james gentry | Sacramento, CA | 05/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"anyone who likes Donizetti or Bel Canto can not help but enjoy this wonderful performance. It goes beyond saying that Gencer is absolutely fabulous and dare I say comparable to Callas, but, as well, you get an outstanding S. Verrett, F. Tagliavini, etc. The only performance of this work that I feel surpasses this performance is the Naples performance a couple of years later ---also with Gencer, Verrett but with Oncina and Rossi as conductor."
An Electrifying Performance
Rudy Avila | Lennox, Ca United States | 11/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an old recording with some bad sound quality, as can be expected of a live recording but it is one heck of a performance. The Turkish soprano Leyla Gencer was a great singer in her own right at the time of Maria Callas. Leyla Gencer sang much of the same material Callas sang- Norma, La Vestale and the revivals of Anna Bolena and in this case Maria Stuarda. Leyla Gencer possessed a powerful, dramatic voice and her acting was always incredible. In this recording, fans will also be pleased she is singing opposite Shirley Verrett, a successful African-American mezzo-soprano/high soprano. Verrett had a long and remarkable career singing Tosca, Aida, Lady Macbeth, Norma as well as the mezzo roles of Azucena, Adalgisa and many others. Verrett as Queen Elizabeth I is a majestic performance. She is jealous, proud and haughty. Everything comes through in her performance.
It is of course a vehicle for Leyla Gencer's talents. Gencer as Maria Stuarda is a solid gold rendition. She is not willing to stay a victim. She is noble, but her fate at the end is controlled by the Queen and by politics. Leyla Gencer gets applause at all the dramatic moments, especially intense is the confrontation scene at Fotheringay in which she insults Queen Elizabeth by calling her a [...] daughter of Anne Boylen. Shirley Verrett has also sung in Anna Bolena, another Tudor Queen opera of Donizetti, in the role of Lady Jane Seymour, which is a far grander interpretation in comparison to the Queen here. In that role, she sang opposite Beverly Sills on recording. Verrett also worked with Sills as Neocle in Rossini's L'Assedio Di Corinto which was Beverly Sills' long awaited Met debut. This is a great recording for fans of both Leyla Gencer and Shirley Verrett, who are really two great queens of opera themselves."