Top critical review
7 people found this helpful
Sutherland, MacNeil and a negligible tenor
on 8 April 2005
This is the "Rigoletto" for people who are not particularly interested in "Rigoletto".
The main draw, naturally, is Joan Sutherland. She offers all her youthful strengths in full measure: the amazing agility, the brilliant top, the unmatched sense of assurance. She also presents an equally expected languid dreaminess and a preference for vocal beauty over dramatic commitment. (Why did she, who could be side-splittingly funny in comedies, so often choose to seem such a droop in dramas?)
Cornell MacNeil, as usual, sings wonderfully, taking full care that dramatic requirements interfere as little as possible with the golden sound of his voice. Many years ago I saw Tito Gobbi, then at the very end of his career, sing in "Nabucco". The poor man's voice was giving out and there were dry patches that were painful to hear. A couple of years later I saw MacNeil in the very same production. To this day, I recall Gobbi's overwhelming presence as the mad king and every nuance of his megalomania, fall and redemption. MacNeil, by contrast, sang very prettily.
As the Duke, Renato Cioni had progressed from annoying (as he was in the Pritchard-conducted "Lucia" with Sutherland) to negligible. The first time I listened to this recording, I was convinced that the Duke's first big aria, Questo o quella, had been omitted. I started the disk over again and there it was--but offered in such a lackluster way that I hadn't noticed it on the first time through.
This should not be anyone's first or only "Rigoletto", but it will be of interest to fans of Sutherland or MacNeil.