Notes and Editorial Reviews
Riccardo Muti, cond; Mirella Freni (
); Plácido Domingo (
); Gianfranco Manganotti (
); Renato Bruson (
); Nicolai Ghiaurov (
); Alfredo Giacomotti (
); Jolanda Michieli (
); La Scala, Milan O & Ch
EMI 81884 (2 CDs: 118:31
Text and Translation) Live: Milan 12/1982
To my ears there are two main contenders for a midprice stereo recording of
. This present set is one and the other features Joan Sutherland in partnership with Luciano Pavarotti and conducted by Richard Bonynge on Decca. Let me say at the outset that the honors are fairly evenly distributed between both sets and there is no obvious front runner. Personal preferences for individual singers or conductors could very much shape your choice between them.
Recorded live at La Scala, Milan, Riccardo Muti’s account can be urgent and full bodied, if a little opaque on instrumental detail as regards the orchestral sound in the recording. Rarely is your attention overly diverted from the high standard of playing by stage noise, although some is noticeable. Bonynge’s Welsh National Opera forces, though, are just as committed, being heard best in the work’s big moments like the finale of act II. Bonynge secures a greater variety of tonal color from his orchestra and his chorus is the more musical in their singing.
Mirella Freni’s Elvira is a convincing and dramatically involving reading of the role. If it is not quite as creamy and beautiful as Sutherland’s studio recorded alternative, this can largely be put down to having to push the voice throughout a live performance in a large venue. The top of Sutherland’s voice loses ideal focus at times, and in group exchanges she is often not favored by the recording balance. Fewer such issues affect EMI’s recording.
The various merits of Pavarotti and Domingo come to the fore once again in deciding between sets. Both have much to reward listening. On balance, Pavarotti gives a reading with greater subtlety and variety of tone, but Domingo is not far behind on those scores. Another rivalry between Leo Nucci for Bonynge and Renato Bruson in the role of Don Carlo sees the honors fall in Bruson’s favor, as Nucci tends to forte or nasal vocal production that wears on repeated listening. Ghiaurov’s De Silva is more idiomatic than that of Paata Burchuladze. The smaller roles are all more than adequately sung.
FANFARE: Evan Dickerson
Works on This Recording
Ernani by Giuseppe Verdi
Placido Domingo (Tenor),
Mirella Freni (Soprano),
Renato Bruson (Baritone),
Jolanda Michieli (Soprano),
Nicolai Ghiaurov (Bass),
Gianfranco Manganotti (Tenor),
Alfredo Giacomotti (Bass)
Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,
Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Written: 1844; Italy
Date of Recording: 12/07/1982
Venue: Live Teatro Alla Scala, Milan, Italy
Length: 128 Minutes 31 Secs.
Ernani, Act 1: Mercè, dilette amici .....Come rugiada al cespite
Ernani, Act 1: Dell 'esiglio nel dolore .... O tu che l'alma adora
Ernani, Act I: Surta è la notte
Ernani, Act I: Ernani! Ernani, involami
Ernani, Act I: Tutto sprezzo che d'Ernani
Ernani, Act I: Qui mi trasse amor possente
Ernani, Act I: Da quel dì che t'ho veduta
Ernani, Act I: Tu se', Ernani!
Ernani, Act I: Che mai vegg'io! ... Infelice! E tuo credevi
Ernani, Act I: Vedi come il buon vegliardo
Ernani, Act II: Esultiamo
Ernani, Act II: Oro, Quant'oro
Ernani, Act II: Ah, morir
Ernani, Act II: No, vendetta più tremenda
Ernani, Act II: Cugino, a che munito
Ernani, Act II: Lo vedremo, veglio audace
Ernani, Act II: Vieni meco, sol di rose
Ernani, Act II: A te, scegli, seguimi!
Ernani, Act III: Preludio .... È questo il loco
Ernani, Act III: Gran Dio!
Ernani, Act III: Oh, de' verd'anni miei
Ernani, Act III: Un patto! .... Si ridesti
Ernani, Act III: O sommo Carlo
Ernani, Act IV: Oh, come felici
Ernani, Act IV: Tutto ora tace intorno
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