Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Giuseppe Verdi, Georg Solti, RCA Italiana Opera Orchestra|
Listen to Samples
3 Great Knights
Nemo | 04/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have owned this recoring for 35 years on vinyl and CD and also saw Sir Georg and Sir Geraint in the Zeffirelli production at Covent Garden: it has always been my favourite version of my favourite Verdi. Sir Georg brings brilliance and sparkle as well as lyrical loveliness to the snatches of melody and Sir Geraint's is a richly rounded portrait of Sir John. The highlight of the recording is the duet with Robert Merill, terminating in Falstaff arriving "in his Sunday" best: the violin melody here is a delight."
Marc Musnick | 07/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you love this opera, which I do, then this recording must be a part of your collection. I gave it four out five stars only because Solti seems to be confusing energy with a bombastic approach. There's nothing subtle here about the conducting.
Soloists are first class and what a cast it is.
I have another reservation abou the recording and that has to do with engineering. The recorded sound is at times muddy. There's distortion too here and there which have to do with the master tape used. It's an old recording but it is too bad Decca couldn't find a better master."
A son-of-Toscanini performance that shoots off fireworks
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 02/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Solti began as a protege of Toscanini and kept his mentor's tense, propulsive style intact for almost fifty years after Toscanini's death. It comes as no surprise, then, that this riveting Falstaff, which shoots off fireworks in all directions, competes with the famous account on RCA from Toscanini, arguably his greatest opera recording. Solti is even more tightly cinched, however, and there are times when his insistence on dramatic tension needs to be more yielding. Surely the pace needs to slow down for the tener duets between the young lovers, Fenton and Nanneta (beatifully sung by Mirella Freni and Alfredo Kraus), but not here: Solti sets brisk tempos and adheres to them.
Therefore, this performance isn't one in which you fall in love with any of the characters; they aren't given much breathing room to expand in humanity. On the other hand, for sheer excitement and brilliance of execution, it would be hard to surpass this set. Every singer is first-rate, and that's crucial in an opera so dependent on ensemble singing. Luckily, there's not a weak link to be heard anywhere -- few rivals can boast of the same. And for all his explosive tendencies, Solti doesn't turn the opera into a gross or driven caricature of Verdi's comic intentions.
Any performance rises and falls on Falstaff himself, and the Welsh baritone Geraint Evans, a beloved fixture at Covent Garden for many years, is superb. For pure singing, he outdoes Tito Gobbi for Karajan, and he doesn't fall into the histrionic exaggerations of Fischer-Dieskau for Bernstein and Terfel for Abbado. Many aficionados demand an Italian with buffo manners in this role. Fro them, Evans may be too un-Italianate and serious. But he's a great vocal actor, and frankly, an unmannered, more human Falstaff comes as a relief, especially one who really sings the part note for note. Is Evans funny? Not especially, but without visible stage business, humor isn't one of the opera's greatest strengths on record. What dominates instead is Verdi's miraculous, mercurial orchestral writing, and here Solti brings out every detail with bright vividness.
To my ears, this Falstaff belongs just below the classic versions from Toscanini (RCA) and Karajan (EMI), pace those collectors who have delved into the archives of historical reissues, of which there are many fine examples. One final note: this bargain version has no libretto, notes, or synopsis.
Here's a listing of the memorable cast:
Sir John Falstaff - Geraint Evans
Mistress Quickly - Giulietta Simionato
Alice Ford - Ilva Ligabue
Ford - Robert Merrill
Nanneta - Mirella Freni
Fenton - Alfredo Kraus
Meg Page - Rosalind Elias
Dr Cajus - John Lanigan
Bardolfo - Piero de Palma
Pistola - Giovanni Foiani
RCA Italiana Opera Orchestra & Chorus
Sir Georg Solti