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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Maria Callas made this recording of La Gioconda, one of her signature roles, relatively late in her career after her vocal problems had begun, but this performance captures her at her best. She was especially pleased with her performance and wrote, "It's all there, for anyone who...wishes to know what I was all about." It is indeed all there -- the passion, the penetrating characterization, the security and technical control, the vocal sheen and power. Although the cast contains some minor singers as well as international stars, the principals are in excellent form and make this a consistently fine account of the opera. Piero Cappuccilli is in powerful voice, making Barnaba genuinely menacing. Fiorenza Cossotto's pure-voiced Laura
is a fitting foil to Callas. Tenor Pier Miranda Ferraro is not a household name, but he brings Enzo to life with a strong, secure voice, and if his "Cielo e mar" is not the most thrilling ever recorded, it's entirely respectable and full of passion. Antonino Votto leads the Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala in a taut and dramatically urgent reading of Ponchielli's richly varied score, and they sing and play with full, robust tone. The recorded sound is clean, spacious, and well-balanced.
-- Stephen Eddins, AllMusic.com Read less
Works on This Recording
La Gioconda by Amilcare Ponchielli
Fiorenza Cossotto (Mezzo Soprano),
Irene Companeez (Alto),
Pier Miranda Ferraro (Tenor),
Ivo Vinco (Bass),
Leonardo Monreale (Bass),
Carlo Forti (Bass),
Renato Ercolani (Tenor),
Aldo Biffi (Baritone),
Maria Callas (Soprano),
Bonaldo Giaiotti (Bass),
Piero Cappuccilli (Baritone)
Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,
Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Written: 1876; Italy
Venue: Teatro Alla Scala, Milan, Italy
Length: 166 Minutes 10 Secs.
Notes: Teatro Alla Scala, Milan, Italy (09/04/1959 - 09/11/1959)
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Fantastic Performance January 27, 2014
By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews
"Amilcare Ponchielli's great tragic opera requires for the role of La Gioconda a soprano blessed with the ability to project and shift between a number of competing emotions- romantic enfatuation, anger, bitterness, revenge, compassion, despair, and finally abject fatalism. In this outstanding La Scala Milan recording from 1959, Maria Callas positively shines as she demonstrates all of the above traits in what must be considered one of her definitive, supreme roles. What a lovely, sensational performance this recording is, reflecting the classic virtues of great Italian opera in the highest standards of excellence. In addition to Callas' breathtaking singing, the listener is likely to be similarly astounded at the emotionally compelling work of Fiorenza Cossoto as Laura, Ivo Vinco as Duke Alvise, Pier Miranda Ferraro as Enzo Grimaldo, and Piero Cappucilli as the villainous Barnaba. The story line of La Gioconda is highly complex in several respects- a consistently shifting emotional landscape, role reversals and conversions as heroes take on the attributes of villains and vice versa, the psychologically powerful merging of confrontation and compassion/mercy, all building to what the Italians seem to crave in their operas- cataclysmic, definitive resolution, be it joyous or tragic- in this case it is tragic. The sound of this EMI recording is just great, especially considering its 50 plus years. With the lineup of great singers noted above, the excellent Chorus and Orchestra of the La Scala Theater under Antonino Votto's inspired conducting all make this recording one for the ages. Don't miss this opportunity to experience a magnificent interpretation of Ponchielli's one great work, seen by some critics as the bridge between the Rossini/Donizetti era and the verismo phase of Italian opera, embodied in the latter half of Verdi's great career and of course Puccini. In short, Maria Callas' La Gioconda belongs in the collection of any serious opera fan worthy of the name. Highest recommendation!"