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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Pagliacci on disc
Herbert von Karajan is not usually one of my favorite conductors. In both symphonic and operatic repertoire, he often seems unspontaneous and cold, putting musical texture as his priority. In many of his operatic performances, he takes sluggish tempi and drowns out the singers. But give him a lush, darkly lyrical work like "Pagliacci", powerful-voiced...
Published on 15 Feb 2001 by cdsullivan@massed.net

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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Sound Quality Spoils An Otherwise Excellent Recording
As far as sound quality is concerned, this is one of the worst recordings I've come across. The orchestra dominates, especially when accompanying the chorus so that the different harmony lines from the chorus are 'fudged' and lost. The top vocal line in particular, from the sopranos, is almost non-existent, therefore the balance is extremely poor. For someone like me,...
Published 15 months ago by I M Mackley


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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Pagliacci on disc, 15 Feb 2001
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This review is from: Leoncavallo: I Pagliacci (DG The Originals) (Audio CD)
Herbert von Karajan is not usually one of my favorite conductors. In both symphonic and operatic repertoire, he often seems unspontaneous and cold, putting musical texture as his priority. In many of his operatic performances, he takes sluggish tempi and drowns out the singers. But give him a lush, darkly lyrical work like "Pagliacci", powerful-voiced singers, and he will give you a glorious performance. On this 1965 La Scala recording, his tempi are slow, but they are completely well-judged and appropriate, making other interpretations seem hasty. He treats "Pagliacci" with respect instead of vulgarly manhandling it, and Karajan's approach is the only one that will convey this opera's verismo greatness. His interpretation is superbly refined, gloriously lyrical and singing yet also thrillingly dramatic. Helped by superb, idiomatic playing from the La Scala Orchestra, his creation is unmatched on disc.
We are very fortunate that DG had some of the world's greatest singers under contract when it made this recording (and the Cavalleria Rusticana dating from the same year). Almost all the members of the cast are Italian, essential for this work; only the Nedda is not Italian. Even the tiny roles of the two villagers are sung idiomatically and with firm resonance. But the principles, and particularly the Canio of Carlo Bergonzi, are appropriately the source of the best performances. Bergonzi does not quite have the animal intensity and heroic ring of a Del Monaco, but he compensates with intelligence and gorgeous, elegant phrasing. He is on fantastic form in this recording and the Cavalleria, almost totally eliminating his vibrato to produce velvety, sumptuous sounds of enormous volume and purity. Take any of his high Bs and B-flats and the point will be immediately taken - and he is considerably more involved in the drama than he often was, perhaps inspired by Karajan. The only drawbacks in his performance are his totally unconvincing (but mercifully short) histrionics at the end of "Vesti la giubba" and the end of the opera. His Nedda is Joan Carlyle, who sings radiantly in the more lyrical parts of the role, but lacks the necessary Italian fire and temperament for her big outbursts of rage. Still, her wonderful voice puts her on a par with her most illustrious predecessors, including Victoria de los Angeles and Montserrat Caballé. Tonio is sung by the magnificent Italian baritone Giuseppe Taddei. He was almost fifty when this recording was made, and has seen steadier days, but the intoxicating velvet of his enormous voice can still be marveled at, even at the strenuously lyrical climax of the prologue. The other baritone, Rolando Panerai, is similarly magnificent. He sounds very young, which is quite unusual for a baritone, and is totally comfortable with Silvio's wide range. His instrument is large and ringing, and exceptionally beautiful. Ugo Benelli is an excellent Beppe, and the chorus of La Scala contributes superb work. Excellently and spaciously recorded, this will remain the benchmark performance of Pagliacci for many years to come.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The one to have - Absolutely superb, 23 Sep 2007
This review is from: Leoncavallo: I Pagliacci (DG The Originals) (Audio CD)
This version of Pagliacci really gives everything. Bergonzi offers a portrait of Canio as a real tragic hero -no melodramatic histrionics, just sumptuous vocalism with beautiful expression of a man hurt to the core of his being. Carlyle, a singer I once or twice heard live during her all too brief career, is in her element here. She captures to perfection the ambiguity of her part - a really 'sexy' voice too, in a way that I would only use to describe Mara Zampieri in some of her recordings. Very appropriate in this part. Taddei is a total master, really the greatest post-War Italian baritone (I am not forgetting Gobbi,Bruson and Cappuccilli), and Panerai almost as brilliant. Karajan's many detractors will complain about his conducting being slow, sumptuous, etc., but in this instance I was totally convinced. Very highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pagliacci - Opera in the raw!, 28 Sep 2009
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This review is from: Leoncavallo: I Pagliacci (DG The Originals) (Audio CD)
In a Radio4 interview some weeks ago, Ernest Borgnine recommended Pagliacci as the one opera loved and admired by Italians. Being intrigued, I researched various versions on line. I have many opera compilations in my CD collection and dip into favourites on a daily basis, but I play & listen to Pagliacci as an entity. And what a performance! I could have chosen contemporary big name performers but I couldn't be more pleased with this recording with Karajan at the helm of the truly authentic 'Coro Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala'.
With a World class conductor & ensemble, the principals give an exquisitely faultless performance, bringing the pathos & tragedy 'alive' - so much so, I am set on a course of wanting to see a live performance - in Italy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid Pag., 1 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Leoncavallo: I Pagliacci (DG The Originals) (Audio CD)
DG must have known that something special was taking place here. This must be one of Karajan's finest recordings.
A must for any Opera collector.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Sound Quality Spoils An Otherwise Excellent Recording, 7 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Leoncavallo: I Pagliacci (DG The Originals) (Audio CD)
As far as sound quality is concerned, this is one of the worst recordings I've come across. The orchestra dominates, especially when accompanying the chorus so that the different harmony lines from the chorus are 'fudged' and lost. The top vocal line in particular, from the sopranos, is almost non-existent, therefore the balance is extremely poor. For someone like me, who was wanting to hear the chorus parts in particular (because I'm singing in a production of the opera in a few months time), it was of little use and was therefore very frustrating. Having said that, the solo vocals are good and I enjoyed those and was able to forget, for a few moments, how disappointing the rest of it was.
Oddly, the CD arrived in a double CD case, yet there's only one CD, which makes it unnecessarily bulky.
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Leoncavallo: I Pagliacci (DG The Originals)
Leoncavallo: I Pagliacci (DG The Originals) by Ruggiero Leoncavallo (Audio CD - 2004)
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