Ligabue is a wonderful
Philip A. Kraus | Chicago, IL United States | 11/17/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Zandonai's Francesca da Rimini has been recorded several times.
The best recording is probably a 1984 TV/Radio broadcast from the Met with Levine conducting. It boasts a fabulous Paolo in Placido Domingo and a riveting Gianciotto from Cornel MacNeil.
Renata Scotto is the Francesca and although she is completely in the role and thrilling at times, the top of her voice is hardly beautiful and at times quite shrill. The recording is available on DVD, but has never been issued on CD.
That brings us to the underrated and under recorded Ilva Ligabue in this French radio production. She simply is the best Francesca to have recorded the role. She is also completely in the role and has the pipes to handle it. She's a true spinto in the Tebaldi tradition. Scotto was more of a lyric soprano who pushed her way through some of the more dramatic roles. Bondino and Protti don't measure up to their Met rivals, but they are more than adequate. Santi's conducting is reliable and the orchestra and other soloists are quite good. Francesca require a committed ensemble and the cast here does not disappoint. Recorded sound is quite good also.
At Gala's bargain price this is a must for opera lovers."
Superb and almost forgotten composer
Leo J. Wolansky | 04/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Zandonai is one of the most underrated of opera composers. His Conchita Conchita, Giulietta e Romeo, I Cavalieri di Ekebu I Cavalieri Di Ekebu / Barbieri Sings Arias, and the incomplete Il Bacio all have many lovely passages, but his Francesca da Rimini was his claim to fame and quite deservedly so. From start to finish, the opera is overflowing with beautiful music. Temporarily revived by the Met's production with Placido Domingo and Renata Scotto, it would be very refreshing to see this opera reappear in our opera houses. This live recording from 1976 is a real find. The sound quality is good. Ilva Ligabue (Francesca) has a wonderful instrument and is a fine interpreter of the style. Nello Santi is in his element conducting, keeping the orchestra well balanced with the voices and in tune. The only shortcoming is that there is no libretto, only a small booklet of notes.
After the conclusion of the opera the recording includes bonus tracks from Verdi's "I Masnadieri", which are out of place stylistically but certainly welcome. The sound quality is fair to poor (with plenty of audience coughing and some unpleasant grunts) but the cast of Ilva Ligabue, Boris Christoff, Renato Bruson, and an uncredited tenor (Arminio) under direction of Gianandrea Gavazzeni is very good."
AN EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES
Alfredo R. Villanueva | New York, NY United States | 03/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I OWN ALL OF ZANDONAI'S OPERAS THAT NOW EXIST ON AMAZON, AND HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AMAZED THEY ARE SO LITTLE KNOWN, FOR HE IS ONE OF THE MOST INVENTIVE, IF NOT THE BEST, OF THE COMPOSERS KNOWN AS VERISTAS. JUST LISTEN TO THE ORCHESTRATION IN FRANCESCA DI RIMINI AND THE UTILIZATION OF ENSEMBLE SINGING--THE MELODIC FABRIC IS SEAMLESS! AND THERE IS AN EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES IN TERMS OF RECORDINGS: BEFORE THE SCOTTO/DOMINGO PAIRING THERE WERE MARIA CANIGLIA/GIACINTO PRANDELLI; MADGA OLIVERO/MARIO DEL MONACO, AND THIS ONE, ALL OF WHICH I OWN BECAUSE I CANNOT MAKE UP MY MIND AS TO WHICH ONE IS THE BEST. IN FACT, THIS IS THE ONE OPERA FOR WHICH I CAN TRULY SAY THERE IS NO "DEFINITIVE" VERSION.
I LOVE THEM ALL!!!!"