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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent historic recording by all Italian cast,
This review is from: Rigoletto (Teatro della Pergola, Firenze 1960) (Audio CD)
This is a reissue of an excellent historic recording made by Ricordi in 1960. The experienced conductor and all Italian principal singers are at the peak of their powers. Ettore Bastianini (Rigoletto) is certainly one of the best Rigolettos I have listened to - at once cynical as a court jester and tender and caring as a father. Renata Scotto's voice as Gilda has the right timbre with a touch of innocence and sadness. Finally, Alfred Kraus (Duke) sings with a superb and full voice which never sounds vulgar that can easily happen in this role.
But, what distinguishes this recording is the conducting by Gavazzeni; it is excellent with very well-chosen tempi. Verdi's and Piave's drama unfolds naturally under his baton.
The original stereo recording was digitally rematered very well, although you need to raise the volume level a little. I already own an earlier CD version by Ricordi, issued by BMG. Its sound quality was rather indifferent, but the new remastering by Andromeda produced a lot of improvements.
Also, the discs have many more tracks compared with the Ricordi version which had only about a dozen tracks. Finally, there is no booklet with translations of the libretto, but it does not make any difference to me since I already have translations for other recordings.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just a very enjoyable recording,
This is a rather special recording for me as it was the first full opera that I bought, aged 15. Listening to it again some twenty odd years later I have to say it hasn't lost any of its original charm. Firstly the opera its self is just a joyous thing. One of the most consistently tuneful works that Verdi composed. The key cast members have all been accused of a lack of conviction in the past, but let's face it, that's probably not why you are listening to Rigoletto in the first place. It's a work that scales the heights of dramatic improbability and there's a very good reason why the Hugo play upon which it is based has been more or less forgotten. It's Verdi's musical inspiration that keeps this work in the repertoire.
Of the cast, Pavarotti sings one of his perfect roles here and at a time when his voice was flawless. Likewise with Sutherland, beautiful singing and every now and again she forgets herself and sings the odd consonant, especially in the first act duet with Rigoletto. She even rolls the initial "R" in 'Caro nome'. I've always enjoyed Sherril Milnes' voice. He may not be Tito Gobbi, but he has a rich sound and seems to be living in the role. The two relatively minor roles of Sparafucile (Martti Talvella) and Maddalena (Huguette Tourangeau) are both superb and even the cameo role of the Countessa Ceprano is taken by a young Kiri te Kanawa. There really isn't a weak link in the singing (perhaps a slightly wobbly Gillian Knight as the nurse Giovanna, but surely we can forgive that).
There's not much not to recommend about this performance. It's an opera that saw it's composer inspired to produce some of his finest music. It's not a great work of theatre, you are listening to it for the music, so the fact that the greatest actors of their generation may not number among the cast doesn't matter so much. It is beautifully sung throughout. The conducting is well paced and sensitive, very well played by the orchestra. I'm enjoying this performance as much today as I did when I first bought it, so if you are looking for a recording of Rigoletto I would say buy with confidence.
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essencial Rigoletto,
If someone wants to know what opera is about, then this is the first one to hear.
Rigoletto is a very beautiful opera, with a wonderful story.
First we have Milnes as Rigoletto. He is in top form and makes us fill his sadness and the terrible "Malidicione".
Pavarotti is my favorite "Duca". The high D at the end of "Possente Amor" makes me think how can he goes so high.
The point of discussion in many of the reviews is Dame Joan Sutherland's Gilda. Sutherland is a "big girl" with a supreme voice and the best technique ever, and Gilda is a delicate young girl. Of course Callas fans allways put down Sutherland, and vice-versa. So Sutherland has the voice and Callas the acting skills. I personly prefer Sutherland's Gilda over Callas, but thats only my opinion. I think them both deserve the Voice of XX century title.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Verdi CD,
This was a good buy. A nice selection of the most popular tracks, beautifully sung. Very good value for money.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listen, relax & enjoy,
A stunning performance of one of the greatest operas, recorded over 30 years ago (in 1971). Pavarotti is splendid as a young & confident Duke while Milnes came as a revelation as Rigoletto. Sutherland's singing is effortlessly flawless, which in no way sounds too old for me (it remains deceptively young while having the depth that comes with years of practice). If her singing is slightly short on the pronunciation or dramatic side it remains divine.
Normally Rigoletto is my second favorite opera (after Don Giovanni), though while listening to this recording it coasts to number one. I do not remember hearing a finer rendition.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous!,
I re-discovered Verdi's genius when I saw the movie "Quartet" and ordered this for all the highlights. It surpassed all my expectations. It is so beautiful sung by the best of voices. I love this addition to my classical CD collection.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect,
This was one of DECCA's super-cast performances of the '60s and '70s, intended to give "definitive" interpretations of the works recorded. Unfortunately, this time the mark was missed by a small margin.
The greatest problem is Richard Bonynge. Though Rigoletto is NOT a conductor's opera, a good conductor is required to create the proper mood and to assist the singers in making this very old-fashioned tale, sound believable and vital. Mr Bonynge with his "historic" approach does everything in his power to stress the old-fashioned elements in Verdi's score and constantly underplays the dramatic aspects of the work.
Sherrill Milnes was never an ideal Verdi baritone in the traditional sense. The voice had a sharp edge, the sound lacked the uniformity and authority of a true dramatic baritone and there was often a tenor ring to his, otherwise very impressive, high register. Still, he was a great artist, -not only a great actor (as is the case with Gobbi,) but also a great SINGER. His musicianship is fascinating, his phrasing has an irresistible charm and, of course, his portrayal is mesmerizing. I think he is one of the greatest Rigolettos on record.
Luciano Pavarotti, naturally, is THE Duke of Mantua. The sound of the voice alone carries all the qualities that are needed to portray this irresistible cad. Pavarotti sounds youthfull, charming, suave and passionate. Above all, he sounds Italian. There is that special feelling in every note he utters, that reminds us that this art is part of his heritage, -perhaps part of his DNA. No need to add that, this being 1971, he is in spectacular form and his high notes are breath-taking.
Unfortunately, this recording comes rather late in Joan Sutherland's carreer. By 1971, though her abilities were undiminished, the voice had taken on a mature sound, which failled to convey Gilda's girlishness, especially in the first act. As the drama progresses, her Gilda becomes more convincing and, by the time we reach the last act, she has us "in her thrall". Still, I must confess that whenever I want to hear HER in Rigoletto, I pull out the older (and desperately flawed, as far as her co-stars are concerned) recording from 1962.
Martti Talvela is a spine-chilling Sparafucile, his low notes, especially, being among the most cavernous ever recorded.
You may think that Maddalena is not an important role, but unfortunately she does take part in two of the most beautiful numbers in the last act and Huguette Tourangeau, with her atrocious low register, does everything in her power to ruin them.
All in all, this is a set that has a lot to offer and, given the competition, it is certainly one of the contestants for the "best-available" recording of Rigoletto, but, alas, perfect it is not.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant,
By A Customer
This is a stunning disc, well presented, with a superb cast. Pavarotti is a superb Duke, Milnes is a strong Rigoletto and Sutherland sings Gilda well. The main competition for this recording is the famous recording by Callas, di Stefano and Gobbi. It is true that Sutherland falls slightly short of the heights reached by Callas, but she does sing gorgeously. Pavarotti is more than equal to di Stefano, with even better high notes, and Milnes' angry Rigoletto is just as stunning as Gobbi.
The Stereo sound is excellent and makes the Callas set sound ghastly in comparison.
This is the best recording made in stereo, and one of the best ever.
Buy with confidence!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars La Stupenda,
Joan Sutherland or Maria Callas? I still can't make up my mind but Sutherland's Gualtier Maldè is simply breathtaking. There may be minor flaws with this recording but for me it is the Rigoletto that sets the standard for others to strive for.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely recording,
Not one I knew well, but decided to buy it after seeing the film Quartet. Really pleased I did as it is just so good and a lot of the arias I had heard before but not known from which opera.
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