Notes and Editorial Reviews
Georges Prêtre, cond; Alfredo Kraus (
); Elena Obraztsova (
); Daniela Mazzuccato (
); Alberto Rinaldi (
); La Scala O & Ch
OPERA D’ORO 1482, mono (2 CDs: 131:50) Live: Milan 2/12/1976
I imagine that the obvious
customers for this release are fans of Alfredo Kraus and Elena Obraztsova. There may also be those who are
curious about what the orchestra is doing—for them, this release should be delightful, for the perspective places the orchestra front and center, relegating the singers to the rear. They are only rarely drowned out, and it is obvious that some very good singing is going on off in the distance. It’s a triumph that Kraus, Obraztsova, and the rest of the cast (Nicola Zaccaria is a vivid Bailiff) make the impression that they do. Obviously, the recording was made somewhere in the auditorium with an audience consisting, in equal parts, of clappers and shushers, with the former eventually triumphing as things heat up. Georges Prêtre, making a slight cut in act II, conducts in what sounds like, but probably wasn’t, an improvisatory way—the playing is strong and impassioned. The audience seems to have gotten its money’s worth, presumably hearing the singers more clearly than you will.
A good recording of
but, really, who needs it? It’s gobbled up alive by the competition. Obraztsova fans? She made a good studio recording with Domingo, Augér, and Grundhaber with Chailly conducting. Kraus admirers? He made a good studio recording with Troyanos, Barbaux, and Managuerra with Plasson conducting. As for Prêtre, he, too, made a good studio recording with Gedda, de los Angeles, Mesplé, and Benoit, as well as yet another La Scala pirate with Kraus, Valentini-Terrani, and Panerei, which I haven’t heard. If none of the above interests you, we are still not out of good ones: a particular favorite of mine is a stereo RTF production conducted by Jésus Etcheverry with Albert Lance, Rita Gorr, Mady Mesplé, and Gabriel Bacquier; and there is always the 1931 78 reissue led by Elie Cohen with the celebrated Georges Thill, a more-heroic-than-usual Werther, and French stalwarts Ninon Vallin and Germaine Feraldy. Cohen makes three cuts, one in each act, but they are harmless ones. It really is a classic recording whose only weakness is the playing of the orchestra, which is a shade less precise and sonorous than what we are accustomed to nowadays.
FANFARE: James Miller
Works on This Recording
Werther by Jules Massenet
Alfredo Kraus (Tenor),
Elena Obraztsova (Mezzo Soprano),
Nicola Zaccaria (Bass),
Alberto Rinaldi (Baritone)
Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus,
Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Written: 1892; France
Werther: Act I, "Assez! Assez!
Werther: Act I, "Bravo pour les enfants!"
Werther: Act I, "Alors, c'est bien ici"
Werther: Act I, "Ô nature, plein de gráce"
Werther: Act I, "Jésus vient de naître"
Werther: Act I, "Charlotte! Charlotte!"
Werther: Act I, "Ô spectacle idéal"
Werther: Act I, "Vivat Bacchus, semper vivat!
Werther: Act I, "Sophie!... Albert!..."
Werther: Act I, "Elle m'aime"
Werther: Act I, Interlude
Werther: Act I, "Il faut nous séparer"
Werther: Act I, "Mais vous ne savez rien de moi"
Werther: Act I, "Rêve! Extase! Bonheur!"
Werther: Act II, "Vivat Bacchus--semper vivat!"
Werther: Act II, "Trois mois! Voici trois mois"
Werther: Act II, "Un autre est son époux!"
Werther: Act II, "Si! Käthchen reviendra"
Werther: Act II, "Au bonheur dont mon âme es pleine"
Werther: Act II, "Vois l'avez dit"
Werther: Act II, "Frère, voyez le bouquet!"
Werther: Act II, "Heureux! Pourrai-je l'être encore?"
Werther: Act II, "Ai-je dit vrai?"
Werther: Act II, "Ah! Qu'il est loin ce jour"
Werther: Act II, "Ou, ce qu'elle m'ordonne"
Werther: Act II, "Lorsque l'enfant revient d'un voyage"
Werther: Act II, "Mais venez donc! Le cortège s'approche"
Werther: Act III, Prelude
Werther: Act III, "Werther! Werther!"
Werther: Act III, "Bonjour, grande soeur!"
Werther: Act III, "Va! Laisse couler mes larmes!"
Werther: Act III, "Tiens, Charlotte, crois-moi, ne reste pas ici"
Werther: Act III, "Ah! Mon courage m'abondonne!"
Werther: Act III, "Ou, c'est moi! Je reviens... et pourtant"
Werther: Act III, "Traduire! Ah! Bien souvent mon rêve s'envola"
Werther: Act III, "Pourquoi me réveiller"
Werther: Act III, "N'achevez pas! Hélas!"
Werther: Act III, "Ah! Moi! Dans ses bras!"
Werther: Act III, "Werther est de retour"
Werther: Act IV, Christmas Ever--Symphonie Interlude
Werther: Act IV, "Werther! Rien"
Werther: Act IV, "Qui parle? Charlotte, ah!"
Werther: Act IV, "Oui, du jour même"
Werther: Act IV, "Noël! Noël! Noël!"
Werther: Act IV, "Ah! Ses yeux se ferment"
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