The Quiet Reviewer | San Diego, CA | 08/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've always enjoyed "Il Trovatore"--what fan of Italian opera doesn't? But I never really understood why it was a great opera until I heard this recording. The Callas/Karajan combination reveals that there is a great music drama behind Verdi's popular tunes.
The role of Leonora could have been written for Callas: it demands the flexibility of a bel canto singer, but also requires something of the intensity of verismo. Callas had both, and her characterization is not the traditional victim that so many singers assume as the default for a Verdi soprano. For me, Leonora is the weakest link of the major characters in "Trovatore"--she never really acts, she only reacts to the other three protagonists. Callas' Leonora certainly isn't a victim. Even if you're not a Callas fan (and yes, she does have some of the vocal tics here that can make her later records a chore to listen to), this is worth listening to; it may be one of her best recordings. The other cast members are equally strong: di Stefano is one of the more elegant Manricos, and if Barbieri is not the strongest Azucena, she manages to avoid the melodrama that others wallow in.
But the real revelation in this set is Karajan's conducting. Let me state up front: I don't think highly of Karajan's vaunted musicianship. Most of his recordings (especially in the stereo era and towards the end of his career) are bombastic and melodramatic, and tell us more about Karjan than the music being performed. He hadn't turned into "Das Wunder Karajan" in the mid-50s, and this recording is evidence of the even greater musician he could have been. His pacing of Verdi's music is both sure and surely paced--"Di quella pira" is swift, but not rushed (as is sometimes the case). He conveys the feeling that the various set-pieces actually relate to each other, rather than treating the opera as a collection of Verdi's greatest hits. Of course, we've always known Verdi was a genius; but here's a recording that allows to revel in that fact.
The sound is a clean and clear mid-50s mono, and is recorded well enough that you'll forget it isn't stereo after a while. This edition does not have a libretto, but given this is a bargain price, why quibble? This is one of the best recordings of "Il Trovatore" available: if you haven't heard it, it will make you fall in love the opera as if it were the first time you had heard it."
Smbat Mikaelian | 07/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love this production of IL TROVATORE.One of the exiting recording of Callas.The sound quality is very good.Exelent remastering...Bravo EMI.Highly recomended and unfogettable production..."