Prime time Carreras and Caballe
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 05/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am blessed to have the CD of this 1978 live performance, as well as a fuzzy but glorious video tape of it. It is a recording that will be appreciated by those who truly love opera, more than the casual listener; the sound may be better on some other recordings, but this one has a cast that makes it a rare treasure. Montserrat Caballe is at her peak here, with pianissimos that sound as if they came straight from heaven, and Jose Carreras is positively thrilling as Don Alvaro. He was 31 years old at the time, 9 years before the onset of his physical problems, and sounding every bit as if cut out of the same cloth as the greats like Pertile and Di Steffano. Full of youthful energy and unbridled passion, he also has breath control that staggers the mind, and a tone that is pure gold.The La Scala orchestra and chorus is led with excellent pacing by Giuseppe Patane, and among the other superb singers that round out the cast are: The fabulous Russian bass Nicolai Ghiaurov, with his velvety rich voice, as Padre Guardiano; Piero Cappuccilli wonderful as Don Carlo di Vargas, and Maria Luisa Nave, an effective and charismatic Preziosilla.
This is an astounding, historic recording of one of Verdi's most dramatic and beautiful operas, performed by some of the finest singers at their best, and if you can find the video, though it is of inferior quality, I recommend it; if you love opera, you will be enthralled !"
Star cast and an excited Scala audience
Armindo | Greece | 11/12/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This Forza production starred some the biggest names of the 70s and ultimately of the entire 20th century. To have Caballe, Carreras, Cappuccilli and Ghiaurov on stage together is a dream. I'm also fortunate enough to have the performance on dvd and it is a gem for sure. On the other hand I didn't find everyone was up to the Forza challenge.
The great Caballe who had by 1978 tackled roles from Norma and Salome to Medea and Turandot sounds defeated by Leonora di Vargas. Her lyric voice is uneven with register breaks, cracks and gulps and the top spreads unattractively. She chests a lot of notes but they sound the result of exhaustion rather than drama. Even her famous pianissimo betrays her, most noticeably in Pace Pace. The audience still loves her though.
Carreras gives it all as Alvaro and you can hear how much his voice is being forced. The phrasing is as handsome as ever but I keep cringing when he pushes his essentially lyric tenor. And when you see him shaking on stage, it makes you wonder who advised him to sing these dramatic tenor roles. If you don't mind this, you'll enjoy his performance as it has both the beauty and the drama the role requires.
Cappuccilli, Ghiaurov and Bruscantini as Melitone are in their element and I thoroughly enjoyed their performances. They are amongst the greatest interpreters of these roles. I particularly admire Cappuccilli's and Bruscantini's Verdian accents and Ghiaurov's legato. Nave sings the thankless role of Preziosilla with spark and dignity. Patane does a good job holding the Scala forces together.
On the whole I enjoyed the performance but it is by no means the definite Forza. The '53 Florence and '55 Scala and '58 Naples Forzas remain the golden standards. In any case, don't waste so much money on this Myto release. The same performance has been released by other labels and costs more than half the price.