Crider embraces Amelia's sorrow with shimmering beauty...
Bob Smith | Port Crane, NY USA | 10/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording of BALLO should be in every serious Verdi lovers collection. Leech, of course, dominates this version with a heart rendering pathos rarely heard nowadays. His tenor is warm and lush in the middle and secure with a thrusting top; plying out the kings desperation. Crider is a revelation. Her lovely soprano finds no difficulty tackling this role and she scores a hit with the big second act aria, "Ecco l'orrido campo". She embraces Amelia's sorrow with shimmering beauty. And how refreshing to have a dramatic soprano who gives us that lush chest voice and not a mere whisper. Bayo is sparkling as the page; her bell like soprano magical in its delivery. The only negative is Chernov, whose interpretation is adequate but the voice can't meet the demands. His sound is pushed and tremulous with an annoying forced and uneven vibrato. He should have stayed in bed for this recording. Rizzi manages his orchestra with finesse; pulling out the rich and hautingly lovely nuances of the Ballo score. Kudos for the fine chorus aptly led by Gareth Jones. Zaremba does a good turn with Ulrica, but one longs for the mezzo of another Pia Tassinari from the old Cetra days."
Crider caresses the Verdi line most lovingly...
Bob Smith | Port Crane, NY USA | 10/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This particular set is well worth having in your collection, particularly if you're a Verdi fan. Rizzi evokes a strong reading from the orchestra of the Welsh National Opera, however some of his choice in tempi are a bit perplexing. The brief overature, lovely as it is, seems to drag on veiled by a cloak of lethargy. The soloists for the most part, make this recording and most noteworthy is tenor Richard Leech as the ill- fated king. Leech is the possessor of a lovely and rich middle with a soaring free top. His interpretation portrays our protagonist ardor and flippancy, despair and revelation. Leech can and does, deliver the goods. Michele Crider has a gorgeous full bodied voice and lovingly caresses the Verdi line. Her dramatic soprano has no difficulties negotiating the demands of this score. Her big second act aria, 'Ecco l'orrido campo' is not only beautifully executed (listen to Crider's impeccable phrasing and the way she colors her tone) but she manages the ascending climax with total confidence and produces an anchored lower register which is thrilling. So many sopranos manage the top but wither out where the low rich chest register is required but never realized.Maria Bayo sparkles as the page. Her bell like tones and silvery timbre are a delight. Her arias are most impressive but it is in the large ensembles where Bayo is a standout. Vladimir Chernov as Renato is the weakest link vocally. Though there are moments where we hear a rich a warm sound, there are equal moments (too many) where the voice appears forced and his tone, tremulous. Perhaps he wants his audience to hear him 'working', but it left this listener frustrated and exhausted.Elena Zaremba manages the difficulties of Ulrica and even has the feel for the spooky enchantress. Her tone however, is dry and void. While she has the potential for an Ulrica, one still longs for a Pia Tassinari from the old Cetra days.Gareth Jones has success with his chorus who add to this thrilling score with aplomb."
Great singers let down by so-so conducting
Robert Petersen | Durban, South Africa | 08/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The singers rule this set of Un Ballo - in my opinion there is not one single weak link in this cast. Crider being one of my favourite sopranos sings Amelia with feeling and security in both lower and top registers. I find her much more preferable to Martina Arroyo, whose lower register is weak and she seems to glosses over the text, although she sings the role well enough. Some may find Crider's tone jarring and her technique beyond reproach, but she still scores in my books, and she does this well! Leech and Chernov are excellent in their respective parts, with both Zaremba and Bayo offering fine support. The letdown in this set is the slack conducting of Carlo Rizzi. I think the cast and orchestra would have been more inspired with a Muti or Solti. Imagine that.................! PS Having heard Crider live in AIDA a few years ago, I cannot wait to hear Crider Amelia at the MET later this year."