Notes and Editorial Reviews
Produced in March 1842, Nabucco was Verdi’s first triumph with the public and (most) critics, establishing him as a great composer. The audience at the premiere went mad with enthusiasm and demanded an encore of the chorus “Va, pensiero.” “Va, pensiero” was musically beautiful, but as an expression of the longing of the Hebrew slaves for freedom it also struck a powerful political chord. Soon it was being sung in the streets, and many years later was reverently hymned at Verdi’s public funeral. For much of the twentieth century Nabucco was neglected as an immature early work by Verdi, but nowadays has taken its place again with great success as a repertory piece. Grand Tier presents the most popular titles from the budget Opera d’Oro
catalogue at mid-price with complete newly translated librettos, stimulating essays by eminent music writers, and deluxe packaging with striking artwork commissioned from Rafal Olbinski. Live performance, Milan, 1966.
R E V I E W:
"Suliotis's is a classic case of “Too much, too soon“ in the sense of a singer taking on a role for which (s)he lacks either the vocal technique, maturity or both. Abigaille is undoubtedly the most difficult and demanding soprano lead in the Verdi canon, but one sure to raise an audience to fever pitch if done at all well, so one can certainly not blame any soprano who thinks she can handle it for wanting to do so. But for Suliotis at twenty-three, its assumption bespeaks a dangerous combination of unwarranted bravery and lack of discipline. She is not the only soprano to have come to grief attempting it. Parutto, Cerquetti, Rysanek, and Bumbry come most immediately to mind but there are others including, perhaps, Giuseppina Strepponi, who created the role. Suliotis, during her all-too-brief career, was a highly committed performer, but not, as it turns out, a particularly prudent one and was soon sung out. (A colleague in whose presence 1 first heard her London complete of this work on OSA 1382 opposite Gobbi gasped during one of its more brilliant moments, “[Expletive deleted]! She's leaving half her vocal chords in those grooves.“)
She obviously had enough left over for the performance at hand which preserves the opening night of the 1966-67 La Scala season, and it is, if anything, even more exciting: not surprising since the singer who does not so respond to an appreciative live audience is rare indeed. Venom galore can be discerned in her bright, gleaming voice in the recitative which introduces her second-act scena, and she takes the two-octave downward leap at its end firmly in stride, but she is also able to command a sweet lyricism for the andante section (“Anch'io dischiuso un giorno“). The performing edition accords her but one verse of the cabaletta which follows the intervening dialog with Bel's High Priest, but she does interpolate a thrillingly ringing high C at its conclusion.
She gets excellent support from her colleagues both on- and off-stage. Gavazzeni is at least the equal of Gardelli, who conducts the London set, in molding the score to the specifications of vigor and vulgarity which are the hallmarks of the composer's earliest works, and knows how to build the second-act finale to a rousing climax. Guelfi's Babylonian king is not the towering impersonation Gobbi gives us (he lacks the latter's sense of textual nuance, for one), but his voice is, to my mind, more beautiful, has the right heft and quality, and he uses it well. Ghiaurov, here captured in his youthful prime, is a most impressive Zaccaria. Raimondi, if not quite Domingo's match on DG's recording with Dimitrova and Cappuccini under Sinopoli, is one of the most musical and mellifluous Ismaeles I have ever heard, and Lane does what is asked of her well enough in the equally smallish role of Fenena. Giovanni Foiani is a better-than-average High Priest of Bel, and the remaining comprimarii are commendable."
FANFARE: Anthony Coggi [5/1989]
Reviewing earlier release of this recording, Nuova Era 2222] Read less
Works on This Recording
Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi
Mirella Fiorentini (Mezzo Soprano),
Elena Suliotis (Soprano),
Nicolai Ghiaurov (Bass),
Gianni Raimondi (Tenor),
Gloria Lane (Mezzo Soprano),
Giovanni Foiani (Bass),
Piero de Palma (Tenor),
Giangiacomo Guelfi (Baritone)
Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,
Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Written: 1842; Italy
Date of Recording: 12/07/1966
Venue: Live Milan, Italy
Length: 120 Minutes 21 Secs.
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