Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Giuseppe Verdi, Carlo Tagliabue, Dario Caselli|
Verdi: La Forza del Destino
Listen to Samples
Tremendous 1941 performance---a true winner from the past
L. E. Cantrell | Vancouver, British Columbia Canada | 02/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
This is the first more-or-less complete professional recording of "La forza del destino." It is a studio recording made for broadcast by the Italian Broadcasting Authority (EIAR). It was probably recorded in late May 1941, and most likely at Teatro di Torino in Turin. The opera was recorded in roughly four-minute takes for subsequent issuance on thirty-five 78-rpm sides (18 disks) by CETRA.
The soundscape here is an artifact of its time. The bad news is that it is noticeably dry, boxy and short of orchestral detail. I am sure that narrowly-focused audiophiles, the ones who care about such things, will be able to detect the joins of the short takes without much difficulty. As for myself, I haven't yet looked for them and do not intend to so in the future. There is undoubtedly some distortion from time to time. The good news is that none of that matters in the light of the first-rate performance. On the whole the sound is considerably more than just bearable. Live with it and wallow in the music.
Donna Leonora, a young lady trapped in a run of really bad luck - Maria Caniglia (soprano)
Don Alvaro, a young man whose love for Leonora leads to truly operatic consequences - Galliano Masini (tenor)
Don Carlo di Vargas, Leonora's brother, a young man of unforgiving nature - Carlo Tagliabue (baritone)
Preziosilla, a Gypsy girl who likes to keeps things stirred up - Ebe Stignani (mezzo-soprano)
Padre Guardiano, the Father Guardian of the monastery adjacent to the Church of Our Lady of the Angels - Tancredi Pasero (bass)
Fra Melitone, a lazy monk - Saturno Meletti (bass-baritone)
Il marchese di Calatrava, father of Carlo and Leonora/a Mayor/a surgeon - Ernesto Domenici (bass)
Curra, Leonora's lady in waiting - Liana Avogadro (mezzo-soprano)
Maestro Trabbuco - Giuseppe Nessi (tenor)
Gino Marinuzzi with the Symphony Orchestra of the Italian Broadcasting Authority and the Turin Chorus (apparently supplemented with members of the Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala, Milan.)
"La forza del destino" premiered in St Petersburg on November 10, 1862. It met with initial success but Verdi was not satisfied. After substantial revision, it re-opened at La Scala on February 27, 1869. The most important changes were the addition of the now-familiar overture and the redesign of the final scene. Originally, Alvaro, Carlo and Leonora all died at the end of the fourth act--too much of a downer in Verdi's opinion. Now, the dying Carlo stabs his sister so that she can die gracefully in the arms of the devastated Alvaro--as you can see, much jollier all around.
This recorded performance contains the standard cuts of its time and also eliminates the scene for tenor and baritone in the third act that includes the duet "Sleale! Il segreto fu dunque violato?"
Considering the political situation of 1941, the producers discreetly changed one line in a rousing second act chorus from "Morte ai Tedeschi!" (Death to Germans!) to "Morte ai nemici!" (Death to enemies!).
No libretto. Short history of the opera and a brief summary of the plot. Track list.
Maria Caniglia (1905-1979) was a prima donna assoluta of the old school--a bit rough in technique compared to the current standard of bland soprano precision, but filled with passion, fire and iron nowhere to be heard today. She was the great Italian predecessor of Tebaldi and a some very famous subsequent sopranos have done her the honor of imitation. La Caniglia thought this to be her best recording.
Galliano Masini (1896-1986), now largely forgotten, was an enormously popular tenor in the years before the Second World War. Hear him on this recording and you will understand why.
Carlo Tagliabue (1898-1978) was at his very considerable peak when this recording was made. He would re-record the role of Don Carlo di Vargas years later with Callas but with diminished vocal resources.
Ebe Stignani (1903-1974) is a charter member on any rational list of the greatest Italian mezzos of the Twentieth Century. She almost overwhelms the small part of Preziosilla, but it's a star turn nevertheless.
Tancredi Pasero (1893-1983) was one of the three great Italian basses in the years between the wars. During a career that stretched from 1926 to 1951, he was such a heavy smoker that he almost always had an assistant waiting in the wings with a lighted cigarette so that he could take a puff immediately after coming off stage.
Caniglia, Stignani, Masini, Tagliabue and Pasero may be regarded as the 1941 Italian dream cast for "La forza."
This is the only complete opera recording by Gino Marinucci (1882-1945), composer of three operas of his own as well as a symphony. He had a fine reputation as a conductor for Strauss, Wagner and Puccini. He led the premiere of "La Rondine" in 1917. He was the artistic director of the Rome Opera 1928-1934 before moving on to La Scala, where he became the manager in 1944. His handling of "La forza" is sufficient to make me regret that he never had a chance to do more operas.
If this recording from wartime Italy had been recorded in the analog stereo of 1961 or even in the high fidelity of 1954 rather than the compressed mono of 1941, I would have no hesitation about recommending it as the recording of choice for "La forza del destino." Since the sound quality is what it is, and the recording contains cuts in the text, I can only say that if you care for Verdi, or for great singing, or for truly idiomatic and incisive performances, you should rush to buy this very fine performance as your second "Forza"--the one you listen to for yourself, not the one you use to impress your audiophile friends.