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An Evening With Joan Sutherland & Luciano Pavarotti

Pavarotti / Sutherland / Mooc / Bonynge
Release Date: 04/15/2008 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 001101509  
Composer:  Giuseppe VerdiGaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Leo NucciDame Joan SutherlandFerruccio FurlanettoLuciano Pavarotti
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



AN EVENING WITH JOAN SUTHERLAND & LUCIANO PAVAROTTI Richard Bonynge, cond; Joan Sutherland (sop); Luciano Pavarotti (ten); Leo Nucci (bar); Metropolitan Op O & Ch DECCA 0743229 (DVD: 114:10 Text and Translation)


Excerpts from: VERDI La traviata; Rigoletto. DONIZETTI Lucia di Lammermoor


This 1987 Metropolitan Opera Gala Read more features scenes from three of the operas in which Pavarotti and Sutherland regularly starred: La traviata, Lucia di Lammermoor , and Rigoletto . The scenes are fully staged from the then-current Met productions, and are presented in their entirety. For La traviata and Rigoletto we get the final acts complete. For Lucia we’re given the second scene of the first act (so we hear Lucia’s “Regnava nel silenzio” and the big Lucia-Edgardo duet), and then the tomb scene.


Musically, one could hardly ask for more. If those younger opera-lovers want to know what we old-timers complain about missing, here it is. The drama may take second place to the singing, particularly with Sutherland, but what singing it is! Although she had been singing leading roles for 28 years (and longer than that in total), Sutherland still retained the evenness and fullness of tone that made her such a miracle. There may never have been a soprano voice of such plushness and richness that was capable of her kind of agility. The very top notes were not quite as beautiful and full-toned in 1987 as they were a decade earlier (I was at her Met debut as Lucia in 1961, and it ranks as one of the most unforgettable nights of my operatic life), but they were still a marvel. She sings all three roles with beautifully warm tone (Violetta’s “Addio del passato” is particularly lovely), and one just forgets that she invests so little dramatic intensity into her singing—or rather, one doesn’t really care.


Pavarotti makes an interesting contrast to Sutherland. For one thing, she produced her tonal beauty and long line in part by soft-pedaling consonants, which does have the unfortunate effect of removing some of the rhythmic spine from the music. Pavarotti, on the other hand, was always a singer whose diction was a model of crisp clarity—and who managed a flowing legato despite that fact. To hear him carefully articulate consonants, and even use them for dramatic effect, while she is swallowing hers, is a study in contrasting styles. He also was still, in 1987, interested in projecting some dramatic reality—his Tomb Scene from Lucia is very moving.


But while I can pick a variety of nits (and did, I guess), the fact is that one is simply swept along in the glory of these two magnificent voices heard in full throttle, both with a natural feel for how this music should go. The supporting singers are all first-rate (Leo Nucci, as both Germont and Rigoletto, is the most telling actor on the stage and is in good voice, and Ferruccio Furlanetto’s Sparafucile is about as good as it gets in that role). Richard Bonynge is, as he always was, competent and knowledgeable about the style without ever being insightful or truly energizing. The Met Orchestra plays wonderfully, and the chorus is also excellent.


The video production values are minimal. The directing for TV is as unimaginative as it gets—80 percent of the time we just get a close-up of whoever is singing. It does not get in the way, and it emphasizes the fact that this is primarily a vocal feast, even though the scenes are fully staged, rather than adding anything to the drama. The sound is that odd mixture I often find from the Met—closely miked for the orchestra, but lots of air around the voices. There is something unreal about it. The English titles are somewhat stilted.


As I read what I have written, it seems to me to be all true, but to leave the wrong flavor. Despite the flaws, what I may not have conveyed sufficiently is the splendor of the singing. This is, ultimately, what grand opera is about; singing like this stays long in the memory, and for that reason this DVD is recommended strongly.


FANFARE: Henry Fogel
1 Format: NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Region: 0 (all)
Sound: LPCM Stereo/DTS 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: None
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Works on This Recording

1.
La traviata: Act 3 by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Leo Nucci (Baritone), Dame Joan Sutherland (Soprano), Ferruccio Furlanetto (Bass),
Luciano Pavarotti (Tenor)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  Metropolitan Opera, New York 
2.
Lucia di Lammermoor: Act 1, scene 2 by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland (Soprano), Ferruccio Furlanetto (Bass), Luciano Pavarotti (Tenor),
Leo Nucci (Baritone)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  Metropolitan Opera, New York 
3.
Lucia di Lammermoor: Act 3, scene 3 by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland (Soprano), Ferruccio Furlanetto (Bass), Luciano Pavarotti (Tenor),
Leo Nucci (Baritone)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  Metropolitan Opera, New York 
4.
Rigoletto: Act 3 by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland (Soprano), Ferruccio Furlanetto (Bass), Luciano Pavarotti (Tenor),
Leo Nucci (Baritone)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  Metropolitan Opera, New York 

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