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Subject: Re: LOC and Boris Christoff (was STRIKE!!!)
From: Russ Geschke <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Russ Geschke <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 13 Oct 2018 19:30:23 -0500
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The 1960 Lyric Don Carlo is at least available on CD.  I agree completely 
with your view of the relative merits of Rossi-Lemeni, Christoff and 
Ghiaurov.  Rossi-Lemeni sounds half-way good in the Norma excerpts from 
Buenos Aires Teatro 1949, but then it's downhill.  But the main reason for 
this post is to make a public suggestion that you write your memoirs (which 
would be informed memoirs) of Lyric's early glorious years.  That is 
something that I've long thought would be invaluable.  Really.  At least 
consider it.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "kurt youngmann" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, October 13, 2018 4:19 PM
Subject: Re: LOC and Boris Christoff (was STRIKE!!!)


> On Oct 13, 2018, at 3:02 PM, Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> From 1957 when he debuted at the Lyric in Don Carlo, he appeared
> in Boris Godunov, again as Philip, Boito's Mefistofele. Guardiano,
> Don Basilio, Prince Igor (both roles), Colline, Zaccaria, and an encore
> of Basilio. I may have left something out. I think he last appeared in
> 1963.

He also sang Don Pizarro, the only role I didn’t find him definitive in. 
(Hotter was a tough act to follow)!

His Clock Tower scene in Boris left me practically gasping for breath! I’ll 
never forget that at one point he approached the dining table, which had 
been set for dinner, and violently yanked the tablecloth off, strewing 
dishes all across the stage.

His two runs as Philip II were matchless. Too bad he was never paired with 
the Inquisitor of Giulio Neri (as on the studio recording).

Colline was the ultimate in luxury casting.

I thought his Mefistofele was unbeatable. Another “too bad”: on his studio 
recording of the opera, the Helen of Troy scene was omitted since EMI didn’t 
see fit to cough up the money for the extra LP it would have required.

I always found it ironic that Claudia Cassidy, the Chicago Tribune’s feared 
but overrated and self-indulgent critic, preferred the all-but-voiceless 
Nicola Rossi-Lemeni over Christoff. He was a fine enough actor (although a 
bit flamboyant / over-the-top) but he had no low register whatsoever. I’ve 
remarked before that in his Puritani “Suona la tromba" duet with Bastianini, 
the baritone had far better low notes. For those who have the Rossi-Lemeni 
recorded performances of Philip II and Baron Ochs[!] you can hear that his 
lowest notes aren’t even audible - probably because they were non-existent.

In later days we were blessed with some outstanding performances by Samuel 
Ramey. Siepi, sad to say, sang only Basilio here and that was late in his 
career. For some unknown reason I missed it.

Many Opera L folk are Ghiaurov fans. He sang a number of roles here to great 
acclaim but I simply didn’t care for his voice and he certainly was no match 
for Christoff dramatically. His final Chicago role was Colline and it was a 
vocal embarrassment; he was well past his prime. I said at the time that it 
would have been smarter to have cast him as Benoit / Alcindoro. But Mirella 
Freni (Mrs. Ghiaurov) sang Mimi and obviously insisted on having him as 
Colline.

***

Regarding David Kubiak’s comment that LOC’s casting has been spotty since 
the 50s, I suggest that they had some fine casts well into the 60s. There 
were quite a few good excellent casts through the Krainik years as well. 
Alas, many performances that could otherwise have been considered world 
class were marred by Bartoletti’s execrable conducting.

Kurt Youngmann

"Of God, the Devil and Darwin, we have really good scientific evidence for 
the existence of only Darwin." - Niall Shanks


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