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Verdi: Otello Live

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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  • Performer: Aleksanrs Antonenko, Krassimira Stoyanova, Carlo Guelfi, Barbara Di Castri, Juan Francisco Gatell, et al.
  • Orchestra: Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Riccardo Muti
  • Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
  • Audio CD (30 Sept. 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Live
  • Label: Cso-Resound
  • ASIN: B00EASFRVU
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 101,506 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Product Description

CSO 9011301; CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA; Classica Lirica

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This recording from concert performances is largely fabulous. Muti is as good as any conductor of this great piece on record. It is such an Italian reading in all the right ways and his tempi are perfectly judged. When I heard Antonenko sing this role of Covent Garden he reminded so much of Jon Vickers and this set confirms this impression. Indeed unlike Vickers for RCA, Antonenko has stage experience of the part and it shows here. Krassimira Stoyanova also walks with the giants who have recorded Desdemona and brings some backbone to her characterisation as well as some truly glorious singing. Guelfi is no Gobbi, however he is vocally strong and musical and no worse an interpreter than some other Jagos - Diaz, Protti, Glossop etc. Other roles are well cast, the Chicago orchestra is fantastic and the chorus very good. Vivid rich modern sound from the CSO live series with the voices well balanced. I got this set for around £10 which is excellent value for money. It is neatly packed and libretto included. (It should perhaps be a 4.5 star performance due to quibbles over the baritone but I am sure others will mark it down for this}
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Very good
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9e2b015c) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1ebab94) out of 5 stars The real stars are Muti and the CSO! 2 Jan. 2014
By J. L. Carr - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I attended this Otello in Carnegie Hall and in 50 years of concert/opera going have never been as bowled over as I was during the first 5 min. of this performance. In spite of exciting performances from Levine, etc. at the Met, this was like hearing the score for the first time. Subtleties in the orchestration that I had never heard before were startling to hear. The same for the fantastic CSO Chorus. And this comes through in the wonderful recording. While Antonenko (the Otello) is certainly not a Domingo or Vickers, the ring to his voice and the musicianship certainly make it a memorable performance. And the sound is stunning. And the booklet/libretto is very informative. I got it through an Amazon fulfillment dealer "used" and it was brand new. Highly recommended.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e13bc90) out of 5 stars Very good singers and a great orchestra produce something successful 28 Sept. 2013
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Three elements in this live recording from 2011 are a given: the astonishing virtuosity of the CSO, the overwhelming effect of the CSO Chorus at full strength - twice as many singers as one would hear in the opera house - and Muti's authority in Verdi. But the same elements were present in his last recording, a Verdi Requiem completely undone by subpar singing. As a vocal challenge, Otello ranks among the most demanding, not just in Verdi but in all opera. Approaching this new recording, I was holding my breath. For anyone impatient for a conclusion, the singing cast is generally quite good enough, combined with every other virtue, to make the project a success. Throwing in the wonderful sonics, this Otello feels like redemption after the ill-fated concert recording that Pavarotti undertook under Solti, even though the solo singing isn't nearly as starry.

To credibly cast the major roles in Verdi and Wagner anywhere in the world, Russian singers (and Eastern Europeans in general) have been a saving grace, but gratitude must be combined with a few concessions - these singers don't sound like traditional Italianate Verdi voices, and for all the passion they exude, it doesn't often feel like Verdian passion. Sometimes these concessions prove too much for me, but not here, with so much glorious music-making to enjoy. The cast consists of singers I've never encountered, with two exceptions.

Aleksandrs Antonenko (Otello), Krassimira Stoyanova (Desdemona), Carlo Guelfi (Iago), Barbara Di Castri (Emilia), Juan Francisco Gatell (Cassio), Michael Spyres (Roderigo), Paolo Battaglia (Montano), Eric Owens (Lodovico) & David Govertsen (Herald)

The two exceptions are Eric Owens, the Met's splendid Alberich, here in a minor role, and the Iago of Carlo Guelfi, whom I heard at the Met when Ben Heppner assumed the role of Otello. Guelfi is certainly idiomatic, but the voice is wobbly - time hasn't been kind to it - and he doesn't act vocally to any extent. His Act II "Credo," the touchstone of any Iago, isn't secure and comes close to being a shambles. But Guelfi has dramatic presence as a veteran in the role.

On to the Slavic pairing of Antonenko's Otello and Stoyanova's Desdemona. It wouldn't be fair to complain about his Italian when Vickers, who never sounded remotely Italianate, was a commanding Otello. Antonenko has the requisite elements we associate with the role, a big sound with baritonal coloring, and he's willing to use his voice with dramatic force, if not the abandon of Vickers. Actually, I can't think of anyone on the current scene who sounds better or does a better job with the role all around. (I suspect that the microphone might be helping Antonenko in the volume department, though. In "Dio! Mi potevi" he is moving but rather light, missing Domingo's absolute conviction.) Stoyanova's reputation is quite good, and she sounds comfortable in her role, with the right lyrical delivery, steady tone, and some emotional appeal. But of the two leads, she is the more distant and generic. Nothing goes amiss, but nothing is very memorable, either.

It's such a relief to hear the right voices in these roles that I hardly want to grumble, but here goes. This Otello and Desdemona aren't deeply enough into their tragic characters, and at times they deliver standard emoting in the Russian style - I felt that I was closer to the world of Boris Godunov at times than the world of Verdi. Still, Antonenko's high notes are thrilling and secure. Muti is a bit restrained and cool, too - not his old fiery self - while on the positive side his beat is more flexible and adapts to his singers rather than driving them with a stick. The choral singing is more oratorio-like than operatic, with little emotional involvement. One doesn't mind too much, given such perfect intonation and ensemble. The orchestra is somewhat too tidy, too, but these drawbacks are common in concert performances of operas.

In sum, the results are much better than on Colin Davis's concert Otello with the strangulated, over-parted Simon O'Neill (on LSO Live). I've tried to be objective about Muti's relative detachment and the singers' relative weaknesses when compared with the best in these roles. I arrived feeling skeptical and came away more impressed than I expected to be.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e110cf0) out of 5 stars PROBABLY THE BEST 'OTELLO' EVER RECORDED 22 Feb. 2014
By LES - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Am not going into a lot of detail here because the opera is so well known and so many recordings of it exist. First of all, the whole show is dominated by Muti, who shapes the opera to such dramatic proportions that, like Toscanini's legendary recording (1947), the conductor himself emerges the real star. The sonics are very powerful here, especially in the Venetian Scene, with the chorus bursting out like an unstoppable force, and the orchestra surpasses any that I've heard on any previous Otello. Alekandrs Antonenko is a dark and mighty Otello, passionate, "off his rocker", and is capable of moments of bombastic fury. Even in the early love duet with Desdemona, there are moments when his passion and love for Desdemona reveal that he is an insanely jealous man.At the conclusion, he is reduced to ashes, and his catharsis becomes almost painful. An overwhelming and towering impersonation. The luscious voiced Russian soprano, Krassimira Stayanova is surely the most beautiful and tragic Desdemona since the revered Renata Tebaldi in her best days. The voice has a liquid flow to it, can soften into a beautiful piano, yet possesses sufficient power to soar out in the Venetian Scene. Carlo Guelfi may not quite rise to the same level as the same level as his two most illustrious colleagues, but his Iago is certainly credible. But in the end, it is Muti who runs this show, and it is Muti who is the real star of the set. The superlative Chicago Symphony Orchestra has hardly ever sounded better. The sheer playing of the music alone makes this recording a must-have. How lucky we are in Chicago to have such a distinguished resident conductor Hopefully, Muti will follow this up with his vivid and compelling "Macbeth" concert performance that followed the following year. Congratulations to all the spectacular musicians who participated in this magnificent recording. There are moments that will glow you away.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f282ab0) out of 5 stars Verdi and Muti are twins. 19 Dec. 2013
By Theresa M. Dicioccio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is an absolute must for anyone waiting for an Otello to meet high standards. I was at Carnegie Hall for the live concert and Muti is an exceptional interpreter of Verdi. The CD was so vivid that I could picture the artists on stage and wonderful Muti at his best. If you love Verdi, don't let this cd pass by.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e13b2d0) out of 5 stars So Close to a Five-Star Recording, But Not Close Enough 2 Feb. 2014
By Robert B. Lamm - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
How I desperately wanted to adore this recording! The stars were so close to being in complete alignment! However, at the end of the day, in all good conscience, I can't get there from here. The most I could give it would be 4.5 stars, but the half-point demerit is a significant one in this case.

First the bad news: I don't know why a better Iago couldn't have been found. I'm not familiar with Carlo Guelfi, but I gather he may be approaching the end of his career. That's not a flaw in itself, as we've all seen and heard great singers show why they're great even at the ends of their careers. Alas, he doesn't pull it off (and I don't know if he ever could have). He's clearly an old man, or at least sounds like one, and the bad news starts with his "Credo." He bleats rather than sings, and reminds me of nothing so much as an operatic John McCain telling people to get off his lawn. A very poor choice indeed, and because of the critical importance of this role, I just can't see my way to a five-star rating.

Now for the good news - the other singers are wonderful. I'd seen Stoyanova in Vienna a million years ago and don't really remember what she sounded like, but her voice is wonderful throughout her range, and in particular it's a pleasure to hear the lower notes sung so well - though her high notes float and are lovely to the ear. She creates a great character with her voice, and that's no mean feat. Similarly, Antonenko is a great Otello; passionate, loving, angry and miserable. I've noted some reviewers claiming that the lead singers are not sufficiently "Italianate," but (a) I'm not even sure what that means and (b) I disagree. Some other roles are cast very well, including (as one other reviewer notes) the amazing Eric Owens as Lodovico.

Muti's conducting is phenomenal, as are the orchestra and chorus of the Chicago Lyric Opera - they bring back the glory days under Solti. I really think Muti "gets" Verdi better than anyone else who is recording today. My only quibble with him is that the last big chorus in Act III seems different from every other recording I've ever heard. Anybody know what that's about?

Net-net, it's a wonderful recording and well worth having, but the fatal flaw noted above prevents it from earning the five-star rating that I so wish I could give it.
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