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Subject: Caballe's Lucia
From: Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 29 Dec 2016 16:21:38 -0500
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For years and years, I shunned this Phillips recording of Caballe's Lucia
because I felt that it could not possibly be good.  I then learned the the
"conventional" Lucia we always heard was not the way Donizetti had written
it, and that tradition had dictated that it be at point that it be sung in a
key where it was possible for the soprano to interpolate those top E flats.
 And of course, this was the way we always heard it.  Then I heard an
interview with Maria Callas, in which she stated that it was her belief that
Lucia was actually a "dramatic soprano" role that should be sung with very
dark colors.  She said that she regretted that she never sang the original
version because she was afraid that the public would never have accepted it.
 Whether she was right or wrong is a moot point.
      As it turns out, I had a birthday years ago, and one of my well
meaning friends gifted me with the Caballe set.  As soon as I saw it, I
thought, "Well, THIS is going to be exchanged as soon as I get to the
store".  But I felt curious about it, and figured, "Oh, what the hell?" and
I opened it and played it.
      I ended up liking it a lot more than I would have dared anticipate. 
While there are a few points where Caballe's uppermost notes are metallic
and almost beyond herf endurance, I found much of the reading quite
beautiful.  The opera took on a dark and brooding quality that I only found
on the 1959 Callas recording (where Callas DOES attempt the top E flats in
the Mad Scene, but with questionable results.
Still, she sounds very, very dark.
      I think that Caballe' took a huge risk in making this recording, since
what she was presenting a Lucia in a version that had never been heard
before.  While the top E flats are abjured, there are certain cadenzas she
executes that are not heard elsewhere ---------------- and the recording
incorporates none of the traditional cuts.  It opens out the two scenes that
were heretofore cut from all the recordings (except for the Sills and
Sutherland versions).
      I'm not suggesting that Caballe should have tried this out on the
stage, but there's something about her singing on this recording that I find
extremely attractive and sometimes even beautiful.  This is a Lucia
recording that should be placed "on the side" and listened to as a point of
reference as to what Donizetti might have originally had in mind.
      Only my opinion.

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