IT'S GOOD, BUT IT'S GOT SOME STIFF COMPETITION
L. Mitnick | Chicago, Illinois United States | 02/07/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This "Trovatore" was recorded in 1956, and has enjoyed pretty much of a "clasic" status for a long time. Some of it is very, very good indeed. Herbert von Karajan performed this opera a lot (most famously, in Salzburg in 1962, with the super-star cast comprising Leontyne Price, Franco Corelli, Giulietta Simionato and Ettore Bastianini --- and yes, there's an avilable recording, and it's spectacular!), and his particular way with Verdi's fiery score is certainly impressive. On this particular recording, he has four great singers certainly, but somehow this recording has never been, for me anyway, all THAT unforgettable. The assets: Maria Callas brings out all the darkness and mystery of Leonora. She is by far the most compelling and vivid exponent of this role. That said, it must also be noted that this role was no longer completely comfortable for her vocally at this point in her career. She had sung the role in Chicago eight months earlier ------- to (according to those who heard it)perfection. Here, however, it cannot be denied that she makes some very unpleasant sounds in the uppermost notes. Her singing in the more florid sections has plenty of bite and fire, however, and overall her performance is certainly one to admire. Fedora Barbieri, to my ears, THE dramatic mezzo of her generation, is considerably less vocally effective here than she was in the same role on the classic 1952 RCA Victor recording with Milanov, Bjoerling and Warren. On THAT recording, she sets her scenes on fire. Here, she considerably more vocally and dramatically subdued. Giuseppe di Stefano's voice is not really large or dramatic enough for Manrico. True, his voice is no larger than was Jussi Bjoerling's, but the way he uses his voice is very, very different. Rolando Panerai is a good di Luna --- suave, lush-voiced ---almost too beautiful sounding for such a mean-spirited character. I have listened to this recording many times, and recently purchased this new edition. Of course it's good, and there are moments when one thinks that this is the ultimate "Trovatore". It's really not. There are some other wonderful recordings available as well: Milanov/Bjoerling on RCA; Price/Corelli live in Salzburg; Price/Domingo on RCA; also, I believe there is a live Caballe' version available. Whatever the case, "Trovatore" is such a "singer's opera", that one is bound to have particular preferences. Lastly, EMI's newly re-mastered sound is excellent."
One of the great opera recordings
jonsj | New York, NY United States | 08/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am very impressed by EMI's new remastering of the famous Karajan/Callas recording of Il Trovatore, one of the greatest opera recordings ever made, in my view.
Karajan elicits a remarkable degree of precision and refinement from the Scala orchestra, without ever losing that fiery and intense charge characteristic of the old-style Italian operatic tradition.
Callas's magnificent portrayal of Leonora has those same qualities -- it is an inimitably expressive and committed performance sung with extraordinary control, coloring, and musical accuracy.
The rest of the cast is not quite at their level. Di Stefano sounds hard-pressed, and indeed this role was a few sizes too large for him; but it's still a beautiful sound and his natural, unaffected phrasing and crystal-clear diction provide deep pleasure. Rolando Panerai's somewhat edgy and tense voice has never been my favorite, but he does a fina job as Luna. Fedora Barbieri is in typically vivid form as Azucena, though her earlier recording of this role (with Bjorling, Milanov, and Cellini on RCA) may be preferred.
A great recording and a must buy."
Jose L. Lobato | Mexico City | 07/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Being myself a fan of Von Karajan, I went straight to this version of Il Trovatore. His conducting as always is flawless, powerful and marvelous.
There are not enough words to tell you how great the singers are. Just seeing their names will make you order this:
Maria Callas as Leonora. Fedora Barbieri as Azucena. Giuseppe di Stefano as Manrico and Rolando Panerai as Il Conte di Luna. All of them sing their roles with such passion. Few singers will match them. The set includes the libretto in Italian, English, French and German and several pictures of the singers and Herr Von Karajan. It's worth every penny.
The sound is monoaural but the performance is the thing that counts in this."