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Bizet: Carmen / Dervaux, Simionato, Corelli, Freni, Et Al

Release Date: 06/30/2009 
Label:  Idi   Catalog #: 6571/2   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Georges Bizet
Performer:  Giangiacomo GuelfiLoretta Di LelioMirella FreniFranco Corelli,   ... 
Conductor:  Pierre Dervaux
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palermo Teatro Massimo ChorusPalermo Teatro Massimo Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Length: 2 Hours 24 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BIZET Carmen Pierre Dervaux, cond; Giulietta Simionato ( Carmen ); Franco Corelli ( José ); Mirella Freni ( Micaëla ); Giangiacomo Guelfi ( Escamillo ); Teatro Massimo O & Ch, Palermo IDI 6571, mono (2 CDs: 143:16) Live: Palermo 2/8/59

Given that the principal Read more singers were among the biggest names of their day, one might have expected more from this 50-year-old broadcast (?) of Carmen , but Pierre Dervaux pretty much crunches his way through the score and much of what little nuance there is comes when Corelli and Guelfi wrap their vocal cords around a good note and hold it as long as possible. Even Freni eventually gets into the spirit of things, throwing in some extra top notes, but at least she makes them fit within their context (i.e., she doesn’t try to hold them forever). Only Simionato keeps her head while all about her are losing theirs, but I am sure she can be heard on a better Carmen than this one. Not content with flooring the accelerator, Dervaux makes some piddling little cuts, for what purpose, I don’t know, but includes the bogus “Carmen Ballet Music” (excerpts from L’arlesienne and The Fair Maid of Perth ) in act IV.

The performance is sung in Italian, which creates some problems with the notes but also apparently appeals to the audience at the Teatro Massimo, which claps and shouts its enthusiastic approval throughout. Maybe you had to be there. Simionato is a fine-sounding Carmen, with a respectable technique, but she cannot cope with Dervaux’s driving tempo in the “Gypsy Song” (I wonder if anyone could). After act I, Corelli, perhaps “inspired” by the reception Guelfi receives for shouting his way through the “Toreador Song,” pours it on, using all his vocal tricks—shouting, sobbing, scooping, the works—turning his performance into one long, desperate (and successful) bid for applause. Freni’s respectable Micaëla pretty much gets lost in this mayhem. If anyone cares, the comprimarios sound like solid professionals. The sound is just a bit boomy but well balanced between soloists and orchestra. There is a good bit of stage noise and some distortion in loud passages, but admirers of such live performances are used to this and will have little difficulty listening through such distractions.

FANFARE: James Miller
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Works on This Recording

Carmen by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Giangiacomo Guelfi (Baritone), Loretta Di Lelio (Mezzo Soprano), Mirella Freni (Soprano),
Franco Corelli (Tenor), Giulietta Simionato (Mezzo Soprano), Enzo Viaro (Bass),
Mario Rossetti (Baritone), Guido Malfatti (Bass), Norma Palmieri (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Dervaux
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palermo Teatro Massimo Chorus,  Palermo Teatro Massimo Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873-1874; France 
Date of Recording: 02/08/1959 
Venue:  Massimo Theater, Palermo, Italy 
Length: 143 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Language: Italian 

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