Good performance of a minor work
John Cragg | Delta(greater Vancouver), B.C Canada | 10/16/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am lucky enough to have two versions of Rossini's Armida, this one and one conducted by Gatti with Renee Flemming. Of the two this version is clearly superior. Armida is a rather peculiar opera, with one soprano role, six tenor roles and two bass roles. The tenors can to a large extent be doubled as can the bass roles, the lack of real dramatic coherence being indicated by the way in which so many of the characters do not interact with each other.One of the main strengths of this recording is the conducting by Claudio Scimone of a first-class and sympathetic orchestra and a great chorus. As Gatti's unfortunate performance demonstrates, this work needs solid direction to make it at all coherent and this Scimone provides. The tenors produce some very fine singing indeed and they have sufficiently distinctive voices to help keep the drama alive in aural form alone. Chris Merritt in the principal male role gives a well-balanced and satisfying rendition. Bruce Ford and William Matteuzzi, each of whom sings two roles, also do very well; indeed, I can't remember hearing a better performance by Bruce Ford. The central figure in the opera is Armida herself. Only here is there real competition from the alternative set. I actually prefer Cecilia Gasdia's interpretation, partly because Flemming, though more spectacular, is poorly recorded, but many would find Flemming preferable.This set only provides the libretto in Italian only, while the rival does have translations into English, German and French.Overall, however, there is no real competition to this set. It is not the best Rossini, but it does provide an enjoyable, well executed work."
A good reading
Reynaldo Pulido | Caracas, Venezuela | 03/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This difficulty opera- because of the large part of the soprano and the six roles for tenor - has a vivid music and Scimone knows how to express all the colours of the score, as those composed for the bright world of knights, as those composed for the witch's dark and mysterious world. All parts are well sung by the four tenor in this version (Matteuzzi and Ford sing two roles each that never coincided on stage), and Gasdia with a darker voice than her old young years, give to Armida the drama she need and Callas succesfully did. Of course, you must know Gasdia won a Callas' contest and her voice is similar to the greek-american diva.
Good booklet, with libretto and articles, this is one of the recordings people who loves Rossini must have, cosidering the almost whole rossinian cast. I never listened other version, but I know that the Serafin to Callas jewel, has its used cuts."
No drawbacks at all!
Esteban Molina | San Francisco | 10/26/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think the other three reviewers are accurate in their assessment. [There is a fourth reviewer who gives one star for reasons which do not signify.] I want to say that I know only one recording of "Armida", the 1952 Maggio Musicale set with Callas. She is spectacular; the rest of the cast get through their parts without undue mishap; but. . .the sound is not good. Having said that, enough Callas comes through to make that live performance a touchstone - not for technical reproduction, but for vocal and dramatic interpretation. With that said, and having heard that performance so often, I can say that nothing in this Gasdia performance disappoints and in fact it is a delight throughout. Whether it is minor Rossini or not, I'll let scholars debate; all I know is that I enjoy it! All of it: Gasdia and her tenors. There isn't a cringe moment to be heard anywhere. The only slight, very slight, disappointment is that Gasdia doesn't end the opera on a show-stopper high note, a la Callas. Since I'm used to it and it fits so well, I miss it. But I'll survive - and I think you will as well if you choose to buy. I really do enjoy this set very much. I hope you will as well."