Nearly ideal forces assembled for Verdi masterpiece
Steven D. Pence | Orange County, CA | 06/13/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This impressively clear recording features a performance from the 1958 Salzbourg Festspiel under the powerful baton of Von Karajan. The casting is simply wonderful. Sena Jurinac's Elisabetta is suitably weighty, yet beautiful characterization. As her lady-in-waiting, Eboli, Giulietta Simionato brings thrilling power and intensity. Her "O don fatale" is absolutely spine-tingling. Similarly, Ettore Bastianini displays an awe-inspiring beauty and fullness of tone as Rodrigo. The real treasure of this recording, however, is the Filippo II of Cesare Siepi. His voice flows like a river of chocolate through the music of the troubled, tyrranical king. His prescence alone makes this recording worth owning.Unfortunately, this set is not entirely without flaw. The performance is cut somewhat and suffers from an instance of unfortunate casting. The title character is played by one Eugenio Fernandi, who lacks the vocal goods to even make a passable attempt at the role. He begins sounding a bit strained and declines from there, often singing well flat of the note and sounding very uncomfortable above the staff.Karajan leads the Wiener Philharmoniker with all the gusto one might expect, providing an excellent atmosphere for this turbulent work."
Scroop Moth | Cheneyville, LA United States | 09/21/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"More glamorous and fun than his rival Giulini, or his later self, Herbert von Karajan here leads the Vienna Philharmonic in an enchanting, sometimes mighty, performance of Don Carlos at the 1958 Salzburg festival. The cast list brags a vastness of musical talent rarely amassed either on stage or in studio. Karajan's mastery is deep and his sense of theater is thrilling. For either beauty or drama, Karajan didn't equal himself in his later EMI studio recording, but he had none of the golden age singers on this recording, whose singing is almost always liquid, resonant, and alive.
Eugenio Fernandi, a classic example of the underrated tenor, has enough leather for grand opera, and more than enough grace, color, and subtlety to sound intriguing. He often sounds like a scaled-down Jon Vickers, just as intense and intelligent, yet personally attractive. Fernandi could not be a Vickers-school Otello or Radames. Walter Legge did hire him to sing Calaf for the Callas Turandot. He isn't Corelli either. Fernandi was a good Edgardo on stage with Callas, but even that was a role that overshadowed him unfairly.
Jurinac's exquisitely blanced and polished soprano is beautiful for Elisabetta. The other familiar singers in this performance are Giulietta Simionato, Ettore Bastianini, Cesare Siepi, Nicola Zaccaria, and Anneliese Rothenberger.
The recording favors the voices but the full mono sound does justice to the spectrum of Karajan's orchestra. And, if you've ever been there, the recording is nearly good enough to place you within the resonant cavity of the Salzburg Festspielhaus.
This is a treasurable performance to place beside your Don Carlo on the Cetra label with Rossi-Lemeni and Maria Caniglia."
A pleasing souvenir of a grand occasion
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 05/17/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For a fifty year old recording, this live Salzburg Festspiel Dokumente set is very acceptable. The overall sound picture is good: clear, undistorted mono, but there is a bit of coughing and the voices are sometimes too recessed. Karajan brings out plenty of detail in the score but is rather low-key, and at times his tempi are oddly draggy; he is unusually anonymous here. It has a great cast: despite, some previous complaints, I find the little-known Fernandi to be excellent; he was good enough to be cast alongside Callas in their recording of "Turandot". Bastianini and Siepi superb, even if the former is a little cumbersome and lacking in nuance, and the latter has moments of rocky production - but both make such a magnificent noise. The ladies are distinguished - Jurinac vibrant and pure, Simionato one of the few mezzos who can cope with the inordinate demands and range of the role of Eboli. Zaccaria makes a noble Monk. I still marginally prefer the very cheap Opera d'Oro 1970 Vienna version with Corelli, Janowitz, Ghiaurov, Talvela and Verrett, conducted by Horst Stein - a fuller version than this production, which is heavily cut and thus contained on only two discs.