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Subject: Re: Tebaldi Aida under Karajan
From: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 26 Sep 2016 09:25:08 -0700

text/plain (31 lines)

Different strokes for different folks.  The recorded sound has always been spectacular on whatever system I’ve had to play it on.  I first bought it in the late 1960’s on Ampex 4-track open reel tape and the sheer dynamic range and sense of depth and space were incredible.

I never heard anything puny about Simionato as reproduced here and being able to really hear how she and  Tebaldi soar over the massed chorus and orchestra, in a way that’s very different from recordings that put the singers up close, is a great thrill.  

I think the orchestra is so important in this work that I’d have a hard time recommending as first choice a recording that doesn’t have first rate stereo sound.  While the Rome Opera Orchestra is no match for the Vienna Philharmonic, Solti does get much better playing and precision out of them than most conductors.

In overall approach, probably the closest thing to getting Toscanini with (somewhat) better singers is the commercial Abbado set, although Ricciarelli’s unsteadiness is a weak spot.  To me, though, even worn and frayed Obraztsova is better than Eva Gustavson.  But the framework Abbado provides reminds me a great deal of Toscanini.  There’s also, from about a decade earlier, the live Abbado (in good stereo) from the Scala tour in Munich which has an Aida (Arroyo) whose voice is more suitable, if you can put up with her constant lagging behind the beat.

Max Paley

> On Sep 25, 2016, at 12:39 PM, Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I've long had mixed feelings about this particular Aida recording, for what I think are valid reasons. The real bone of contention for me is the manner in which it was recorded. I understand what John Culshaw was aiming for, and of course it is natural that the orchestra be placed in front of the singers. All well and good. However, when a voice like Simionato's comes off sounding like Cherubino, something is definitely wrong. Amneris was one of her greatest roles, and there are many live recordings which substantiate that (not only that early Cetra recording either). Carlo Berganzi produces a beautiful lyrical tone, but in no way does he sound like Radames. His singing is beautiful and refined, however, and he certainly fits well into Von Karajan's conception of the opera. I don't find Tebaldi as much of a problem as I used to in this recording, though she sounds like Mimi instead of Aida. That she experiences difficulties with the top C in "O Patria Mia" is not surprising. Her pitch sags badly, and she relinquishes the note pretty quickly. Her high B flats in the Tomb Scene are hardly any better. Despite the number of times she performed it, I wonder whether Tebaldi's voice was really intended for this role to begin with, though her opulent singing in the middle register is always beautiful and creamy. 
> What I DO admire this recording tremendously for is the way Von Karajan's orchestra plays the orchestral accompaniment. The strings and brass are incredible. If I were left to choose only one recording of this opera, it would have to be the Milanov/Bjoerling/Barbieri version on RCA, (now newly remastered). And probably the Price/Vickers/Gorr under Solti. 
> ----- Original Message -----

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