Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Gaspare Spontini, Antonino Votto, Maria Callas|
Spontini - La Vestale / Callas · Corelli · Votto
Listen to Samples
Execrable sound; Possibly great singing (if you can hear it!
G. Dowling | St. Louis, MO, USA | 03/20/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This is the first Opera D'Oro set I bought. I saw it on a retailer's shelf with this cast (Callas, Corelli, Stignani) at a price of $10. I was totally unfamiliar then with ODO and knew the opera only from Ponselle's recordings. How can you go wrong at $10.
Then I played it! And discovered why it was $10! The sound is inexcusably awful. Everything bad that others have written about this recording's sound is accurate. I contacted the people at ODO to complain and was told that at least the sound wasn't as bad as the Mexico City Callas pirates, and they would start putting warning labels on these sets (a la EMI on their Callas pirates). I've yet to see such a label. And, for some years, never bought another ODO set. It would be truly enlightening if Naxos' Ward Marston could have a go at cleaning up this recording.
So, caveat emptor. The ODO catalogue has some marvelous things that are worth much more than $10. Don't expect librettos or extensive notes. Check reviews such as these on Borders' website. And buy cautiously. In fact, it's enlightening to go through this website, using only ODO on the "advanced search" feature -- you'll turn up 430 or so listings, many of which are easily worth the price. I now have about 40 in my collection, only a few with poor sound but with great performances. I'm glad to have them all, even the waif VESTALE which I just about never play. There are some real gems here -- so give them a try."
If the sound were better, I'd give it six stars!
madamemusico | Cincinnati, Ohio USA | 05/15/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have long felt that Maria Callas' greatest gift to the world was her revivals of classic tragic operas, long since ignored, that definitely deserved a better fate. Among these were Gluck's "Iphigenie en Tauride," Cherubini's "Medea" (possibly her signature role) and Spontini's "La Vestale," an opera with a plot similar to "Norma" but with more thoughtfully dramatic and less coloratura-bel canto music in it.Carol Vaness, with a wonderful cast and surprisingly dramatic conducting by Riccardo Muti, has since eclipsed Callas' "Iphigenie en Tauride," but no one has yet come within a light-year of her searingly intense "Medea" with the possible exception of Magda Olivero in her 1967 Dallas debut. In the case of "La Vestale," however, the Muti recording is a uniform disaster: limp, passionless singing from voices ill-suited for their roles, set to equally dull and uninteresting conducting.In this landmark 1954 performance, however, we have a unified dramatic and musical concept that projects most of the score with incredible fire as well as magnificent singing. Callas' Giulia may lack the somber dignity of Rosa Ponselle's two arias, but it gains from the way she builds the character from hopeless love to intense passion. My only complaint was her insertion of a "bel canto"-styled cadenza at one point, nice but not correct. It breaks both the line and the drama, re-routing Spontini's well-crafted score into a full minute of sheer pyrotechnical display.Franco Corelli, here at the beginning of his real career, already had the magnificent voice that Metropolitan Opera audiences came to love but had not yet begun to milk the high notes or distend the vocal line to show off the voice. In other words, he is magnificent here; this may well be his most musical performance on records.Ebe Stignani, near the end of her long and brilliant career, is simply astonishing, vocally, stylistically and dramatically. Also worthy of note are the two basses, Nicola Zaccaria and Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, both in their prime.Antonino Votto conducts a well-bound, passionate performance that includes the Act 1 ballet music not normally heard in earlier 20th-century revivals of this opera. As an overall performance, the only one close to this is the great 1969 live performance with Leyla Gencer and Robleto Merolla, which also has far superior sound, but in a way each of them complements the other. My suggestion is to buy both!A note in passing. With all the continued interest in Callas, why didn't EMI digitally remaster and clean up this performance the way they did with the 1952 "Macbeth"? As it stands, the pinched, tight and sometimes fuzzy sound really does detract from one's enjoyment. I advise listening to the Gencer recording first to gain an idea of the general shape and pace of the music, then listen to the Callas knowing what to expect. That way, you may get more out of it.Highly recommended, though. Spontini's music is really much better than you might think, and the deeper you get into this opera the more you will love it."
A PROBABLY GREAT PERFORMANCE BUT THE SOUND IS AWFUL!!!!!
L. Mitnick | Chicago, Illinois United States | 08/10/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)
"There is absolutely no question that this famous performance was an equally great one --- imagine Maria Callas, Franco Corelli, and Ebe Stignani all together!! "Vestale" was one of Callas' La Scala triumphs, and it provided her with the vehicle that opened the 1954-55 season at La Scala. The performance was broadcast, but I have yet to hear this performance in a decent sounding edition, regardless of the company that has circulated it. This is very frustrating because it could have been an invaluable addition to the Callas legacy. As it stands now, however, I cannot recommend this performance even to Callas and Corelli fanatics --- because the sound is so putrid that the voices of these great artists cannot be heard properly. Let it go!"