3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Visceral excitement in Verdi's greatest opera, 2 Jan. 2011
This live recording from Vienna of the 1882 four act edition (with the excisions then customarily observed) is truly one for the ages. Putting aside the caveats first - Waechter is not my ideal of a Verdi baritone with too much bark in his delivery and insufficient Italianate warmth, and Stein's conducting, while dramatic, allows the ensemble to go awry from time to time - this is a stupendous performance of a magnificent opera. The five remaining principals have voices to die for. Corelli's extraordinary tenor is by turns lyrical and plangent with an abundance of squillo in reserve. Janowitz's creamy tone suffused with gorgeous floated pianissimi renders Elisabetta into a melting, slightly ethereal, character. Talvela's Grand Inquisitor oozes inky blackness and is utterly terrifying. Ghiaurov is at the height of his immense powers, surely one of the greatest basses of the century and a vocal actor of incredible force. I leave the best - in my opinion - till last. Verrett's Eboli is simply incomparable here. She encompasses every facet of the role, musically and dramtically. Whether alone or in ensemble, her astonishing mezzo rises to and surpasses every challenge that Verdi demands. It is an incendiary interpretation which left me gaping in admiration and disbelief. From top to bottom (and my goodness, what a bottom!) she owns the role completely. Spellbinding.
Finally, the sound is remarkable for its age - a very good stereo with the voices mostly prominent.
Those present at the Staatsoper on 25 October 1970 rightly offer repeated and clamorous ovations on what clearly was a spectacular evening of grand opera at its most exciting.
Whichever studio recording of this masterpiece you may own already, this version is an essential adjunct. Do not miss it.