No doubt about it this compilation of Puccini's Il trittico, three one-act operas, is the one to have for several reasons: Tito Gobbi, the baritone, is nothing short of magnificent in the radically different characters of Michele in Il tabarro and as Gianni Schicchi in the opera of the same name. In Il tabarro he plays the desperate and loving husband to a despondent, unhappy, and unfaithful wife, richly sung by Margaret Mas. He weaves effortlessly and dramatically from the warmly sensitive and sensual lover to beyond the depths of despair and jealously. He leaves technique far behind and I feel every shift of his emotions. And he is extremely musical--beautiful arching line. Both Mas and Giacento Prandelli are unexpectedly very good and so is the small role of La Frugola, Miriam Pirazzini. I think the conducting of Bellezza is excellent.
I have also Il tabarro with Price, Domingo, Milnes and Leinsdorf conducting. Price touches a cord in me like no other artist, Domingo is great but Milnes sings beautifully with, by comparison with Gobbi, no character. Leinsdorf conducting sounds wagnarian to me and with all the minor characters he creates a really ugly sound and atmosphere. This CD comes with Pagliacci--and I don't like to hear this music adjacent to Puccini's glorious sound and structure.
Victoria de los Angeles, a very great Butterfly, sings Suor Angelica. The role is perfectly suited to her romantic and young sound. Her voice has a particular sound, as does Price, Sutherland, and Callas, and it might not be to all tastes. But she is an artist both musically and in character. She makes me sit up and take notice of her feelings and she creates a great deal of anticipation around her climatic notes--and, of course, she delivers! Fedora Barbieri is excellent as La zia principessa. Perhaps the conducting of Serafin is less atmospheric as I would like but it is nonetheless very, very well structured. He tells us a powerful story.
My all-time favorite Angelica is with the most angelic performance of any role I have ever heard by Richarelli and the most wicked, sick, frigid, and black singing by Cossotto. WOW! It is out of print! ^%$#^*!!!
The capstone is the hilarious comic opera, Gianni Schicchi. Gobbi has a field day. De los Angeles shines, the cast are beautifully hammy, and the conducting is brilliant by Santini.
Puccini is an amazing genius and these three operas mark that. He is black in one, glorious sentimental in another, and rip-roaring impish in the last; yet in all of them they are filled with passionate and beautiful music. Amazing.
Last note: Even though three different conductors conduct these, they go extremely well together.