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Rigoletto (Solti)

Giuseppe Verdi , George Solti , RCA Italiana Opera Orchestra and Chorus , Robert Merrill , Anna Moffo , et al. Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Performer: Robert Merrill, Anna Moffo, Alfredo Kraus
  • Orchestra: RCA Italiana Opera Orchestra and Chorus
  • Conductor: George Solti
  • Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
  • Audio CD (16 Oct 1987)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Red Seal
  • ASIN: B000026MOQ
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 292,481 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strong contender in a crowded field 29 Nov 2008
By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
"Rigoletto" has been well served on disc; you can go right back to the 1950 RCA Victor set with Leonard Warren, or the 1954 Cetra set with Taddei (see my review), and be very satisfied both with the sound and the superlative performances. I do not find that more recent recordings reach that standard and do not particularly rate the DG version conducted by Giulini; as much as I admire the artists in other things, that set seems to me to lack the edge and theatricality of earlier recordings such as this one - and the voices are simply not as exciting. You certainly get plenty of excitement here, with Merrill turning a performance just as stirring vocally and perhaps even better acted than his earlier Perlea set with Bjorling. He is in tremendous form, that great, bronze voice caressing Verdi's beautiful melodies and his engagement with the role is matched by the technically flawless, girlish, touching Gilda of Moffo, her voice in its liquid, open-hearted prime. She makes judicious use of portamenti and floats top notes without any strain. This is a performance to match her Violetta (see my review). I have read elsewhere that Solti drives hard - too hard - but I hear no inappropriate rush in the more introspective moments such as Gilda's "Tutte le feste" and he can certainly be relied upon to maximise the horror and pathos of that terrible thunderstorm scene. As ever, I have minor reservations about Kraus' Duke. Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best 30 Jan 2010
Format:Audio CD
Excellent version with the gorgeously-voiced Anna Moffo. Just listen to the soft bloom of her high notes in Caro Nome and , in fact, throughout. Unjustly neglected - perhaps because she spent a lot of time in Italy rather than the US. Who can compare with the Duke of Alfredo Kraus? His ardent performance is thrilling, with tons of squillo and a lovely woody sound in the middle. Solti as conductor sets good tempi throughout and, in my view at least, keeps singer interpolations just about right.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meine Lieblingsaufnahme der Oper Rigoletto 16 Oct 2011
Format:Audio CD
Von allen Aufnahmen der Oper Rigoletto, die ich kenne, ist das für mich die beste, vor allem dank des ausdrucksstarken Robert Merrill in der Titelrolle. Aber auch Anna Moffo als Gilda hat die zarte und schmelzreiche Stimme, die ich mir für diese Rolle wünsche. Alfredo Kraus hat wohl nicht das betörende Timbre, das andere Tenöre für den Herzog mitbringen, aber er singt sehr kultiviert - und irgendwie passt er genau für die Figur, die ja eigentlich eher unsympathisch sein soll. Mit Rosalind Elias und Ezio Flagello sind auch in den kleineren Rollen sehr gute Sänger. Und Solti dirigiert wie von ihm gewohnt mit Feuer eher schnelle Tempi.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Viva Verdi !!! 22 July 2001
By Michel
Format:Audio CD
Of all the versions available of Rigoletto this one is by a good margin my favorite. All soloists possess the ideal vocal profile for their roles. Robert Merrill with his bronze-like rock solid voice offers here a stirring portrait of the hunchback capturing his bitterness and heartbreak splendidly. Anna Moffo is a lovely and touching Gilda - she brings considerable warmth and tenderness to the part and sings an exquisite "Caro nome". Alfredo Kraus is perhaps the best Duca on disc - he sings with superb aplomb and captures the seductive and cruel side of the character like few others. The rest of the cast is in very good hands. Georg Solti is
perhaps a bit hard-driven but the end result is undeniably exciting.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Near perfect - wow. 29 Oct 2008
By John Bratincevic - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Originally posted on my music review blog. Check my profile if you are interested.

Note that this review was written of the later reissue, so my comments on the sound may not be applicable. That edition is here- Verdi: Rigoletto

'Rigoletto' has had many excellent recordings over the years. In the beginning of the LP era, it was one of the first complete operas produced, with the incomparable Leonard Warren in the title role. When stereo emerged, each label dutifully churned out its own star-studded 'Rigoletto,' featuring such luminaries as Ettore Bastianini, Carl Bergonzi, Joan Sutherland, and the like. And this trend has continued to the present. 'Rigoletto' is one of the strongest warhorses of the recorded repertoire and will likely continue to be. Yet, surprisingly, in almost every recording of the opera, there is some obvious weak link.

Not so here. In Robert Merrill, we have the most glorious baritone voice of the postwar period--a dark and resonant instrument with ringing top notes and an unfailing sense of legato. Often criticized for `just singing' and not adequately portraying his characters, Merrill's performance here sweeps all such criticisms aside. His scenes with Gilda are tender, warm, and affectionate--entirely contrary to his nasty antics at the court of Mantua. Then witness his 'Cortigiani' and 'Si, Vendetta,' in which he unleashes his voice in righteous, paternal fury. And the moment when his daughter dies is crushing, not in the voice of a pathetic and deformed clown, but as a man overcome by grief in failing his greatest duty. To him, the hunchbacked jester is an almost noble character, twisted into viciousness by his infirmity. More than any other singer who has portrayed Rigoletto, he is utterly believable as a loving and vengeful father. It is truly his finest role.

Gilda is admirably cast as well. From a purely musical standpoint, Anna Moffo's Gilda about as good as anyone could expect, with lovely, even tone from top to bottom, a seemingly perfect sense of phrasing, and not the slightest hint of vocal strain. Luckily, Gilda requires more musical skills than interpretive ones, though Ms. Moffo is not without some insight. Her 'Caro Nome' is full of girlish longing. Similarly, her 'Tutte le Feste al tiempo' tugs at one's heart strings in just the right way--she is just so perfectly nave and angelic, it seems nearly inevitable that someone will murder her.

Merrill's Rigoletto and Moffo's Gilda have few if any challengers, but the role of the Duke is another matter. Most every great tenor has taken a shot at the role, whether he was suited to it or not. Kraus succeeds admirably, though not without reservations. Frankly, his main weakness is that his reedy voice is not the equal of Pavarotti or Björling. But such comparisons are unfair--on his own terms, Kraus is a perfectly rakish Duke, full style, and may be summarized as an insightful study in shallowness. He is perhaps the most flippant Duke on record--in 'Ella mi fu Rapita,' his "ardent" longing for Gilda is expressed in almost irritated terms, like he's lost a toy. 'La donna è Mobile' is full of verve and swagger, clearly conveying the Duke's irreverent attitude.

The chorus is handled very well, and the smaller parts are consistently well cast. Ezio Flagello's Sparafucile is less illustrious than some (most notably Cesare Siepi), but serves very well, particularly in the final scene. David Ward is perhaps the best and most convincing Monterone on disc, in sonorous, commanding voice. And Rosalind Elias is very good indeed, injecting a great deal of character into the otherwise small role of Maddalena.

Solti's conducting is very typical of the maestro. From beginning end, it's loud, blaring hell on wheels, indulging in dynamic extremes and delivered with an orchestral sledgehammer. In Solti's hands, Verdi's claims of serving drama through music are well borne out. A lighter, more lyrical hand might be preferred in the opening party scene, but otherwise, it serves the taut drama of the opera perfectly.

RCA's sonics are brain splitting. The balance between voices and orchestra is pleasingly theatre-like, so much that the performance sometimes sounds like an unusually good live recording.

In all, this is perhaps the most consistent and dramatic reading of 'Rigoletto' ever committed to disc.

Highly recommended.

Rating: A
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