Humperdinck in Italian? Absolutely!!!
William S. Levison | Valdosta, GA United States | 07/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This live (Milan) performance is a wonderful companion to the EMI classic version, which was recorded the same year (if I'm not mistaken--1954). The two versions share the dynamic conducting of Karajan and the exquisite Gretel of Schwarzkopf. Jurinac is a wonderful Hansel, and the rest of the cast is as good as it gets, with the unfamiliar (to me) Vittoria Palombini as hammy a Witch as any German hexe but a much better singer than most. How does it sound in Italian? Unfamiliar, of course, but ultimately just fine--certainly better than in English. The sound is clean mono with virtually no audience noise--the attendees were obviously even more enchanted than I. In summary, this issue illustrates what Opera d'Oro can do best: present a unique, historic recording at an unbeatable price."
A great H & G, relaxing in sunny Italy
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 02/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the early Fifties Karajan had a relationship with Italian Radio that produced remarkable studio broadcasts of the Magic Flute (with Schwarzkopf singing her only Pamina on record) and this Hansel und Gretel, both sung in Italian. There's also a Stravinsky Oedipus Rex that I've not heard. The RIAS orchestra doesn't compete with the Philharmonia on Karajan's famed commerical EMI recording from 1953, but he keeps them together and produces excellent results.
The 1954 radio mono sound is good enough, and the singers are in fine form. On the EMi recording both lead roles were sopranos (Schwarzkopf and Grummer), while here the Hansel is the darker-voiced mezzo Sena Jurinac, who sometimes is listed as a soprano. I find that the leads are less coy than on the comemrical recording, which is all to the good given the sugar overload we are in for. Karajan takes the music seriously, which is also to my taste. All the supporting roles are taken by better singers than on the EMI set, in particular Rita Streich as the Sandman. As a bargain set, this Opera d'Oro issue is impossible to pass up. I'm tempted to call it the best performance I've ever heard."