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on 17 February 2013
This is a volcanic performance of Verdis Opera. Solti drives the music very hard indeed at times, but it is tremendously exciting. He could have slowed down a bit at times but the whole performance has a meteoric impulse. The cast is superb with Merrill's wonderful tones, krauss' fiery Duke and Moffo's haunting, affecting Gilda. The smaller parts are also well done. Recommended to those who like their Verdi pungent and dramatic.
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I am surprised to find myself recommending this whole-heartedly, even in comparison with the now legendary Gobbi-Callas-Di Stefano set or more recent favourites such as the Milnes-Sutherland-Pavarotti Decca version (not to all tastes, I know), but there are many strong reasons for my advocacy of this rather ancient Cetra recording.

First, the 1954 mono sound has now been immeasurably improved from earlier issues, when it was harsh and strident. It is now clean, with the voices well forward and offers little distortion in climaxes. Then we have the quality of both the singing and the conducting. Angelo Questa presided over many admirable Cetra recordings, including a very recommendable 1956 "Aida" with a young Corelli; here he directs a subtle, unfussy, wholly idiomatic performance with an orchestra and chorus who have the music and language in their blood.

Many collectors and opera buffs will want this recording for both Taddei at his best and Ferruccio Tagliavini, a tenore di grazia, famous for his honeyed mezza voce and head tones who nonetheless had steel in his tone when he needed it. The frequency with which he resorts to those quieter effects might take a modern listener, more used to the Pavarotti approach to this role - all brilliance and verve - a little by surprise - but it is musically and dramatically very effective and perhaps preferable to Di Stefano's more effortful delivery.

Taddei's characterisation is less biting than Gobbi's but richer of voice and just as subtle. He is very moving in his appeal to the courtiers and capable of powerful scorn, too; I love both his and Gobbi's assumptions. Pagliughi was then approaching the end of her career and is at times a mite breathless and tweety, and some runs are smudged, some top notes unsteady - but she is a skilled, experienced and affecting singer who effectively voices the naive Gilda, whereas Callas, wonderfully dramatic as she is, doesn't quite capture the quality of girlishness.

The all-Italian supporting cast, headed by the aptly-named, black-voiced Giulio Neri, is wholly idiomatic.

The test of any recording of "Rigoletto" is often in that wondrous last Act, and while this one doesn't quite match the thrill of the Serafin, it still sweeps the listener along with its relentless tension and the terrible pathos of its conclusion. If you had only one "Rigoletto", there is no reason why it should not be this one.

There are a few, brief cuts as was the standard practice at the time. No libretto.
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on 23 May 2009
This is probably one of the best recordings of Rigoletto on the market today. It is a live recording from the Royal Opera in Stockholm 1959 with two Royal Court Singers in main parts: Nicolai Gedda in absolute top form as the Duke (yes, an easily taken high d!) and the excellent Margareta Hallin as a perfect Gilda, vulnerable and vocally absolute secure. All the others, including Rigoletto himself (Hugo Hasslo - a long standing public favourite in Stockhom) are in their best form. Six of them has been made Royal Court Singers, a very high distinction: Hugo Hasslo (see above), Barbro Ericson (later an overwhelming Klytaemnestra), Birgit Nordin (Queen of the Night in Ingmar Bergman's Zauberflote), Arne Tyren (a distinguished Wotan), Kerstin Meyer, CBE and Ingvar Wixell, here in the small role of Ceprano! Excellent mono sound; if you want only one recording of this opera, this one really is worth considering. Sung in Italian!
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on 21 May 2014
Giuseppe Sinopoli was a great loss to Verdi fans. His sensitive reading of his scores are palpable - just listen to the opening prelude here - Sinopoli offers an intimate brass quartet that builds until the orchestra reminds us that this is Verdi, and drama. Or the way he slows things down at the beginning of Act I scene 2 - emphasising Rigoletto's fear of the future and the curse that hangs over him.

This is a faithful reading of the score, so don't get this if you want your top B at the end of "La Donna e mobile" or the other interloped stuff. That said here is a great line up of singers. Shicoff is a tad heavy for the Duke, but his voice is a pleasure to hear. Gruberova is in her element as Gilda, and the coloratura passages made easy. Bruson never possessed a good lower register and if you can hear through his whistling 's' you'll hear a great interpreter, though not quite the best (for that it's Merrill, Milnes, Gobbi, Taddei or MacNeil).

Nonetheless, this is a great recording and has been reissued many times. If you look around you may get one for a fiver. A bargain.
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on 6 December 2014
Some of the reviews here are not for this set. Proceed with caution.
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on 13 September 2015
Five recordings of this opera come up on my screen and four of them have the same reviews?
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on 16 July 2013
As the previous review,I am lost for words that no-one else has written about this recording.
The richness of Taddei's prine life voice and its musical allure alone is enough for this reader.So add the rest of the cast!
This is a wonderful release and by far the most ideal Rigoletto on disc.
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on 10 June 2014
Fans of Merrill and Moffo will not be disappointed by this set. The young Kraus sounds fresh and ardent. Solti drives his usual verdian intensity. Not to be missed at a bargain price.
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on 15 February 2017
Fantastic !
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on 16 January 2015
Thank you very much!
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