Probably the best studio recording
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 12/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...although the earlier of Leontyne Price's two recordings runs it close.This is one of the three or four most satisfying recordings of this great, sprawling opera - and two of the others also feature Tebaldi. To hear her at her very best, you need to go to the legendary 1953 live set, thrillingly conducted by Mitropoulos - Del Monaco also is stunning here - but the sound is pretty rough and Aldo Protti merely adequate compared with the burnished, nut-brown tones of Bastianini. This 1955 Decca studio recording, in excellent stereo sound, is very good - I cannot believe how snooty some critics (especially my compatriot British ones who rave about weedy, effete voices like those of Pears, Bostridge and their like) are about Del Monaco in this, probably his best role after Otello; to me he is tremendous, but it has to be said that for sheer glamour, Corelli tops him in the 1958 Hardy recording with the same conductor (also available on black & white DVD) which is in good, live sound but obviously not as pleasant a listening experience as this. The cast assembled is without peer even if Molinari-Pradelli's conducting is nothing special and Tebaldi is certainly in fresher voice than in 1958. We are spoilt for choice with recordings of this opera, as, in addition to the earlier Price set, there is also the Callas version with a good, if not quite so spectacular, cast let down by Rossi-Lemeni's woolly Padre Guardiano and a baritone past his best. After over 50 years, this remains the best bet, in many ways."
One of the best versions around, despite its shortcomings
G.D. | Norway | 07/13/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This set (dating from 1955) has managed to achieve something close to classic status and is probably one of the best recordings around of a work which contains many fine numbers and parts, but the overall cogency of which is a little questionable. Among its virtues is of course the brilliant performance by Tebaldi, probably the best Leonora around. On the other hand, Simionato's Preziosilla is not her best performance, being somewhat unsteady and ungainly (though it isn't bad). Something of the same polarity can be found among the male characters - Bastianini is excellent as Carlo, whereas del Monaco's Alvaro is brash and unsubtle, mostly loud. The orchestral playing is lively, however, and Molinari-Pradelli has an admirable grasp of the score, and the sound quality is very fine for its age as well, spacious and clear. Among the main competitors are the fine, but slightly cut Serafin set and the Schippers (which I haven't heard), and for a fine modern recording, I'd go for the very good Sinopoli one - which in the end must be said to be the first choice among the ones I am familiar with."
The best in the field by a mile
KC | London, England | 08/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this set in a sale. The power of the singing is truly awesome.
Don't bother looking elsewhere until you have heard this gem of a recording. Mario Del Monaco is a powerhouse of a tenor and Tebaldi gives total satisfaction.
The early stereo is very good too!"