Verdi, Tebaldi, Bergonzi Giovanna d'Arco Genre:Classical Although "Giovanna d'Arco ("Joan of Arc") was quite successful in its day, it has not fared well outside of Italy in modern times, due to objections and controversy concerning both its text and music. It remains one of Ver... more »di's least-heard operas. Nevertheless, in the hands of exceptional artists, "Giovanna d'Arco" can make a vivid impression even today, and never in recent times has it been more aptly performed than with the title role sung by Italian soprano Renata Tebaldi, who made something of a specialty of this opera and was generally conceded to own the part. Live performance, Milan, March 26, 1951.« less
Although "Giovanna d'Arco ("Joan of Arc") was quite successful in its day, it has not fared well outside of Italy in modern times, due to objections and controversy concerning both its text and music. It remains one of Verdi's least-heard operas. Nevertheless, in the hands of exceptional artists, "Giovanna d'Arco" can make a vivid impression even today, and never in recent times has it been more aptly performed than with the title role sung by Italian soprano Renata Tebaldi, who made something of a specialty of this opera and was generally conceded to own the part. Live performance, Milan, March 26, 1951.
Thrilling singers! Good music. Libretto by baboons
L. E. Cantrell | Vancouver, British Columbia Canada | 04/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Source: RAI broadcast from 1951.
Sound: So-so at best, well below the standard usually achieved in the 1950s and certainly not as good as early electrical recordings from the 1930s. The effect is very much that of listening to a broadcast on a vacuum tube AM radio ... in a 1951 Ford.
Documentation: Wretched as only Od'O can make it. No libretto. Cast list. Short summary of the plot by act. Track list showing only the names of the pieces. No timings. Little on the cast and nothing on the circumstances of the recording.
Format: Disk 1, Act I and part of Act II, 65 minutes. Disk 2, conclusion of Act II and Act III, 44 minutes.
If you can accept the sound reproduction, this is a terrific performance. Don't worry about orchestral detail, just listen to the glorious voices. "Giovanna D'Arco" was a favorite of the young Renata Tebaldi, who performed it many times. This recording lets you know why. This is down-and-dirty, all-out, big-time Italian diva singing, and even for Tebaldi it is impressive. Tebaldi is teamed with a young Carlo Bergonzi, who had just moved up from baritone to tenor. There is still a baritonal darkness in his voice, but all the ring and power that anyone could want. No tenor now singing could begin to compete with him in this opera. (If Bergonzi had been born a German, what a Tristan or Tannhaeuser he might have become!) Rolando Panerai was just 26 at the time of this recording, but he brings sonority and authority to the role of Giovanna's lunatic progenitor.
This is an opera from what Verdi described as his years in the galley. It was produced between "I due Foscari" and "Alzira." Verdi was writing for money on tight schedules and setting librettos by writers it is overpraising to call hacks. If ever a libretto was written by a baboon, it was this one. I'm not sure whether the baboon-in-chief was Schiller, on whose play "Die Jungfrau von Orleans" it was based, or Solera, who cast it into Italian doggerel. There is certainly blame enough for both to share.
Even in its first run, the libretto of "Giovanna D'Arco" was a problem because it contradicted both the facts and the popular legend of the young woman who always called herself Jehanne la pucelle (Joan the Maiden). In the opera, Giovanna encounters the despairing Charles VII of France, bucks him up and sets off to drive back the English invaders. Having won great successes on the battlefield, Giovanna is rapturously acclaimed by the French. Charles, of course, has fallen for the warrior-girl. He offers his love and is rebuffed. He departs, convinced that only a saint could have turned him down. Up pops Giovanna's beloved father, a patriotic Frenchman who doesn't want France liberated by someone in pawn to the black arts, as he considers his daughter to be. He publicly advises his little girl to purge herself of sin by allowing herself to be burnt at the stake. The crowd turns on Giovanna, thinking that her old Pa must have some inside dope. In the last act of the opera, Giovanna is a prisoner and chained to a rock to await her fate. Her father passes by and hears her prayers. Moved by her piety, he decides that he has made a mistake, after all. He releases her so that she may ride off into yet another battle. She is successful but mortally wounded. She expires in the finale, to the grief of all, especially of the king and dear old Dad.
If you manage somehow to push the fact that it has to do with Joan of Arc out of your mind, "Giovanna D'Arco" is full of good tunes and rousing choruses. Verdi was still adhering to traditional forms and walking in the well-trodden path of Donizetti and Bellini, but he had already replaced their decorated melodies with a sheer strength unknown to the older masters. In his years in the galley, Verdi developed all the tools of greatness but he still awaited a librettist who would provide him with a character into whom he could breathe life, a Rigoletto, Violetta or Azucena.
Ignore the story--please! Forget the sound. Get this one for the thrilling voices of incomparable singers.
Best Giovanna so far...
Patzie | SF Peninsula, USA | 01/30/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Easy to see why the young Tebaldi "owned" this role; she brings an "oomph" to this role that I have not experienced in recorded performances since. Sound is actually OK, once the ear adjusts, and is well worth putting up with for such an impassioned performance. Libretto would have been helpful, but it's about par for this reissuer."
PERFECT VERDIAN SINGING!
Armindo | Greece | 08/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
A GREAT new release by Opera d'oro! Giovanna D'Arco is not one of Verdi's most popular opera but listening to this set makes me wonder why. The music is so beautiful and the characters so heroic.
Opera fans and critics regard this particular recording as historical. Firstly, it shows the quality of the young Renata Tebaldi and sets the record straight. In the early 50s she could sing almost anything! Many think of her as a great verisimo diva but listening to Tebaldi here we realise she could have specialised in a different repertoire as well. Early Verdi never sounded so powerful and beautiful. Although Caballe's later Giovanna is perfectly sung, she doesn't have the fierce sound Joan D'Arc requires. Just listen to what Tebaldi does: in the "Sempre all'llba" she sounds like an angel but in "Pronta sono!" she changes and becomes a mighty warrior, exactly what the role requires. Tebaldi definitely benefited from her experience with this role on stage; a role she performed early in her carreer and became her own.
But the perfection does not end with Renata. Carlo Bergonzi, the best post-war (Verdi) tenor is heard here just after his conversion from baritone to tenor. His vocal beauty and perfection is equalled only by Gigli's. The first act duets with Tebaldi are simply ecstatic. This is what Verdi is all about! Panerai's Giacomo is a marvel to listen to though he cannot make me forget the two main principals. Finally, I certainly prefer Simonetto's slower conducting than Levine's later fast and loud one. Unfortunately the sound quality not ideal (I couldn't care less) but compared to the previous releases, the improvement is substantial. I can't remember the last time I heard such an all-around great Verdi recording. DON'T MISS THIS!!!
BDSinC | Calgary, Alberta, Canada | 01/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I came to this opera first from hearing a couple of arias sung on a Caballe recording of Verdi Rarities, then by buying her full recording of the opera years later. I found it interesting, even at times exciting, but in the end I have to admit I have not listened to that recording much at all, no matter how fine the singing (and the trade-mark pianissimo of Caballe is in abundance, actually TOO abundant). I was given this opera as a Christmas present. I have to say, has my opinion of the opera ever changed. It is still filled with much beautiful music, but now contains so much dramatic music I never knew was there. The music always was there, it was just never performed that way in the other recording. Tebaldi could sing ever so well, and handle coloratura very easily in this time of her career. The other singers also sing with life and vitality matching her in all scenes and at all times when they sing together. The sound is terrible compared to the studio recording, but the atmosphere is electric. The story of Joan is not in the slightest a reflection of history, and that could be why it has never caught on as an opera (it didn't catch on in its day either, and Verdi had very little nice to even say about it; it was even rearranged in his day, by others, and call the lesbian of France, and who knows what intrigues happened on the stage then). It may not be the best Verdi, but really, he had nothing whatever to be ashamed of. It is early Verdi, and it is obvious he is still finding his own voice in some ways. The work, when performed like in this recording, never lags and leaves us bored. It races right along and really is thrilling to listen to. I am left wondering what this performances actually looked like on the stage, as it is magnificently thrilling on record. It is well worth the price and the time to listen to. And don't let the primitive sound put you off. Even with that, it out shines most everything we see today on the stage itself. Even the warts and bumps of performance make it a treasure and add something we never see now days. Would that we had such energetic singers again to sing for us."