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4.0 out of 5 stars Good for its era but not amongst the very best, 25 Sept. 2013
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Don Carlo (Audio CD)
In decent mono sound and featuring a notable cast, this "Don Carlo" holds considerable interest for fans of this opera and the singers in question. I have twenty recordings of this darkest and most elaborate of Verdi's operas and I like this one very much, but cannot agree with previous reviewers that it surpasses the more celebrated 1954 recording with Gobbi and Christoff, especially as both Caniglia and Stignani, great artists both in their time, are past their prime despite being only in their mid-forties, but Previtali's conducting is more energised and idiomatic than Santini's and the two big bass roles are taken by impressive singers, with the incomparable Neri as a black-voiced Grande Inquisitore and Rossi-Lemeni far steadier and more imposing than was sometimes the case - even if he hasn't Christoff's vocal personality and presence.

Mirto Picchi had an important career, singing frequently with Callas and Gencer. His tenor is hard and somewhat "bottled", with something of a tremolo in his production, but he had considerable stamina, power and volume. Paolo Silveri was always a reliable, if routine, baritone with the right, if slightly cloudy, Italianate sound and good dramatic instincts. Graziella Sciutti makes a charming impression in the small role of the page Tebaldo and a singer unknown to me, Albino Gaggi, is form and sonorous as the Monk - a part too often under-cast. Sciutti doubles as the Heavenly Voice and the Lerma, Manfredi Ponz de Leon, is also an excellent Herald; excellent voices in depth.

There are a few bloopers and wrong entries from the Rome orchestra and Caniglia, for all that she still has power both up top and in her lower register, no longer has the smooth line and legato required for Elisabeth. Stignani sounds too mature but she's still a class act; her "O don fatale" is terrific.

This is the cut, four Act version, of course; no-one was doing the five Act version in 1951. Those who do not relish the Wagnerian proportions of the full score and prefer the compactness of the revised reduction, will be content. There is a little audience coughing in this radio broadcast but also much good, old-fashioned singing and, as I never tire of observing, if such a cast could be assembled today, we would count ourselves more than grateful.
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Don Carlo
Don Carlo by Giuseppe Verdi (Audio CD - 2012)
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