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Prima Voce - Cesare Siepi


Release Date: 11/13/2007 
Label:  Nimbus   Catalog #: 7942   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Giuseppe VerdiArrigo BoitoAmilcare PonchielliVincenzo Bellini,   ... 
Performer:  Cesare Siepi
Conductor:  Arturo BasileAlfredo Simonetto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mixed 
Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

There have been few better basses around during the last sixty years and hearing Cesare Siepi in his mature youth is a treat indeed.

Born in Milan in 1923 and largely self-taught Cesare Siepi started his operatic career extremely early, singing Sparafucile in Rigoletto in 1941. As an opponent of the fascist regime he had to flee his country. He spent the war years in Switzerland but immediately after the war he returned and quickly established himself at La Fenice and La Scala. In 1950 Rudolf Bing brought him to the Metropolitan Opera. His debut there was as Philip II in Don Carlo and he also sang Mephistofele in Faust that first season. A live recording from that year, with Jussi Björling as Faust, was released
Read more on Naxos a couple of years ago (review). He remained at the MET until 1974 but continued singing elsewhere for another decade. I remember hearing him in a broadcast recital well into the 1980s with the glorious voice still in good shape.

The recordings on this well-filled disc are all from his earliest years and they must have been sensational when they appeared. What we hear is apparently no beginner but an authoritative worldclass mastersinger with deep insight and perfect vocal control. If there is anything at all that might reveal his age – the earliest sides (tr. 3-5) are from July 1947 when he was 24 – it is a slight unsteadiness on the lowest notes. A couple of years later his tone was rock-steady all through the register.

The Verdi arias are all superb with a warm O tu, Palermo and a mature and gripping reading of Philip II’s monologue from Don Carlo standing out. Alviso’s aria from La Gioconda is another high spot. He sings the aria from La sonnambula with melting tone.

Don Giovanni was of course his most famous role and there are two commercial recordings on Decca, one with Josef Krips, the other with Erich Leinsdorf. Quite recently the Royal Opera House Covent Garden issued on their own label a live recording from the Zefirelli – Solti production in 1962 – a set that is worth seeking out. It is good to have what I assume is his earliest recording of the Serenade, showing that he was a fully fledged seducer even by then (tr. 10). The recording date is not known but the catalogue number shows that it must be from the same period.

Like his fellow bass Ruggiero Raimondi, Siepi was also drawn to Neapolitan songs, normally regarded as tenor repertoire, but hearing a good bass in such songs is just as attractive and Siepi makes the most of them. My personal favourite is the honeyed reading of Brogei’s Visione Veneziana (tr. 17).

There have been few better basses around during the last sixty years and hearing Cesare Siepi in his mature youth is a treat indeed.

Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Ernani: Infelice! e tu credevi by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Cesare Siepi (Bass)
Conductor:  Arturo Basile
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1947-1948 
2.
Nabucco: Tu sul labbro by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Cesare Siepi (Bass)
Written: 1842 
3.
Mefistofele: Son lo spirito che nega by Arrigo Boito
Performer:  Cesare Siepi (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868; Italy 
4.
Don Carlos: Ella giammai m'amò...Dormirò sol sul manto mio regal by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Cesare Siepi (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867/1884; Italy 
5.
Don Giovanni, K 527: Deh vieni alla finestra [Serenade] by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Cesare Siepi (Bass)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787; Prague, Czech Republ 
6.
Canzoni-stornelli (3): no 2, L'ultima canzone by Francesco Paolo Tosti
Performer:  Cesare Siepi (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1905; Italy 
7.
Romanze (2): no 2, Non t'amo più! by Francesco Paolo Tosti
Performer:  Cesare Siepi (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884; Italy 
8.
Romanze (3): no 2, Malia by Francesco Paolo Tosti
Performer:  Cesare Siepi (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; London, England 
9.
Occhi di fata by Luigi Denza
Performer:  Cesare Siepi (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Naples, Italy 
10.
Mia sposa sarà la mia bandiera by Augusto Rotoli
Performer:  Cesare Siepi (Bass)
11.
Visione veneziana by Renato Brogi
Performer:  Cesare Siepi (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
12.
E canta il grillo by Vincenzo Billi
Performer:  Cesare Siepi (Bass)
13.
La serenata by Francesco Paolo Tosti
Performer:  Cesare Siepi (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; London, England 
14.
I vespri siciliani: O tu, Palermo by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Cesare Siepi (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855; Italy 
15.
La Gioconda: Si, morir ella de' by Amilcare Ponchielli
Performer:  Cesare Siepi (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Italy 
16.
L'italiana in Algeri: Le femmine d'Italia by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Cesare Siepi (Bass)
Conductor:  Alfredo Simonetto
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1813; Italy 
17.
Il barbiere di Siviglia: La calunnia è un venticello by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Cesare Siepi (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Italy 
18.
La sonnambula: Vi ravviso, o luoghi ameni by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Cesare Siepi (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; Italy 

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