Lucia Popp and Reri Grist delightful in charming recording
daniel0302 | New York, NY United States | 09/08/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Mozart lover may prefer one of the two recent "historically informed" recordings (Mariner; PHILIPS or Harnoncourt; TELDEC), but this charming recording from 1967 is a good supplement to one of these recordings and will make a delightful addition to any collection on its own. The mid-price release adds to this recording's appeal. This opera is one of Mozart's earliest (1775) and the delightful music looks forward to "The Abduction from the Seraglio" and beyond. The listener's attention naturally focuses on Reri Grist in the protaganist trouser role of Alminta, and on the very young Lucia Popp in one of her earliest recorded portrayals as Elisa. Fans of either of these great singers will not want to miss out on this recording. Grist sings a beautiful version of "L'Amero, sara constante", the one well known "hit" aria from this piece. The role is often given to a larger voiced soprano or lyric mezzo, but Grist handles the task well and gives an engaging performance. She uses her light voice to good effect for both the music and the character. Popp here posseses the vibrant, glittering and pointed coloratura sound that one also hears on her recording of the Queen of the Night in Klemperer's "Magic Flute" (EMI). The role here is not nearly so showy, but her two arias allow for some vocal fireworks nonetheless. She puts across the score convincingly, making a good case for the unfamiliar music. Arlene Saunders makes a fine contribution, and provides a different, darker and warmer vocal color in nice contrast to the reedy and shimmering sounds of Grist and Popp. Luigi Alva fares the least well of the soloists and is the recordings weak link. Well known at the time for his Rossini roles, here the coloratura demands of Allesandro are too much for him, and his arias are tiresome for the listener. Compensation is found in the lovely and musical singing of Nicola Monti in the supporting tenor role. Monti brings attractive tone and fluid agility to his music.Denis Vaughan is not a star conductor as one finds on the other two versions noted above, but he keeps the performance in motion and obviously respects the material. Contemporary tastes call for a lighter touch, but this is a good example of modern instrument performance style in its time.Unfortunately, RCA's "Opera Treasury" series of reissued recordings comes up a little short with the booklets. Included is a libretto and translation, synopsis, tracking numbers, and the credits. This is just fine when the recording is of a well known opera, but with "Il Re Pastore", as well as some of the other releases in this series, the opera's relative obscurity calls for some notes."