(4 out of 5 stars)
"This old Trovatore recording has aspects that would normally make one avoid it. However, I find myself listening to it more and more and actually enjoying it more than other, more popular recordings of this opera.Mario Del Monaco is, as expected, a heroic Manrico. He rarely sings piano and knows little about elegant phrasing but the sheer vigour and ring of his voice strikes in magnificiently! Only F. Corelli equals Mario in force and exciting high notes. Musically, Corelli is certainly more creative but I've always found Del Monaco's voice more handsome. Tastes differ, though. Del Monaco is particularly thrilling in "mal reggendo, all'aspro assalto", "ah! Si, ben mio" and "Di quella pira" even if he could hold the last note longer in the cabaletta. The casting of Renata Tebaldi as Leonora is for most opera fans controversial. She is a spinto with little agilty; it's interesting to see what such a voice can offer. Indeed, she barely manages the florid parts and the highest notes sound effortfull. In this part she's nowhere near Caballe, Milanov, Callas or even Price. However, there are other moments that no other soprano in my experience has ever sung so idiomatically. In "mira, di acerbe lagrime" for example, the way she sings those long phrases using her glorious spinto instrument is unique. She firmly grasps each note and the result is intoxicating! Same with Miserere and the proceeding Manrico - Leonora encounter. Dramatically her outbreaks are few. However, Tebaldi was THE FIRST who made me realise that Leonora is a woman in love! If one can argue about the performances of Tebaldi and Del Monaco, little can be said about Simionato's Acuzena. Along with Barbieri and Cossotto she's one of the best interpreters of this wonderful role, probably Verdi's greatest mezzo part. The weakest link of the cast is Ugo Savarese's routine Conte di Luna. If only Bastianini had joined this recording instead. Tozzi does an OK job as Ferrando. Erede conducts well but nothing really memorable. Decca's early stereo sound certainly impresses; pity that EMI and RCA didn't adopt stereo so early as well. On the whole, this set won't beat famous Trovatores like Karajan's live performance but it will always attract my attention!"
A Worthy Trovatore
Virginia Opera Fan | Falls Church, VA USA | 05/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I decided to buy a used copy of this half century old Trovatore on the strength of the earlier review posting. I'm certainly glad I did.
First, there is the pleasure of hearing Tebaldi in a role that wasn't central to her repertory. Having heard her Violetta on an early '50s Decca recording of Traviata I was not expecting much in the way of florid singing. I was pleasantly surprised. True, some of the runs are sketchy and the tone isn't always ideally equalized when she goes for the high notes, but Tebaldi isn't far behind the fabled Milanov, a favorite in this role. Tebaldi's italianate timbre is a decided plus. A few days ago I played the first act aria and cabaletta for some friends without any identification. After some puzzled looks, someone commented that whoever it was, she was great and though she sounded like Tebaldi, the florid singing was too good for it to be her. Needless to say, they were all pleasantly surprised.
I think Simionato is simply the finest Azucena on disc - whether here or in the legendary Salzburg broadcast of a few years later.
Del Monaco isn't an intellectual tenor by any stretch of the imagination, but this is elemental, viscerally exciting singing. I'll give up the subtle nuances for a vital, heroic Manrico like this.
Savarese is a competant Di Luna. He's certainly not offensive, but there's not much here to convince the listener he belongs in the company of the great exponents of the role. I have to admit that I think the role's showpiece, "Il balen" is a problem for any interpreter. I think organ grinder every time I hear it.
It's always a pleasure to hear the young Tozzi's richly overtoned voice as Ferrando.
Erede is no Karajan (or Mehta) but he gives us a well routined reading of the score. Finally, the sonics of this 1956 recording are very impressive early vintage stereo. Despite its occasional flaws, I quickly have become very attached to this venerable Trovatore."