Filippo Secondo | 09/08/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This undated (early '80s?) ERNANI from Trieste, conducted by Molinari-Pradelli, stars Merighi (Ernani), Zampieri (Elvira), Cappuccilli (Don Carlo), and Ferrin (Silva). The set's main disappointment is sonic: apart from the noise of a low-quality tape-recorder, the voices sometimes sound rather distant (suffering excessively more than any other part from both faults, Act 3 is simply unlistenable). Of the four soloists, only Cappuccilli is really outstanding: pity that his classic Carlo wasn't recorded commercially, though he wouldn't have been allowed - as he is here - to end his Act 3 aria with a spine-chilling high note. The unknown Merighi is lightweight (ie slightly unheroic), while the little-known Ferrin's dark timbre is appropriately menacing. Zampieri struggles to 'sing' (rather than 'perform') her role: the one memorable exception in this undramatic protrayal is an intelligent pause in the finale (seldom attempted by other sopranos), occurring between 'affrettero' (which she correctly ends brusquely) and 'Ah, ma che diss'io, perdonami' - the only Elvira on any recording who succeeds in convincing us of her sudden realization that she was mistaken in threatening Silva, and that she regrets it, though too late. Molinari-Pradelli conducts a heavily cut score, excising not only second verses, but also the coda of Elvira's cabaletta (as on the Met/Levine DVD, so that the soprano can take the orchestra with her till the end), as well as (and that IS unforgivable, unless it's missing from the original tapes) the Act 2 love duet before the re-entrance of Silva (who, of course, is deprived of BOTH verses of his Act 1 cabaletta); the conductor's tempi are erratic: taking his time throughout (even when he isn't supposed to), he disastrously rushes his singers in the finale, to anticlimactic (ie antiromantic) effect (more than on any other recording, the trio sounds like some carefree ballroom waltz). Even Cappuccilli fans like myself will be let down by the overall result, though I'd feel guilty about denying him a couple of stars, which he deserves. Zampieri's GIOVANNA D'ARCO bonus tracks - irritatingly with a better sonic quality than that of the main recording - are small compensation."