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I Puritani (Serafin, Callas, Stefano, Rossi-Lemeni) [Original recording remastered]

Vincenzo Bellini , Tullio Serafin , Milan La Scala Orchestra Audio CD
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Milan La Scala Orchestra
  • Conductor: Tullio Serafin
  • Composer: Vincenzo Bellini
  • Audio CD (3 Nov 2003)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B0000E3HLZ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 240,140 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Disc 1:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster): SinfoniaOrchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 3:360.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act I, Scena prima: All'erte! All'erta! (Bruno/Coro)Angelo Mercuriali/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 4:290.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act I, Scena prima: O di Cromvel guerrieri (Bruno/Elvira/Arturo/Riccardo/Giorgio/Coro)Angelo Mercuriali/Maria Callas/Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Giuseppe Di Stefano/Tullio Serafin/Rolando Panerai/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani 3:290.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act I, Scena prima: A festa! (Coro)Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 2:250.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act I, Scena prima: Or dove fuggo io mai? (Riccardo/Bruno)Rolando Panerai/Angelo Mercuriali/Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 2:540.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. I Puritani (1997 Digital Remaster), Atto Primo, Scena Prima: Ah! Per Sempre Io Ti Perdei (Riccardo)Rolando Panerai/Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 3:080.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act I, Scena prima: Bel sogno beato (Bruno/Riccardo)Angelo Mercuriali/Rolando Panerai/Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 1:570.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act I, Scena secondo: O amato zio, o mio secondo padre! (Elvira/Giorgio)Maria Callas/Giuseppe Di Stefano/Rolando Panerai/Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Angelo Mercuriali/Carlo Forti/Aurora Cattelani/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala 2:200.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act I, Scena secondo: Sai com'arde in petto mio ... (Elvira/Giorgio)Maria Callas/Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 6:570.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act I, Scena secondo: Odi ... Qual suon si desta? (Elvira/Giorgio/Coro)Maria Callas/Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 2:460.99  Buy MP3 
Listen11. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act I, Scena terza: Ad Arturo onore (Coro)Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 2:290.99  Buy MP3 
Listen12. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act I, Scena terza: A te, o cara, amor talora (Arturo/Elvira/Giorgio/Gualtiero/Coro)Giuseppe Di Stefano/Maria Callas/Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Carlo Forti/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 6:290.99  Buy MP3 
Listen13. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act I, Scena terza: Il rito augusto si compia senza mei! (Gualtiero/Enrichetta/Arturo/Giorgio)Carlo Forti/Aurora Cattelani/Giuseppe di Stefano/Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 1:570.99  Buy MP3 
Listen14. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act I, Scena terza: Com'io, vi unisca (Gualtiero/Enrichetta/Arturo)Carlo Forti/Aurora Cattelani/Giuseppe di Stefano/Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 4:220.99  Buy MP3 
Listen15. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act I, Scena terza: Son vergin vezzosa (Elvira/Enrichetta/Arturo/Giorgio/Valton/Coro)Maria Callas/Aurora Cattelani/Giuseppe Di Stefano/Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Carlo Forti/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 3:350.99  Buy MP3 
Listen16. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act I, Scena terza: Sulla verginea testa (Enrichetta/Arturo)Aurora Cattelani/Giuseppe di Stefano/Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin0:420.99  Buy MP3 
Listen17. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act I, Scena terza: Ferma. Invan rapir pretendi ... (Riccardo/Arturo/Enrichetta/Elvira/Bruno/Giorgio/Coro)Rolando Panerai/Giuseppe Di Stefano/Aurora Cattelani/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 4:310.99  Buy MP3 
Listen18. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act I, Scena terza: E gi al ponte - passa il forte (Riccardo/Elvira/Giorgio/Gualtiero/Coro/Bruno)Rolando Panerai/Maria Callas/Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Carlo Forti/Angelo Mercuriali/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 3:450.99  Buy MP3 
Listen19. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act I, Scena terza: Ah, vieni al tempio ... fedele Arturo (Elvira/Bruno/Coro/Riccardo/Giorgio)Maria Callas/Angelo Mercuriali/Rolando Panerai/Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 4:580.99  Buy MP3 
Listen20. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act I, Scena terza: Ma tu gi mi fuggi? (Elvira/Bruno/Riccardo/Giorgio/Coro)Maria Callas/Angelo Mercuriali/Rolando Panerai/Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 2:010.99  Buy MP3 


Disc 2:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act II: Ah! dolor! ah terror ... (Coro)Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 5:330.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act II: Qual novella? (Coro/Giorgio)Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 3:010.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act II: Cinta di fiori e col ben crin disciolto (Giorgio/Coro)Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 4:150.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act II: E di morte lo stral non sar lento (Riccardo/Coro/Giorgio)Rolando Panerai/Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 3:010.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act II: O rendetemi la speme ... Qui la voce sua soave mi chiamava (Elvira/Girgio/Riccardo)Maria Callas/Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Rolando Panerai/Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin10:04Album Only
Listen  6. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act II: Vien diletto, in ciel la luna (Elvira)Maria Callas/Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 2:490.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act II: Il rival salvar tu diNicola Rossi-Lemeni/Rolando Panerai/Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 4:450.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act II: Se tra il buio un fantasma vedraiNicola Rossi-Lemeni/Rolando Panerai/Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 2:270.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act II: Riccardo! Riccardo!Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Rolando Panerai/Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 2:080.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act II: Suoni la tromba e intrepido (Giorgio/Riccardo)Rolando Panerai/Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 3:200.99  Buy MP3 
Listen11. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act III: Son salvo. Alfin son tua (Arturo)Giuseppe di Stefano/Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 4:350.99  Buy MP3 
Listen12. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act III: A una fonte afflitto e solo (Elvira/Arturo)Maria Callas/Giuseppe di Stefano/Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 2:320.99  Buy MP3 
Listen13. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act III: Qual suon! Alcun s'appressa! (Arturo/Coro)Giuseppe Di Stefano/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 2:060.99  Buy MP3 
Listen14. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act III: Son gi lontani (Arturo)Giuseppe di Stefano/Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 3:160.99  Buy MP3 
Listen15. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act III: Fin! Me lassa!Maria Callas/Giuseppe di Stefano/Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 3:050.99  Buy MP3 
Listen16. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act III: Ch'ei prov lontan da me?Maria Callas/Giuseppe di Stefano/Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 3:080.99  Buy MP3 
Listen17. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act III: Vieni, fra queste braccia (Elvira/Arturo)Maria Callas/Giuseppe di Stefano/Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 2:430.99  Buy MP3 
Listen18. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act III: Alto l! Fedel drappello! (Coro/Arturo/Elvira/Riccardo/Giorgio)Giuseppe Di Stefano/Maria Callas/Rolando Panerai/Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 1:110.99  Buy MP3 
Listen19. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act III: Cavalier, ti colse il Dio (Riccardo/Giorgio/Coro/Elvira)Rolando Panerai/Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Maria Callas/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 2:080.99  Buy MP3 
Listen20. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act III: Credeasi, misera (Arturo/Elvira/Giorgio/Riccardo/Coro)Giuseppe Di Stefano/Maria Callas/Rolando Panerai/Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 5:300.99  Buy MP3 
Listen21. I Puritani (1997 - Remaster), Act III: Suon d'araldi? (Riccardo/Giorgio/Coro/Elvira/Arturo)Rolando Panerai/Nicola Rossi-Lemeni/Maria Callas/Giuseppe Di Stefano/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Vittore Veneziani/Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, Milano/Tullio Serafin 1:170.99  Buy MP3 


Product Description

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally enjoyable despite its age. 23 Aug 2009
Format:Audio CD
I don't claim to be an expert opera buff but I know what I like and I enjoy listening to this CD very much. Callas sings so beautifully that at times it brings tears to my eyes. Ok it's an old mono recording but we can't change that can we, I'm sure that we all would love to have the likes of Callas, Ponselle and Caruso with us today with all the modern recording techniques but alas they only live on in these recordings so be thankful at least for that, try to ignore the bacon frying in the backround and appreciate it for what it is .. Magnificent Music!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Pristine Audio version 7 Nov 2013
Format:Audio CD
Before purchasing this product I would strongly recommend customers to read Ralph Moore's review above. The "Pristine Audio" version of this opera is so much better than other versions. It's nothing short of a revelation! How they've cleaned up such an old performance to make it sound so alive is remarkable. You will not find this product on Amazon (yet). It is more expensive than the EMI version. But it represents Callas at her ultimate best.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A classic - but buy the Pristine Audio issue, 12 Jan 2013
By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
By far the most important point of this review is to emphasise just how superior the latest Pristine re-mastering (unavailable on Amazon) is even to the excellent one by Mark Obert-Thorn for Naxos Historical and certainly to this EMI issue. It is like hearing this recording for the first time, so full and vivid is Andrew Rose's sound-engineering, instead of the crashing seaside-brass-band chords with which EMI's issue commences the "Sinfonietta", we hear a tutti from what is identifiably the fine orchestra of La Scala, Milan and then, especially, its euphonious horns. There is virtually no hiss, plenty of airy ambience around the voices and instruments and above all, a new depth now that the lower frequencies have been enhanced; the unpleasant metallic quality always previously present is gone. The result is that even the rather gritty, windy and unsteady bass of Rossi-Lemeni - for me always the weakest link in the cast - sounds better than I have ever heard it before. He remains too tremulous in "Cinta di fiori" but this may be construed as being the result of deep emotion; by and large he emerges as the singer who would be the most to be grateful to Pristine for its re-mastering were he able to hear it.

Panerai, too, divides opinion by virtue of the slight tremolo in his rapid vibrato and some occasional unsteadiness and inaudibility but he was only twenty-eight at the time of recording and some nervousness is understandable; otherwise, the musicality and intensity of his singing are admirable. Comparison with predecessors and successors such as Cappuccilli and Battistini reveals some deficiencies in his legato but the latter, for all his vocal supremacy, takes unpardonable liberties by modern standards and Cappuccilli, despite his long-breathed eloquence, is coarser of tone.
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3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars For serious Callas fans only 23 Feb 2004
By Keith G
Format:Audio CD
Despite careful remastering by EMI this is still an elderly mono recording with limited dynamic range and, besides Callas, only an average line up of soloists. Whilst there is drama in the performance I think most people, except those buying it specifically for Callas' famous performance, would prefer a modern stereo recording with more consistent singing (e.g. Sutherland and Pavarotti on Decca).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly beautiful music and superb interpretations! 3 July 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I Puritani is one of Bellini's three greatest operas (the other two being Norma and Sonnambula). Its melodies are extremely moving. Under the baton of the great Serafin they can easily make one cry, especially when you have artists like M. Callas and G. di Stefano singing the main roles. I'm not a fan of these singers but this is by far their most effective performance on disc!
The feeling Maria Callas injects into Elvira's words (Qui la voce...o rendete mi) is unbelievable! I usually prefer her in exciting cabalettas but here she is superb! M. Caballe is the only other soprano I can thing of, who could ever be so moving in Bellini's music (she recorded the opera with Kraus but unfortunately, a bit late in her career). In the faster, "firework", sections, Callas is exciting if not as brilliant as J. Sutherland. Di Stefano is heard here in his short-lived prime with a voice of exceptional warmth and beauty! The "a te, o cara" fully epitomises this legendary tenor. His uncovered high notes already annoy sometimes but after all, these belonged to his style of singing. Panerai also had a handsome voice and he definitely is a plus in this recording.
Should this be your only studio Puritani recording? No because it's incomplete, in monophonic sound and the second Sutherland recording, complete and with an all-star, bel-canto expert cast is available. On the other hand, Serafin's reading of the score, the young Callas and Di Stefano are a marvel to listen to and make this EMI set a must! Note that this release offers no libretto but the price is great!
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ravishing beauty 15 Jun 2004
By Emma de Soleil - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This remastering of Callas' first complete recording of an opera for EMI is a jewel beyond price. Instead of launching her career as Tosca or Violetta Callas chose a part she had made operatic history with. In 1949 she was singing Wagner's Brünnhilde (To high acclaim) and was considered a dramatic soprano when a soprano fell ill and Tullio Serafin, this greatest of all conductors, begged her to study the highly florid part of Elvira. Maria, trusting her mentor, accepted and while singing Brünnhilde rehearsed Elvira (!) and then sang both Brünnhilde and Elvira in the same week leaving critics spellbound, running out of superlatives and their expectations for upcoming performances running high. It's like letting Beverly Sills sing Brünnhilde and Birgit Nilsson sing Elvira. But Callas, this true prima donna assoluta, did it. When Callas recorded the part of Elvira in the studio her approach to the role was gentler, even more fragile and yet of the darkest, most intense colours. This Elvira's "Qui la voce suave" isn't just beautiful easy listening but a masterpiece of inflections, phrasing and details. The fascinating scales and the white-hot E-flat in the end will leave you spellbound for sure. Now what about the rest of the cast? I absolutely love di Stefano as Arturo. True, he was never a tenor to spill high Cs like Lauri Volpi, Kraus or Gedda but his sunny tone, flawless legato, intense phrasing and full voice definitely are big +++++++ on his behalf. Sure, Edgardo was written for Rubini but I absolutely love di Stefano's way of singing this taxing role, he's the most vivid, passionate Arturo on disc. Rossi-Lemeni is in topform as well, as he was every time he was partnering Callas (Another example would be the Anna Bolena they did together). Panerei sings a glorious Riccardo, maybe his greatest effort on disc. Serafin conducts with the experience of a true maestro di belcanto, absolutely magnificent. This is, by far, my favourite recording of "I Puritani". It's being in excellent sound and incredibly cast made it a legend and this remastering at such a price is a steal! Don't miss this wondrous performance!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Callas - but the rest? 11 Jan 2009
By Dr Carl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I agree with the reviewers who love Callas in this studio recording; I am not sure whether it is her best studio recording (I have a soft spot for Forza del Destino and the two Normas) but she is truly brilliant here. I must take issue, however, with the other eviewers assessment of her partners. On hearing di Stefano, I enjoyed his singing as long as he was not reaching for high notes when his tone assumed an uningratiating tone and a hard edge. I made the big mistake of listening to Pavarotti immediately afterwards whose brilliant melting tones and effortless legato made him the natural Bellini tenor. What a partner he would have provided for Callas?

I am really struck by the reviewer who comments positively on Rossi-Lemeni. I found his singing virtually unbearable, both in in great aria and in his duet with the other baritone (a more serviceable Panerai). Am I the only Callas fan who finds Rossi-Lemeni as the consistent fly in the ointment, single-handedly ruining great recordings like this, but also Rossini's Il Turco in Italia and, above all, the live Anna Bolena which, in my view, captures Callas at her fabulous best?

I recommend buying this recording for the astounding quality of Callas's singing, for the pleasure di Stefano gives from time to time (provided you keep the sound of Pavarotti out of your mind). Best copy all the tracks without Rossi-Lemeni on your iPod player and enjoy some great bel-canto moments.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sounds good. Good remaster. 1 Oct 2008
By endsng - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The sound quality is good, and since it's Maria Callas, i don't think she was capable of a bad performance, even near the end of her career. Nice 'picture-disc' type CD's.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic - but buy the Pristine Audio issue 12 Jan 2013
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
By far the most important point of this review is to emphasise just how superior the latest Pristine re-mastering (unavailable on Amazon) is even to the excellent one by Mark Obert-Thorn for Naxos Historical and certainly to this EMI issue. It is like hearing this recording for the first time, so full and vivid is Andrew Rose's sound-engineering, instead of the crashing seaside-brass-band chords with which EMI's issue commences the "Sinfonietta", we hear a tutti from what is identifiably the fine orchestra of La Scala, Milan and then, especially, its euphonious horns. There is virtually no hiss, plenty of airy ambience around the voices and instruments and above all, a new depth now that the lower frequencies have been enhanced; the unpleasant metallic quality always previously present is gone. The result is that even the rather gritty, windy and unsteady bass of Rossi-Lemeni - for me always the weakest link in the cast - sounds better than I have ever heard it before. He remains too tremulous in "Cinta di fiori" but this may be construed as being the result of deep emotion; by and large he emerges as the singer who would be the most to be grateful to Pristine for its re-mastering were he able to hear it.

Panerai, too, divides opinion by virtue of the slight tremolo in his rapid vibrato and some occasional unsteadiness and inaudibility but he was only twenty-eight at the time of recording and some nervousness is understandable; otherwise, the musicality and intensity of his singing are admirable. Comparison with predecessors and successors such as Cappuccilli and Battistini reveals some deficiencies in his legato but the latter, for all his vocal supremacy, takes unpardonable liberties by modern standards and Cappuccilli, despite his long-breathed eloquence, is coarser of tone. Neither suggests much desperation in "Ah per sempre" but that most grateful of cantilena arias has always presented the conundrum to a baritone of how to sing it with the smooth assurance the melody requires while simultaneously conveying the emotional import of the thwarted lover. Alongside Panerai's rhythmic delicacy, Battistini's agogic distortions would sound almost comical were it not for the nobility of his voice. Best of all in that lovely music was Giuseppe de Luca, his baritone perfectly even and effortless; Panerai is meanwhile very acceptable, especially as this opera gives Riccardo so much music.

Callas's virtues are well known: superb diction, immaculate phrasing, top D's and E flats in place, magical downward portamenti especially over the interval of a fifth, lapidary coloratura runs through the octave and a pathos and vulnerability of utterance that remain unrivalled. The improved sound simply highlights her vocal prowess.

Di Stefano is nobody's ideal exponent of bel canto; there are strains and he has none of Pavarotti's grace, but the D flat is there and he delivers a virile, impassioned Arturo, full of ardour and animation.

Serafin exhibits empathy with both the idiom of the music and the needs of his singers; his rubato is beautifully judged and he is capable of whipping up excitement over a long span of music. In particular, the arresting opening of the opera is revealed in Serafin's hands to be masterly, the martial expectation segueing elegantly into the offstage hymn of praise; everything is so elegantly paced.

The traditional cuts - 33 in all amounting to 32 minutes less than Bonynge's full score recording - are distressing. The truncation of the ending is especially frustrating but there's nothing we can do about that and what remains is stunning.
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