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Giuseppe Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera

A review from Gramophone, May 1994

The most cogent reason for acquiring this set is Pavarotti's Riccardo, a superior reading to that on his later performance with Solti and catching him at the very height of his powers. It is a portrait to match that of Bergonzi for Leinsdorf and, even further back, Bjorling in the historic Metropolitan/Panizza performance-high praise indeed. Nobody else is in the same class, though Milnes is a sound, if conventional, Renato. Tebaldi is caught here late in her career in a role she doesn't appear to have sung on stage. The grand spinto manner is still there, of course, and that is worth much-especially in the Prayer, where she isn't under pressure-but the voice itself is no longer quite what it was and betrays signs of wear. Still, she and Pavarotti generate a deal of passion and squillo excitement in the love duet. Resnik is also past her prime and an uncomfortable Ulrica.

Bartoletti conducts a safe, four-square reading, one that lacks the brio and theatrical excitement of Muti's, the most recommendable of mid-price, indeed, perhaps any performances bar the historic ones, headed by the Panizza and Callas/Votto (though the latter should now be made available at less than full price). The Decca sounds studio-bound with much added reverberation fashionable then in Decca circles.

AB

 

 

  Tilaa

Amelia: Renata Tebaldi
Riccardo: Luciano Pavarottii
Renato: Sherrill Milnes
Oscar: Helen Donath
Ulrica: Regina Resnik
Sam: Leonardo Monreale
Tom: Nicolai Christov
Silvano: Jose van Dam
Judge: Pier Francesco Poli
Servant: Mario Alessandrini

Chorus and Orchestra of
the Santa Cecilia Academy, Rome
Bruno Bartoletti

Decca 440 042-2 or
460 762-2 (Double Decca)

 

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