BEAUTIFUL LIVE DOCUMENT OF TWO GREAT SINGERS IN THEIR YOUTH
L. Mitnick | Chicago, Illinois United States | 10/26/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The sound on this live recording is not at all bad ---- prfetty much what you would expect from a 1961 live broadcast. It certainly sounds better than many others of this vintage (and far better than some of the live Callas stuff EMI has seen fit to release), and the ear very quickly becomes adjusted to the actual sound of what must have been a radio broadcast. At this point in her career, Renata Scotto seemed to have a very different vocal destiny from that for which she was later to become noted. The voice, as heard here, is light, agile, and is trippingly used in impressive demonstrations of her coloratura technique. Her Amina is certainly convincing, and if some of the poetry that Callas brings out eludes her, she nevertheless delivers a beautiful and completely valid presentation of the title role. Alfredo Kraus, also very young at this time, sounds as though the role of Elvino were written especially for him. His duet work with Scotto is exemplary bel canto singing, and in his second act aria, he interpolates, I believe, an optional top D which I have not heard attempted before. What a wise singer he was --- to have never strayed from this type of repertoire, and to have sustained a career which took him into his sixties in excellent vocal condition. Nello Santi was not a giant among opera conductors, but he understood the intimate nature of this opera, and he paces the music with grace and elegance. Frankly, I am surprised that this recording is as good as it is. I knew that Scotto and Kraus would be wonderful, but I didn't expect their voices to emerge with such clarity. Since neither Scotto or Kraus recorded their roles in "Sonnambula" commercially in the studio, this live recording is of definite value to anyone interested in these two great artists. Highly recommended."