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Shakespeare at the Opera - The Great Adaptations


Release Date: 10/16/2007 
Label:  Bravissimo Opera Library   Catalog #: 9808   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Vincenzo BelliniRichard WagnerGiuseppe VerdiOtto Nicolai,   ... 
Performer:  Antonietta PastoriIvo VincoFiorenza CossottoVittorio Tatozzi,   ... 
Conductor:  Lorin MaazelRobert HegerKarl BöhmFritz Rieger,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra RomeItalian Radio Chorus RomeAustrian Radio Symphony Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 14 
Recorded in: Mixed 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Seven complete operas based on plays by Shakespeare—great live opera recordings at budget price in one space-saving set! Exciting live recordings taped 1958–1983 feature the greatest plays ever written, enhanced by great music! The Capulets and the Montagues by Vincenzo Bellini is the familiar story of Romeo and Juliet, but derived from earlier Italian sources than Shakespeare’s play. Wagner’s second opera, Das Liebesverbot (seldom heard today) is based on Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. The sources of the rest of the operas recorded here are self-explanatory, with Verdi’s Otello having been called by some an improvement on Shakespeare!

R E V I E W S:

This live performance from RAI Rome in 1958 is a fine if
Read more literal (there are no embellishments to arias) reading of this lovely work. It is of particular interest to fans of mezzo Fiorenza Cossotto, here caught early in her career, before the voice had grown into the dramatic, Verdian instrument we're familiar with. She sings Romeo well, with a fine, boyish tone. Otherwise unknown soprano Antonietta Pastori is a lovely Giulietta, singing with small, well-focused, pretty tone. Similarly not-famous Renato Gavarini is a very good Tebaldo--rhythmically accurate and exhibiting a good-sized, tonally pleasant tenor. The two basses are fine, the chorus is a bit scrappy, and the orchestra is good enough under the young Lorin Maazel. It's interesting to note what fine singers were floating around Italy in the 1950s; today they might be stars. The performance is good without being compelling--there's little passion. This may have been a one-time-only performance, and involvement in character is not high on the singers' list of interests. It can't compare with the competition, but it's a bargain, and if you're unfamiliar with the opera and/or you're a Cossotto fan, you won't be disappointed.

-- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
reviewing I Capuleti, previously released as Opera D'Oro 1397


Das Liebesverbot (The Ban on Love) dates from 1836... Wagner based this comedy on Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, borrowing from Italian and French operatic models: Auber, Rossini, Bellini (and a bit of the German Weber)... [L]isten carefully and you can hear moments later made famous in Tannhäuser... [I]f you must own a recording of this mish-mash, it is this one. The sound is clearer than the Sawallisch despite its age (it ws taped in Vienna in 1962), the ensemble work is more accurate (it was probably a concert performance, rather than a staged one, as Sawallisch's is), and Robert Hager leads a perky performance that brings out the carnival atmosphere so important in this "light" work. The Radio Austria forces play as if they're excited about discovering the work, and their precision is admirable.

Anton Dermota, a well-respected Ottavio and Florestan, sounds stunning as Claudio, and Hilde Zadek as Isabella has an edgy soprano that is nonetheless expressive. Heinz Imdahl, as Friedrich (the German Regent of Sicily, where the opera takes place), who puts the ban on love and drink but later falls for Isabella, is ideal as the conflicted, comic villain.

-- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
reviewing Das Liebesverbot, previously released as Opera d'Oro 1454


The Falstaff recording’s “in-house” origins are suggested by the clarity with which we hear the orchestra. That is not necessarily a bad thing since there are a lot of things of genuine interest going on down in the pit as Mario Rossi conducts the San Carlo Orchestra of Naples. Fortunately, we can still hear the strong cast. The performance may lack the refinement of the studio recordings, but it has plenty of spirit. Gobbi’s Falstaff is known from other live recordings and a renowned studio effort with Herbert von Karajan. He doesn’t replicate his other Falstaffs here, suggesting that he’s tailoring his reactions to the cast at hand. Renato Capecchi is probably best known for his character roles, but he was more than just a character baritone when he got to record Rigoletto nearly 50 years ago with Gianna d’Angelo (a terrific Gilda) and Richard Tucker. Here, he’s a strong Ford and it’s a pleasure to hear him and Gobbi, two real pros, working together. Renata Tebaldi as Alice is a piece of luxury casting that doesn’t really pay off because the role doesn’t give her a chance to show off her assets, but she’s never less than good and Freni, as expected, more than fills the role of Nanetta. The Cauis (Vittorio Pandano), Bardolph (Renato Ercolani), and Pistol (Enrico Campi) provide vivid, enthusiastic support.

-- James Miller, FANFARE
reviewing Falstaff Read less

Works on This Recording

1. I Capuleti e i Montecchi by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Antonietta Pastori (Soprano), Ivo Vinco (Bass), Fiorenza Cossotto (Mezzo Soprano),
Vittorio Tatozzi (Baritone), Renato Gavarini (Tenor)
Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Rome,  Italian Radio Chorus Rome
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830; Italy 
2. Das Liebesverbot by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Anton Dermota (Tenor), Kurt Equiluz (Tenor), Christiane Sorell (Soprano),
Hilde Zadek (Soprano), Heinz Imdahl (Bass Baritone), Ludwig Welter (Bass),
Willy Friedrich (Tenor)
Conductor:  Robert Heger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bologna Teatro Comunale Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836; Germany 
3. Macbeth by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Carlo Cossutta (Tenor), Harald Pröglhöf (Baritone), Karl Ridderbusch (Bass),
Sherrill Milnes (Baritone), Gildis Flossman (Soprano), Christa Ludwig (Mezzo Soprano),
Ewald Aichberger (Tenor), Siegfried Rudolf Frese (Bass Baritone), Ljubomir Pantscheff (Bass)
Conductor:  Karl Böhm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847/1865; Italy 
4. Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor by Otto Nicolai
Performer:  Eva Maria Rogner (Soprano), Kim Borg (Bass), Hertha Töpper (Alto),
Hans Günther Nöcker (Bass Baritone), Naan Pold (Tenor), Karl Christian Kohn (Bass)
Conductor:  Fritz Rieger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1849; Berlin, Germany 
5. Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Andree Esposito (Soprano), Jean-Pierre Laffage (Baritone), Alain Vanzo (Tenor)
Conductor:  Antonio de Almeida
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nice Opera Chorus,  Nice Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; France 
6. Otello by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano), Placido Domingo (Tenor), Giuliano Cianella (Tenor),
Piero Cappuccilli (Baritone), Dano Raffanti (Tenor), Luigi Roni (Bass),
Jone Jori (Mezzo Soprano), Giuseppe Morresi (Bass Baritone), Orazio Mori (Bass)
Conductor:  Carlos Kleiber
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Italy 
7. Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Enrico Campi (Bass), Renato Ercolani (Tenor), Fernanda Cadoni (Mezzo Soprano),
Tito Gobbi (Baritone), Renata Tebaldi (Soprano), Fedora Barbieri (Mezzo Soprano),
Vittorio Pandano (Tenor), Mirella Freni (Soprano), Renato Capecchi (Baritone),
Agostino Lazzari (Tenor)
Conductor:  Lorin Maazel,  Mario Rossi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Naples Teatro San Carlo Chorus,  Naples Teatro San Carlo Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Bargain price set of Classic Editions July 5, 2014 By richard b. (Salem, CT) See All My Reviews "The only thing lacking is the libretto, a small price to pay for the small price to pay. All libretto's are online... Would recommend... Thanks" Report Abuse
 Another great box set for opera collectors! September 11, 2013 By P. Ledesma (Wellington, KS) See All My Reviews "I will NOT claim to be the expert on opera that the professional reviewers are, but I know what I like! Each of these operas has wonderful performers and spectacular moments at a crazy discount price! Better booklet content would have been appreciated, but overall I was really pleased with this box set! I liked the Bellini even though I'd never heard of it before. I rarely enjoy first time hearings of ANYTHING operatic, and Maazel and company turned in quite a performance. The story of Das Livesverbot's original failures was sad, because in my first hearing of this music I could see a great transformation taking place as Wagner was finely tooling his future style and shedding the dominant Italian structures that didn't really fit his strengths. It was still a very fine recording with strong capable artists. The Macbeth was thrilling for me! Bohm and Vienna were outstanding, and when you can get Milnes, Ludwig and Ridderbusch together, it will be a guaranteed top notch production! I was particularly moved by UNA MACCHIA...in the final act! Ludwig is in her prime and at her best! It set up the final 3 selections so that the performance would ride a wave of soaring musical splendor all the way to the final curtain! The Nicolai had way too much spoken dialogue, which explains why this work isn't performed more frequently. That's a shame because it was as strong of a performance as anything else in the box set in every other area! I have never heard of any of these performers before, but I will be looking for them in the future! The Gounod was quite good, but it didn't shine like the Verdi offerings did, and that is probably due to the loaded casts that Verdi operas seem to draw as a rule. Kleiber was a master in his direction of Othello as was Freni as Desdemona. She was a good Nannetta in Fallstaff too, but I had to disagree with the reviewer's implication that Tebaldi was unspectacular, because I thought she was simply marvelous! My favorite moment was during Fenton's aria DAL LABBRO IL CANTO. Here, Lazzari is stupendous, in my opinion. THIS IS A VERY FINE SET!" Report Abuse
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