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Subject: Re: DON CARLO Recordings
From: Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 7 Aug 2017 17:19:47 -0700

text/plain (106 lines)


For me, its somewhat of a draw.  Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
Santini as you have said is not the most exciting of conductors but he is
at least well routined.  Obviously, Christoff is fresher, but still in fine
voice.  I always found the voice craggy and unlovely, but he was a great
singer, a noble singer and he filled everything he did with pathos and
distiiction.  Nicolai has her points, she was one of the major
mezzo-soprano's active in Italy.  Its a big slavic voice.  Fifty at the
time of this recording, she obviously has about twenty years on Cossotto
who is in her youthful prime.  Labo is far more attractive of voice than
Filippeschi.  Its a major voice.  The problem with Labo and the reason he
did not have the big career his talent deserved was that he had a six foot
tall voice in a five foot four inch body.  He was pint sized on stage, but
the voice was big and burnished.  Gobbi we all know is a great singer, but
Bastianini had the voice.  Neri on the earlier set had a unique black
voice.  Vinco is OK but not in that league.  Five act over four act?  Take
your preference.  I know today everyone prefers five act in French.  I grew
up on four act in Italian and it remains my preference although I speak
French.  As for Stella, she can be a cipher on recordings.  Just look at
the difference between her live Maddalena with Del Monaco and the live
Fanciulla with Limarilli.  She is magnificent and alive on both.  On
recordings, the admittedly beautiful voice is dead, almost without
profile.  I think Stella is one of those singers who needs an audience.
Stella is not alone in this.  If you think Nilsson is cold and glassy
that's because you only know the recordings, you didn't hear her live.

My favorite recordings of Don Carlo remain the 4 Act Cetra with Caniglia,
Stignani, Picchi, Silveri, Neri and Rossi-Lemeni under Previtali and the 5
Act Decca Solti set with Tebaldi, Bumbry, Bergonzi, Merrill & Ghiaurov.  I
wish someone had made a DC with Siepi, Correlli and Merrill but they
didn't.  There is that great Met broadcast from April  22, 1972 with
Caballe (the one where she holds the final note of the opera for aboutfive
minutes) , Bumbry, Corelli, Milnes and Siepi.


On Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 4:06 PM, Vesna Danilovic <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> On Sat, Aug 5, 2017 at 7:12 PM, William Fiorelli <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
> > I have an number of DON CARLO CDs in my collection and recently read
> > through a discography.  I am not familiar with the following two
> recordings
> > and am interested in your opinions.  Thanks!BILL
> > DON CARLO ( 5 ACT version)  Santini, Labo, Christoff, Stella, Cossotto,
> > Bastianini, Vinco, 1961
> > DON CARLO ( 4 ACT version) Santini, Filippeschi, Christoff, Stella,
> > Nicolai, Gobbi, Neri, 1954
> At first I was surprised that nobody replied onlist to this query because
> there are quite a few DON CARLO aficionados here, but then this also shows
> that there are probably no champions of these two sets. Both are early
> studios and one would think they would be more than just souvenirs from the
> time when this opera was not much recorded. I think that Santini's boring
> conducting on both sets and a variable cast make them both almost, but not
> entirely, forgettable for some listeners.
> That said, I heard only the later of these two recordings because it was
> the only studio recording of Bastianini's Posa, whose rich voice comes
> through with the same brilliance as on his great live performances, and
> that alone makes this set worthwhile to get. I would also add Christoff's
> imposing King Philip (to my ears even better than on the legendary '58 live
> from ROH) and one of the better Dona Carlos on record, Flaviano Labo. I am
> not as familiar with Labo but he strikes me as a true spinto tenor and I am
> frankly mystified why he didn't have a major career. I hope Stella did
> better on the first set because here you can hear some lovely singing but
> devoid of any interpretive insight (by contrast, she is a wonderful
> Maddalena in the film version of ANDREA CHENIER with Del Monaco). The main
> liability is Santini whose routine approach to the score often borders on
> boredom but this is Verdi's masterpiece that is difficult to destroy. While
> this is I believe the first studio to include the Fontainebleau scene (in
> Italian) but then Santini makes many cuts elsewhere. So, if you love this
> opera, I think you would enjoy the great Bastianini as Posa as well as
> Labo's Don Carlo and Christoff's Phillip.
> Just my two cents. Vesna
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