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Grand Tier - Puccini: La Fanciulla Del West / Votto, Corelli, Gobbi, Frazzoni

Release Date: 04/10/2007 
Label:  Opera D'oro   Catalog #: 7036   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Carlo FortiFranco CorelliGiuseppe MorresiGigliola Frazzoni,   ... 
Conductor:  Antonino Votto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala OrchestraMilan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 2 Hours 12 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

I now have this performance on three different labels, so maybe it’s time to stop the replication and slim down. I reviewed the Myto release of this 1956 La Scala performance in Fanfare 29:6 and now here it is on Opera d’Oro’s upscale label, complete with libretto (in, I am happy to say, idiomatic English/Italian) and annotation. There are some contretemps to mention: Nicola Zaccaria, the Jake Wallace, jumps his cue at the beginning; Corelli gets lost at the end of “Or san sei mesi” and races ahead of Votto (and gets applauded for it); Frazzoni, an interesting and dead game soprano, is severely stretched by the second act’s vocal heroics; the opening of act II’s Johnson/Minnie love duet contains a bad tape splice; there is an edge of fuzzy Read more distortion in loud passages. Since these last two faults are present on the Standing Room Only and Myto issues, I infer that they are part of the original source.

As a performance, per se, this recording is strictly for fans of Corelli, a vocally resplendent, if somewhat sloppy, Johnson, and for fans of Gobbi, a snarling, menacing Jack Rance—disappointingly monochromatic to me (one reviewer describes him as “singing through clenched teeth”). Frazzoni’s willingness to give her all is admirable, in a way, and, while much of Minnie’s music is “conversational” enough that someone who doesn’t possess a large voice can sing it, the second act in particular has some heroic moments that stretch a smaller sized voice too far for comfort. Paradoxically, the less I enjoy her, the more I admire her determination. The supporting cast is strong.

Still, there are three studio recordings that are easily superior to this one—those of Capuana (Tebaldi, Del Monaco, MacNeil), Mata?i? (Nilsson, Gibin, Mongelli); and Mehta (Neblett, Domingo, Milnes). I have a particular weakness for the Mata?i?. If, for some reason (presumably Corelli or Gobbi), you must have this performance, you’ll have to weigh Opera d’Oro’s attractive packaging and excellent libretto against Myto’s smaller, two-fer jewel box and the bonus of Corelli and Giangiacomo Guelfi banging out excerpts from La forza del destino with a stentorian power that almost seems to be extinct (only temporarily, I hope). I’m keeping them both for the libretto and the Forza excerpts. Two copies of a performance I don’t especially like—that’s how one gets a big collection.

-- James Miller, Fanfare [9/2007]
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Works on This Recording

La Fanciulla del West by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Carlo Forti (Bass), Franco Corelli (Tenor), Giuseppe Morresi (Bass Baritone),
Gigliola Frazzoni (Soprano), Pier Luigi Latinucci (Bass), Enzo Sordello (Baritone),
Ugo Novelli (Bass), Athos Cesarini (Tenor), Franco Ricciardi (Tenor),
Michele Cazzato (Baritone), Tito Gobbi (Baritone), Gino Del Signore (Tenor),
Vittorio Tatozzi (Baritone), Nicola Zaccaria (Bass), Eraldo Coda (Bass),
Angelo Mercuriali (Tenor), Maria Amadini (Mezzo Soprano), Erminio Benatti (Bass)
Conductor:  Antonino Votto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1910; Italy 
Date of Recording: 04/04/1956 
Venue:  Live  Milan, Italy 
Length: 132 Minutes 10 Secs. 
Language: Italian 

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