Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Robert Shaw Chorale|
Leoncavallo: I Pagliacci
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BEAUTIFULLY SUNG BUT BLOODLESS
lesismore26 | Chicago, Illinois USA | 12/13/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This 1954 "Pagliacci" is probably the best-sung version of this opera ever to have been recorded. Moreover, the sound has been digitally remastered, and the results are good enough to make it a valid contender. Rarely has this one-act shocker been as lavishly cast as it is here. Jussi Bjoerling only performed the role of Canio in "Pagliacci" a few times onstage during his career, probably because his basically lyric tenor would have been pushed beyond its endurance in this very heavy role. On this recording, however, he sings beautifully, without ever pushing for volume and power. His voice, of course, was one of the greatest of the century and his "Vesti la guibba" is really something to hear and cherish. For sheer singing, he cannot be faulted for anything, but to me Bjoerling sounds curiously detached and uninvolved, but in his case it was his voice that was his glory, and his presence in this recording is a real luxury. The luxury is further augmented by the presence of two of the greatest baritones of the period ---- Leonard Warren, who sings a superb Tonio (and who operates at a somewhat higher degree of intensity than does Bjoerling) ---- and Robert Merrill who is given a role which has one requirement: that he sing beautifully in the love duet with the soprano, which Merrill certainly does. Compounded into this plethora of vocal gold is the legendary soprano Victoria de los Angeles, who sings a very beautiful and lyrical Nedda, but this is a character who is torn by conflict, remorse, and real anxiety. Unfortunately, de los Angeles sounds a little staid and mature-sounding, and where she should be powerful, she sounds merely petulant. Thus we have a Nedda and Canio who seem uninvolved in the drama, which of course takes a lot of punch out of the performance. Part of the problem may be the conductor. Renato Cellini was a competent conductor in his time, but he opts here for a very static and serene approach to this opera which I find to be inappropriate to meet the needs of the drama. I would recommend this performance of "Pagliacci" solely for the caliber of the singing, which is exemplary, though cool and to my ears, very reserved. This recording has another advantage: it is packaged by itself, whereas most other recordings of "Pagliacci" couple it with "Cavalleria Rusticana", its operatic "twin". Of course, if you want both operas, you might try the classic EMI coupling with Callas, di Stefano, Gobbi and Panerai --- conducted by the veteran Tullio Serafin. On two CD's at mid-price, and with highly dramatic and intense performances from its cast, it makes a great first-choice for these operas (in good remastered mono sound). But if you want a "Pagliacci" by itself, and if you are primarily interested in beautiful singing, you are bound to appreciate this recording."
Fabulously cast Pag
John F. Schlesinger | London | 03/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I tend to disagree with the other reviewers (especially the one that thinks Leonard Warren is a tenor, but also the one that thinks Bjoerling has a lyric tenor), perhaps because I am besotted with the (spinto) voice of Jussi Bjoerling. I spend an entire afternoon comparing Bjoerling's final aria (No, Pagliacco non son) with the others in my collection. Cura can't compare. Caruso is strikingly similar but doesn't have the vocal colour. How anyone can hear this performance and say he is uninvolved defeats me. The second half of the aria has every emotion (fury, depression and hate) so clearly delimited. The final curse with its faultless notes above the staff integrated into the line (even Caruso can't do this) is heartbreaking.If you want to hear great singing this is a great performance."
Don't listen to the other reviewers
Jon Ludwig | Australia | 02/20/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What an opera! The great singing of Warren, Bjorling, and de los Angeles has never been equalled. The only rival I have to this recording is with Corelli, Gobbi and Amara, both are very different but compeling.In this recording Bjorling makes Canio into a person with some honour, a person everyone can relate to not just a man who's emotions range from jealous to cold blooded killer, (he makes canio into what Callas made medea). The ease and absolute passions rage in his voice unlike anyone I have heard. Warren for me is the greates tenor of all time along with Gobbi. Their is now a live recording of Warren, Raoul Jobin, Albenese in Pagliacci which is a must for anyone who wants to hear this opera in all its height of passion. However Warren here delivers a compeling Tonio, with all the insight of decades of performances. His lust and creapy nature all come alive in Warrens vocal timbre, (listen to his totally creapy Scarpia). Finally de los Angeles shows how easily her voice sat in verisimo roles, she delivers the trills and high notes equal of a bel cantoist but with the voice that suit.This recording out does any conteporary singers, their is no yelling, and awful timbres in this recording. Plus, it is really cheap for a single CD, what a bargin the great Bjorling, Warren, and de los Angeles for mid price. Bravo!!!!"