Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Giuseppe Verdi, Gino Marinuzzi, Carlo Tagliabue|
Verdi: La Forza del Destino
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Tremendous historic performance from 1941
L. E. Cantrell | Vancouver, British Columbia Canada | 11/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a studio recording from wartime Italy. If it had been recorded in the analog stereo of 1961 rather than the compressed mono of 1941, I would have no hesitation about recommending it as the recording of choice for "La forza del destino."
This is apparently the sole complete opera recorded under the hand of Gino Marinuzzi, who died in August 1945. Although he did not record much, he had been a big name in the Italian operatic world. Here he demonstrates sensitivity to his singers and a nice feeling for dramatic pacing.
Maria Caniglia was a prima donna assoluta of the old school--rough in technique compared to the current standard of bland soprano precision, but filled with passion and fire nowhere to be heard today. Galliano Masini, now almost forgotten, was an enormously popular tenor in the years before the Second World War. Hear him on this recording and you will understand why. The youthful Carlo Tagliabue, Ebe Stignani and the venerable Tancredi Pasero are virtually a dream cast.
Since the sound quality is what it is, and the recording reflects the cuts standard in its time, I can only say that anyone who cares for Verdi, for great singing, and for a truly idiomatic and incisive performance should rush to buy this very inexpensive set as a second recording of "La forza."
UPDATE, March 2007
SOURCE: This is the first more-or-less complete professional recording of "La forza del destino." It is a studio recording made for broadcast by the Italian Broadcasting Authority (EIAR), the predecessor of RAI. It was probably recorded in late May 1941, most likely at Teatro di Torino in Turin. The opera was recorded in roughly four-minute takes for subsequent issuance on thirty-five 78-rpm sides (18 disks) by CETRA. The Naxos re-issue is based on very skillfully cleaned up phonograph records.
SOUND: The soundscape here is an artifact of its time. The bad news is that it is dry, boxy and short of orchestral detail. I am sure that narrowly-focused audiophiles, the ones who care about such things, will be able to detect the joins of the short takes without much difficulty. As for myself, I haven't yet looked for them and do not intend to so in the future. There is undoubtedly some distortion from time to time. The good news is that none of that matters in the light of the first-rate performance. On the whole the sound is considerably more than just bearable. Live with it and wallow in the music.
CAST: Donna Leonora, a young lady trapped in a run of really bad luck - Maria Caniglia (soprano); Don Alvaro, a young man whose love for Leonora leads to truly operatic consequences - Galliano Masini (tenor); Don Carlo di Vargas, Leonora's brother, a young man of unforgiving nature - Carlo Tagliabue (baritone); Preziosilla, a Gypsy girl who likes to keeps things stirred up - Ebe Stignani (mezzo-soprano); Padre Guardiano, the Father Guardian of the monastery adjacent to the Church of Our Lady of the Angels - Tancredi Pasero (bass); Fra Melitone, a lazy monk - Saturno Meletti (bass-baritone); Il marchese di Calatrava, father of Carlo and Leonora / a Mayor / a surgeon - Ernesto Domenici (bass); Curra, Leonora's lady in waiting - Liana Avogadro (mezzo-soprano); Maestro Trabbuco - Giuseppe Nessi (tenor). CONDUCTOR: Gino Marinuzzi with the Symphony Orchestra of the Italian Broadcasting Authority and the Turin Chorus (apparently supplemented with members of the Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala, Milan.)
TEXT: "La forza del destino" premiered in St Petersburg on November 10, 1862. It met with initial success but Verdi was not satisfied. After substantial revision, it re-opened at La Scala on February 27, 1869. The most important changes were the addition of the now-familiar overture and the redesign of the final scene. Originally, Alvaro, Carlo and Leonora all died at the end of the fourth act--too much of a downer in Verdi's opinion. Now, the dying Carlo stabs his sister so that she can die gracefully in the arms of the devastated Alvaro--as you can see, much jollier all around. This recorded performance contains the standard cuts of its time and also eliminates the scene for tenor and baritone in the third act that includes the duet "Sleale! Il segreto fu dunque violato?" Considering the political situation of 1941, the producers discreetly changed one line in a rousing second act chorus from "Morte ai Tedeschi!" (Death to Germans!) to "Morte ai nemici!" (Death to enemies!).
DOCUMENTATION: No libretto. Short history of the opera and a brief summary of the plot tied into the track list. Biographical thumbnail sketches of the leading singers and the conductor.
On further consideration, I now regard Caniglia, Masini, Tagliabue and Pasero as absolutely the 1941 Italian dream cast for "La forza.""