L. Mitnick | Chicago, Illinois United States | 08/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There's little sense in repeating the praises already voiced here. It's Callas in all her glory, and in what is probably her most spectacular La Scala revival (and there were plenty of great Callas revivals!). The fact is that Opera d'Oro has an infinitely superior pressing of this great performance than EMI has. I own both editions, and the difference in sound is dramatic. THIS is the edition to get! Callas' voice sounds immediate and vivid, and Simionato sounds gigantic. The Act II duet between these two vocal legends is the stuff of which operatic legend is made. There are no words that can describe the greatness of this performance ------ so why should anyone else even bother?"
Even better than the EMI version!
D. Bennett | 02/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording shows Maria Callas at her very best; dramatic, emotive and often beautiful singing throughout. The supporting cast is fine. Unlike the EMI issue of this live recording, this Opera D'oro set does not have a libretto, which is unfortunate as it is unlikely that an opera fan will have very many recordings of this rare opera, however, this edition has better sound than the EMI set, clearer and better focused. This would make an excellent companion set to the Suliotis, Sutherland or Sills studio recordings as this is the most dramatic and moving of any versions available on CD in my opinion, although it cannot compete with the excellent sound on those recordings
Very Highly Recommended "
Callas in her most famous revival!
D. Bennett | 07/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Anna Bolena is one of my favourite Bel Canto operas. F. Romani was again (like in most Bel Canto masterpieces: Norma, Lucrezia Borgia etc) responsible for the libretto and the result is magnificent!
With Maria Callas in the title role, we have Anna Bolena at her most dramatic. Her interpretation gives life to the opera even if vocally she shows a few strains and runs out of breath in the climax of "a dolce guidami". She is partnered with excellent artists: The spectacular G. Simionato, the aged but still credible N. Rossi-Lemeni and the neglected but superb G.Raimondi as Percy. Gavazzeni's masterful conducting completes this historical achievement. I, however, cannot understand why Callas did not persuade EMI to record this opera in studio(as well as Macbeth,Ernani,Nabucco).
Concluding, this is probably the best Anna Bolena (though cut). The sound quality is sufficient for 50s standards. Frankly, I do prefe listening to Soulioti's studio set since sound is important to me and Soulioti is also wonderful if also already a bit past her prime. Other great Annas you should consider are Gencer and the new Greek operatic sensation Dimitra Theodossiou.
In any case, this is a landmark recording!If you want the libretto go for the EMI set instead of this budget Opera d'oro release."
La Divina on a great evening
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 02/26/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Let's get the niggles out of the way first. The sound here is woolly live mono and only two of the singers - Callas and Simionato - are really top class. Rossi-Lemeni's bass is typically as woolly as the sound and Gabriella Carturan as Smeton is frankly an embarrassment; I am surprised that no other review I have seen has commented on this fact. The score is heavily cut and Opera d'Oro of course provides no libretto in this bargain edition.
Having said that, the sound provided is markedly superior to that of the "official" EMI edition; according to the OUP article "A Callas Recording Update" (2005) by Robert E. Seletsky, this set is "cloned from the glorious GOP version" and "should make EMI ashamed of its blurred, semi-tone-flat insult to this great performance." So you are getting the best sound available as cheaply as possible. The audience at La Scala that April evening were remarkably quiet; furthermore, the performance is conducted by the ever-reliable Gavazzeni. To cap it all, we find Callas and Simionato both in blazing form in one of Donizetti's most dramatic and successful operas. I have often remarked that the decline in Callas's voice was not linear or progressive but rather fitful and unpredictable; here as relatively late as 1957 Callas is in imperious form and a top C is still in place, despite a slight waver. She is in command of both her voice and the stage: technically astonishing and dramatically compelling. Similarly, Simionato is said to have claimed this as her finest live performance. Whether this is true is irrelevant; she is clearly in sterling voice, and we are treated to an arresting partnership of two of the greatest singers and two of the most theatrical animals in post-war opera.
Raimondi is more than serviceable in the much-reduced tenor part of Percy, although the luke-warm applause he elicits from the audience suggests that they were less than enraptured. You can also hear Callas in the last scene, in much better studio sound in her selection of "Mad Scenes", recorded the following year in London and conducted by Rescingo. I love that version and wish it had been part of a complete studio recording; but for a very different, and equally valid interpretative experience with a superior supporting cast, there is Beverley Sills' studio set conducted by Rudel. However, the pathos and involvement of this live performance, which emerge so cleanly in this Opera d'Oro mastering compared with the disgraceful EMI issue, make it essential listening."