NB This is a review of the Ponto recording, a carbon copy of the OR version.
This Ponto recording (John Matheson/London 1972) of the 1867 score (which includes passages cut before the Paris premiere) is a carbon copy of the Opera Rara release, but without the latter's bulky packaging (only a 12-page booklet, helpful though it is). Compared with the Orfeo set of the 2004 Vienna performance of the same score (also released on DVD, a terrible production), the Ponto is preferable, as far as both voice and intonation are concerned: at Vienna, the performers (none of them French) show signs of difficulty coping with the language, not to mention the fact that they are generally below their best. In addition to Robert Lloyd (Monk) and Richard van Allan (Grand Inquisitor), the 1972 mainly French-Canadian cast are more comfortable with the text: Joseph Rouleau (Philippe), Andre Turp (Carlos), Robert Savoie (Rodrigue), Edith Tremblay (Elisabeth), and Michelle Vilma (Eboli). Though Verdi's revisions are superior, much of the music from the original is too memorable to be discarded: the woodcutters scene, the duets (Rodrigue/Carlos, Philippe/Rodrigue, Elisabeth/Philippe, Eboli/Elisabeth, and Carlos/Elisabeth), the masquerade and ballet, the quartet, Emeute, and finale. Minor vocal disappointment comes from Vilma's occasionally blowzy Eboli, and Savoie's slightly wobbly Rodrigue (sounding more bass than baritone, he almost chokes during the trio with Elisabeth and Eboli). The ENO Guide (Number 46) is an excellent substitute for the missing libretto on this set, which (consoling compensation) includes highlights from the revised version but sung in French (Alain Vanzo/1961). If you're on a tight budget (the OR release is too pricey), get this recording (the sound is faultless) with the ENO text (which - in addition to the libretto in French, Italian and English - contains informative articles and editorial notes on textual variants in English).