A Neglected Work Given a Stellar Performance
J. Martin | Pensacola, FL | 09/28/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This performance has been around for years on various private labels all of which were in fair to horrible sound. Myto's edition is considerably better than all the rest. It is still a little grainy and the forte passages seem to fade back but it is far better than any of its predecessors.
Now to the performance. What can one say about Olivero that has not been said a thousand times? She is a treasure, a great torch-bearer of the tradition of the verismo sopranos of days that are gone forever. And most importantly, she knows how to REALLY sing. Here is a woman who took a no more than average voice, and through exhaustive study and sheer determionation used it to create the most unforgettable portrayals that span close to 5 decades! None of our supposed "consummate' sopranos today are worthy to tie her shoes, never mind fill them. Her voice is odd, and definitely not to some people's liking. Her vibrato at this point in her career was rapid and could be disconcerting, but listen to her Francesca. Listen to the smoky sensuality and tormented soul that pours out of her as she sings, listen to the way she shades her voice with 100% total vocal control and you will be listening to a lesson in vocal mastery. As for Del Monaco, it seems it is still fashionable for people to bash him, but show me one tenor among our ugly, leather-voiced "dramatic' tenors that can pour out the sound and visceral excitement he does. He is a macho lover, a true Renaissance man in this performance, and in due deference to Domingo who sang this role beautifully and whose Met run in this opera was very successful, Del Monaco tops them all. Guelfi is incredible as Gianciotto, grotesque, brutish, and frightening and the remainder of the supporting cast is first rate. The reason the recording is not 5 stars is due to the sound, definitely not the singing. I encourage everyone to have a copy of this recording in their collection. Madam Olivero (who is still with us at age 98) is the last of the truly great verismo sopranos. You will never hear singing like this again!"