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Subject: Re: otello recordings
From: "Wolman, Kenneth" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Wolman, Kenneth
Date:Thu, 31 May 2001 09:23:45 -0400

text/plain (27 lines)

> The Lyric Opera News...current issue touts a number of versions of Otello
> but, surprisingly, totally overlooks any versions with Mario del Monaco!
> For me, del Monaco is THE definitive Otello of the post war years with
> the only real competition coming from Jon Vickers whose approach is a
> totally different one. (OK, Ramon Vinay deserves some credit too). With
> all the great MDM Otellos available I can't understand why he was
> ignored. There are the two commercial releases (w/Tebaldi & Protti) as
> well as a number of live performances - including the superb 1959 one
> with Tucci & Gobbi - a thrilling recording.
> Am I wrong here or is the reviewer missing something?

The boat, perhaps.  There are people, I suppose, who are simply indelible Del Monaco haters.  I am not a great Del Monaco fan myself...much of what I've heard on his recordings (I never saw him in person) was marred by bellowing, unnecessary sobs, and--on an abridged Samson with Rise Stevens--an appalling swoop into the B-flat on "Je t'aime" at the end of "Mon coeur."  But some people are born to play certain roles, and I keep a mental image of Verdi in front of the piano writing down "Ora per sempre addio" and murmuring "Some day there will be a tenor named Mario del Monaco who will sing this music like no one else."  I own vinyl of the first Otello with Tebaldi and Protti, the one Erede conducted, and it's wonderful.  While I've not heard all the live performances that have been legitimized since the advent of the CD, I HAVE heard what for me is the best of the best--the 1958 broadcast Del Monaco did with De Los Angeles and Warren.  I've heard other great (yeah, you can ar!
gue with my choices) tenors do the role...Domingo, Vickers,McCracken, Cossutta (okay, he was just real good)...but none of them gets inside the musical potential the way Del Monaco does at critical points.  During the Esultate he sounds like he swallowed a trombone--it's the most thrilling rendition I've ever heard, and he's the only tenor I've ever ever seen or heard who got bravos for it.  Yet he could throttle down and express gentleness and pain.

I should add that I also heard him rise to Otello heights on a recording of a 1953 Maggio Musicale Fiorentino performance of Forza (Mitropoulos is the conductor) with Tebaldi and Protti.  It's perfectly unbelievable.

Omit him?  Maybe someone closer to the Chicago music scene can comment on what goes on in and around the Lyric, but this seems perverse in the extreme.


Kenneth Wolman
Merrill Lynch/DCSS
570 Washington Street
New York, N.Y. 10014
(212) 647-2496

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