"This recording made me rave that I was born too late to hear the production live! The spectators seem to be raving too - about the fact that they were born at exactly the right time and place to witness it... :) The recording is perfect! Alva radiates warmth and perfectly captures Almaviva's youthful ardor. He is also irresistibly comic as Almaviva-the drunken officer and soft-spoken music teacher. The vivid and delicately comic performance of Callas as Rosina is superb, and Gobbi's rich baritone is capable of expressing any emotion! He is perfect as the scheming barber! And, of course, Rossi-Lemeni's performance as a music teacher with dictation problems is a pure delight to listen to!
I suppose the only drawback of this CD is the poor sound quality... Of course, 1956 and a live recording, but still... Oh well, after all what good would be to us the Coliseum if it was brand-new and shiny? It is the old, half-ruined Coliseum with grass growing between ancient stones, that awakens our imagination! ;-}"
Buyer beware: poor sound, missing scene
zhaow | 09/18/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"this cd is missing the letter scene between bartolo and rossina near the end of the second act. it seems to have been omitted since there is a noticeable break in the music where this exchange should be. anyway, without it the final confrontation between almaviva and rossina doesn't make any sense. the sound is also muddled. it sounds like it was recorded by a hand-held recorder. it definitely wasn't a radio broadcast. the voices come through, but it falls far short of a studio recording."
Callas Booed at LaScala!!!!
Phillip T. Lewis | Nashville, TN USA | 01/07/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In the middle of this unassuming recording something amazing happens. After a successful aria "Una voce poca fa" Callas hits a strident note at the end of the Lesson Scene and is jeered after Alva's line "Bella voce" (beautiful voice). However, after Alva repeats the line, in order to emphasize his colleague's abilities, the crowd is silenced. It is an amazing example of the politics of Italian opera in the 1950's."
Much more fun than Callas's studio Barber of Seville
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 02/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The main singers in this live Barber from La Scala--Callas, Gobbi, and Alva--also appear in EMI's studio recording from London in 1958. They were certainly good there, but before an audience the entire performance soars higher. It's funnier, fizzier, and (thankfully) rambunctious. Gobbi's Largo al factotum would bring down the house anytime anywhere--he shouts, mugs, and tears up the stage. (You also won't believe the speed with which he rattles off the patter at the end of the aria.)
Callas dipped into the mezzo range for Rosina, and as famed as her commerical recording is, I've always thought that she lacked the comic touch (did Callas sing any other comic roles?) She's livelier and freer here, altoghether letting loose her corsets. Alva is impeccable as Almaviva, leaving no doubt that this was one night in a thousand. Even better is Giulini's absolutely masterful conducting, which is zippy and full of ebullience.
In all, I'm tempted to call this the greatest Barber I've ever heard, despite the patchy mono radio sound, which is pretty basic. I can't imagine a lover of Rossini doing without it."