Zajick and Chernov shine
daniel0302 | New York, NY United States | 09/08/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Dolora Zajick and Vladimir Chernov are the real stars of this set, and if you are a fan of either, by all means buy this. One would be hard pressed to find performances of these roles truly bettered by any other recording. Chernov's singing is simply fantastic. "Il balen del tuo sorriso" is extraordinary, and the passionate Act 4 duet with Aprile Millo is thrilling. It is with Zajick's Azucena that this "Il Trovatore" finds its truly incendiary moments. She is at turns a comforting mother and a spitting viper, all the while sounding fabulous. Millo has obviously done her homework. As with her Aida, she seems steeped in the performance practice of the role of Leonora - not an heir to 70s and 80s Verdi sopranos, but rather in the style of Verdi sopranos of the 50s, such as Renata Tebaldi, Antoinetta Stella, and Maria Curtis-Verna. Act 1 starts out with a cautious and somewhat bland "Tacea la notte", and she seems tentative for a while, but as the recording continues the interpretation grows and the voice sounds more secure. Her Act 4 arias "D'amor sull'ali rosee", and "Di te! Scordarmi di te!" are quite fine. There is a lack of articulation in the coloratura passages of the latter, but it is still thrilling.Placido Domingo's Manrico often sounds pinched and tired. If you are a Domingo fan and he is your priority in purchasing a "Trovatore", buy the Zubin Mehta version on RCA instead. "Ah! Si ben mio" is sung beautifully but, with its break neck spead and high stakes, "Di quella pira" is not successful. The desperate excitement of this aria is captured by James Levine better than many conductors, but Domingo is left in the dust; the final high C is covered by the orchestra, and muffled by the engineering, as if they needed to protect him from an unexposed high note. Domingo is at his best on this recording in the impassioned finale scene. Anthony Laciura is highly effective in his few lines as Ruiz. James Morris brings a wooly tone to Fernando, and is bettered by basses on some of the other recordings. Levine's leadership is always competent and musical. There are moments of real excitement - he seems especially inspired in the company of Zajick - yet there are also places that seem just a tad dull. No matter how highbrow one tries to be, it is impossible to deny "Il Trovatore" is one of the silliest operas ever witten, yet Levine approaches it with great seriousness. A bit of melodramtic fun is needed. Still, this is a perfectly good recording that holds its own with much of the competition. There are other recorded Leonoras and Manricos worthy of the Verdi enthusiast's acquaintance, but this set is well worth the money on the strengths of Zajick and Chernov alone."
A decent reading of a much-recorded opera.
John P. | Kennett Square, PA USA | 12/02/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The highlights of this recording are the Azucena of Dolora Zajick (who currently owns this role) and, to a lesser extent, the Conte di Luna of Vladimir Chernov. Zajick's voice suits Azucena perfectly, and her interpretation is credible and affecting. Chernov, while sounding a bit leathery and labored (especially in the trills), nonetheless gives an appropriately impassioned performance. The other leads are acceptable. Domingo and Millo both sound too old for their parts (as does Chernov, but he makes up for it with style) and vocally stiff. There are no big faults in their performances, but not much excitement either. Of course, part of the problem is that they are competing with some truly great recordings, including an earlier one by Domingo himself.It should also be noted that the second half of "Di quella pira" (one of Verdi's best-known tenor arias) is omitted, and that the libretto provides a translation that misses all of the poetry and much of the sense of the original.All in all, buy this for Zajick and maybe Chernov. As for the other roles, you could do worse, and you could do much better."
THE DEFINITIVE MISERERE AT LAST!
Douglas E. Braga | SÃO PAULO, SÃO PAULO Brazil | 01/11/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"THERE ARE SOME GREAT THINGS IN THIS TROVATORE THAT I LOVE - LEVINE'S CONDUCTING IS OUTSTANDING. DOLORA ZAJICK IS SUPERB AS AZUCENA! APRILE MILLO REMINDS US OF RENATA TEBALDI - HER VOICE HERE IS SPETACULAR AND SUBLIME, SPECIAL MENTION TO HER MISERERE. BY THE WAY, I WAS SO SATISFIED WITH THE MEASURE GIVEN IN THIS PIECE BY LEVINE, HE HAS GOT A MIRACLE OF TRANSMITING A MEDIEVAL SOUND SUNG BY THE CHOIR - FANTASTIC! THIS IS THE MISERERE I HAVE ALWAYS DREAMT TO LISTEN!"