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Subject: Three more recordings from our library
From: Jack Hall <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jack Hall <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 30 Oct 1998 08:13:44 -0600
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I listened to some selections from three more recordings I've been
cataloging for our Music Library:
2 recordings of Bellini's La Straniera:

        Carnegie Hall, March 26, 1969
        Montserrat Caballe, Amadeo Zambon, tenor
        Anton Guadagno, conductor
        Legato LCD-134-2

        Teatro Massimo di Palermo, Dec. 10, 1968
        Renata Scotto, Renato Cioni, tenor
        Nino Sanzogno, conductor
        Melodram  MEL 27039

It's not easy to choose between these two on the basis of the sopranos,
who turn in such different performances. Caballe is, of course, very
beautiful in voice and fluid in technique, but sometimes succumbs to
her typical wooziness of interpretation. She's very good in the big final
aria, however, which is a good show-stopper. Scotto is much more dramatic,
but voice doesn't fit the usual ideas of "bel" canto. The role (Alaide,
real name Agnese--don't ask) is a very dramatic one, much more so than Amina
in Sonnambula or Elvira in Puritani, though, of course, not yet so great a
role as Norma. The tenors are rather negligivle. Cioni, on the Scotto,
sounds quite unpleasant and grating (he's on the Sutherland London/Decca
Lucia and Rigoletto). Zambon, on the Caballe, is more pleasant-sounding,
but the voice doesn't bear up under any volume above mezzoforte.
The plot is a wild, sometimes hilarious, sort of medieval legend, but actually
seemed to work quite well to me in creating effeftive operatic characters.
Alaide, exiled from her royal husband, independently forges her own
hermit-like identity, remains loyal to the husband in the face of being
courted by the tenor, and becomes a truly tragic heroine--a good role.

The other recording I took home was the DGG of Rossini's Stabat Mater,
conducted by Myung-Whun Chung, with the Vienna Philharmonic and the
Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor. The soloists are Luba
Orgonasova, Cecilia Bartoli, Raul Gimenez, and Roberto Scandiuzzi.
The work as a whole is not of much interest to me, but years ago I fell
in love with the duet for the two sopranos: Quis es homo. It's a really
fun coloratura number, for those of you who don't know it. My LP recording
was with the Sankt-Hedwigs Chor (a favorite body of mine in the 60s--where
are their recordings on CD?), with Maria Stader and Marianna Radev in the
duet. I thought Orgonasova and Bartoli absolutely sang the pants off the
duet, and am now considering buying it just for that item. What I've heard
of Orgonasova has really impressed me (also the Sonnambula on Naxos), but
she doesn't seem to have become a big star yet (at least on this side of
the Atlantic). It's a beautiful soprano voice with dramatic capabilities
and good coloratura technique. She was supposed to be Houston's Lucia several
years ago, but canceled, I think. On the recording, Bartoli's smallness of
voice isn't so noticeable (and yet it is), but she, like Orgonasova, sings
with great gusto and excellent coloratura, as expected. The tenor aria
is also famous (Cujus animam), but I felt Gimenez wasn't vocally adequate
for it. His is a light, lyric coloratura voice, and he's very good on
the same Naxos Sonnambula.

Jack Hall  University of Houston Libraries  [log in to unmask]

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