions in a work (far more particular about it than Bellini was), for he moved along the harmonic scale working to a climactic key that would give the greatest drama to the work. By lowering many of the Lucia airs (those sung by her character) and some duets, that key progression is ruined, and the tension that he wrote into the piece is lost. It is replaced with "prettiness." Here we hear his key progression, and the tension that is developed, which adds dramatically to the whole. People have mentioned that this recording is shorn of all its "embellishments." That is not true. The standard embellishments we are used to, and the high note endings are gone, but they were never sung until the beginning of the 20th century. Famous Lucia's of Donizetti's day sang no high note endings for they were not taught how to sing the super loud high notes we are used to hearing today. Their voices were trained to sound fullest at their lower ranges. Yes, they had high notes, and tons of them, but they were delicate and "pearl-like." Instead of blasting out high notes for affect, they used very intricate fiorature. Many times they raced up to high notes, held them for a short time, then came back down to the middle voice to end their cadenzas. In this recording you will find such cadenzas authentic to the period without reflecting the traditions of the 20th century. If one follows the score, it is NOT sung like the Caballe recording stripped of everything not written there. There are changes, and they are masterly sung, but they are what people would have heard in Donizetti's day. Having gone through a number of works by singers of that day, and seeing the standard embellishments added by Jenny Lind, Fanny Tacchinardi-Persiani (the original Lucia), and others, I have discovered that the embellishments used in this recording, though not taken specifically from any one of these singers, are faithful to exactly what these former singers did in performance. Supposedly, this was the age of over-embellishment that Rossini hated, but these embellishments, though very difficult, don't draw attention to themselves, but rather they fit into the dramatic whole. The embellishments of the 20th century drew attention to themselves and even if they were not as difficult as the original type they seemed flashier because of the high note endings. One decoration that was used often in old days was the trill. We hear it well here. This review has been dry in many ways, but I am attempting to share what to expect in this "authentic" recording on authetic instruments. This is not a textbook reading of the score, but a very real living interpretation that tries to recapture the score as performed in the day in which it was written. I think they were very successful, and it is refreshing to hear. However, being a creature of the 20th century, I have to admit, I miss the excesses we have come to associate with this opera. Still, an extremely excellent opera and a good buy."
A Naked Lucia
Giles Bernard J. Hall | Tasmania; Australia | 03/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Why Another Lucia?" you say. Well in fact this is not just another Lucia, but the original 1835 version. I thank Sir Charles for having the good sense to return to Donizetti's original 1835 draft. Now we can finally hear what the man wrote, without all that ornamentation. It still has plenty of coloratura embelishments in it & Andrea Rost handles them with sharp precission. Gone of course are the high endings, but there are still plenty of high notes to get the blood rushing. The lower endings also sound more natural. Remembering that early sopranos were not trained to project high notes like our singers of today. Their strength was in the chest register. With a well balanced cast, chorus & orcheatra, Sir Charles has swept us back to the original production. Andrea Rost is a first rate Lucia and should not be compared to previous Lucias, like (our) Joan Sutherland, Calas or the likes, as she is performing a completely different opera, one where there is no rival. Caballé did do a straight version some years back, but that was so ...awful it should never have been recorded let alone released. This peformance, however, is so "Alive" you can actually feel the atmosphere of a full production. Anthony Michaels-Moore, Bruce Ford & Alistair Miles are perfect in their respective roles. The blending of Michaels-Moore & Ford's voices in the Act ll duet: "Ah! O sole, più ratto" sends shivers up my spine. The rest of the soloists are equally as good. The London Voices are extremely convincing in their role and the Hanover Band with original instruments; well they are something else. What an orchestra, under the direction of Sir Charles Mackerras deliver a chilling score.
I cannot stop playing this version & I thank Sony for bringing it to us.
I do want to say that I still love the Joan Sutherland version, but I find myself playing this Original Version more.
For those of you who cannot make up your minds which version to buy (presuming you have neither); I would strongly recommend this one, without any apologies. But we all have different tastes & I would not push my views or opinions onto anyone. You have to decide which version YOU like. I only suggest that you give this recording a hearing; knowing that it is a diffent version. Listen to both versions & if still undecided then bye the two & have the best of both worlds."
Frank Paris | Beaverton, OR USA | 10/30/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'd just like to thank Sir Charles for being alive, for producing works like this. He continues to amaze me with his brilliant performances. This is by far the most exciting Lucia I have ever heard, and I think it is because he goes whole hog in his matchless style with both the orchestra and the vocalists, which he is able to do because the two forces are so well-balanced on period instruments. I only hope this starts a trend and we see more 19th century bel canto recordings on original instruments."