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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible bargain with an incredible conductor, 7 Aug 2006
T. A. Hardy (Nottingham United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This is a unique performance that astonishes by its overwhelming theatricality. The usual suspects are not here.

Even Leonard Warren and Licia Albanese never recorded their roles on commercial discs. The great surprise is the wonderful Otello of Torsten Ralf - a Wagnerian heldentenor who has a superb voice for the part. His bright voice is always distinguishable from Warren's Iago - which is not the case in many other recordings. He combines the best of both Martinelli and Vinay! The last surprise is the dramatic urgent performance of the conductor. The quality of execution should not surprise but the drama may well do so. It is George Szell who is not well known as an opera conductor but in this performance he is the equal or more of the many great conductors who have performed this work. The price is incredible so rush out and buy!
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't overlook this one........, 24 Dec 2011
This review is from: Verdi: Otello (Audio CD)
This recording seems to have been forgotten, but it might just be my favourite Otello. The only downsides are the absence of the last degree of dramatic commitment from Cossutta and the slightly worn nature of Bacquier's (Iago) top notes here: if only he'd recorded it a few years earlier.
Now to the pluses: Cossutta has exactly the right sort of voice for the part, Bacquier is cunning and highly dramatic and Price is simply magnificent. The Cassio, for once is a major voice: Petr Dvorsky and this really tells in the ensembles: he's not the only comprimario role that is well cast but he is the standout. Which brings me to the trump cards: some of Solti's Verdi recordings (perhaps also his Wagnerian ones?) show a tendency to overreact to incidental details. Here he is more classical and more powerful at once and has a fantastic orchestra and chorus at his disposal. The Wiener Philharmoniker is in top form (quite something, that), the Staatsopernchor hardly less so and they're captured in stunning Decca late analogue sound.
If you need to be convinced try to sample the Act 3 duet for Otello and Desdemona, "Dio ti giocondi, o sposo" for the voices and the ensemble "Viva Otello" that comes after the following scene with Iago. Price and Cossutta spar brilliantly and do it all from the notes. In the ensemble, the antiphonal trumpets and the chorus in full cry ought to curl your toes, the Staatsopernchor sopranos soar right up to a top C without any difficulty.
There are other great recordings of the piece, including several by "you-know-who" but even they can't shake this one for me. By the end the sense of tragedy is overwhelming.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative!, 30 Jan 2012
J J. Mayhew - See all my reviews
This review is from: Verdi: Otello (MP3 Download)
Domingo has recorded the role of Otello several times but here he is in his absolute prime, old enough to fully understand and interpret the part, young enough to bleaze forth when called for. Unlike another reviewer I find no fault in the recording quality at all - it is dazzlingly wide-ranging. Diaz may not match Gobbi as Iago, but he is oily and manipulative enough and sings beautifully. And if there is a lovelier Desdemona on disc than Katia Ricciarelli, I have not heard it! Her floated pianissimi are really something extraordinary and she radiates goodness and purity, while still having the spinto power the part often demands.

Maazel's conducting has caused some controversy, but he carries the drama along with undoubted flair. Recorded as a soundtrack to the Zeffirelli film, this, unlike the movie itself, is complete in case you wondered. With La Scala's orchestra and chorus, it's a sumptuous and authentic sound that wraps around the principles. The minor roles are not star players, but join in with the drama, which is what matters. It's the recording of the opera I play most often.
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Verdi: Otello
Verdi: Otello by Giuseppe Verdi (Audio CD - 1999)
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