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Verdi: Don Carlo / Levine, Sylvester, Millo, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra

Release Date: 11/22/2011 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 7527732   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Jane BunnellPaul PlishkaFerruccio FurlanettoMichael Sylvester,   ... 
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera ChorusMetropolitan Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"Levine realizes the nobility and inner intensity of Verdi's broad concept. On this occasion there's little to cavil at in his speeds and his attention to detail, as for instance the mournful string figure that underpins Eboli's confession in Act 4 and the reflective accompaniment to the Queen's recollections of happier times at Fontainebleau in her Act 5 aria, is as discerning as ever.

Levine opts for the five-act Italian version of 1886 given in full with the addition of the opening chorus from 1867, which is what he performs at the Metropolitan. His singers are substantially those who appeared in a recent revival in that house and, with one exception, would be hard to surpass today. They make a substantial case for
Read more preferring this to any of the other five-act versions listed above. Millo, after a somewhat unsatisfactory Luisa Miller for Levine, here returns, as Elisabeth, to the superb form she showed in the Sony Aida. There are those who are troubled by the occasional beat in her voice, but that seems to me as nothing set against her many virtues. Where is there a soprano in recent times who has such strength and authentically Italianate bite, such understanding of Verdian style in this type of role? Not even Freni (Karajan/EMI) sings with such spinto attack, yet at the same time Millo can fine away her tone exquisitely. All these virtues are exemplified in the touching farewell to the Countess of Aremberg, Elisabetta's duet with Carlos in Act 2 and, most potently, in "Tu che Ic vanith" where Millo combines broad phrasing in the grand manner with a deal of sensitivity. By her side Caballé (Giulini) sounds under-powered and self-regarding. As Millo also offers a vulnerable portrait of the distraught Queen her assumption here can be counted a complete success.

So can that of Zajick as Eboli, another singer with power and sensibility held in equal parts. She sings a carefully crafted, accurate (especially as regards dynamics) account of the Veil Song, where she really tells a story, and makes tight of the exorbitant demands of "0 don fatale", offering a truer chest tone than her rivals, a good legato and a proud, unflinching top, high C flat. She too sounds convincing as an interpreter. Even better is the Rodrigo Chernov who bids fair to be the leading Verdi baritone of the next ten years and more. It's worth making comparisons here with contenders of recent years. He has a voice that rivals Bastianini's in beauty with the intelligence and vocal character of Wixell; not a bad combination, while his general style and long breath are in the Cappuccilli manner. In his faultlessly sung and phrased reading I miss just one quality Gobbi, on the newly reissued EMI brings to the role, a plangent timbre that makes the death scene even more moving than the exemplary delivery of the notes Chernov gives it.

Sylvester copes accurately and securely with Carlo, one of Verdi's most demanding tenor roles, and exhibits plenty of squillo. Only the topmost notes sometimes sound a shade tight and forced. What I miss in his performance is wholly idiomatic Italian and the sense of inner desperation so finely expressed by Carreras (Karajan). With Bergouzi (SoltifDecca) and the young Domingo (Giulini) as his other rivals one can only praise Sylvester for not paling before their shining example. By contrast, Furlanetto has—of course—pure Italian, but few of the other qualities a Philip II demands; his tone is poorly focused and gritty in timbre: he is the exception mentioned above that lames this set. Ramey, a highly accomplished Philip (a role he has recently recorded for EMI), is here assigned to the lesser, though important, part of the Grand Inquisitor. Immediately he begins to sing, the faults in Furlanetto's performance are made manifest. Still, it is good to hear the Inquisitor sung with such authority and Furlanetto, whatever his vocal failings, makes plain the king's inner agony here and elsewhere—this encounter goes splendidly under Levine's direction."

-- Gramophone [4/1993] reviewing original release
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Works on This Recording

Don Carlos by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Jane Bunnell (Mezzo Soprano), Paul Plishka (Bass), Ferruccio Furlanetto (Bass),
Michael Sylvester (Tenor), Vladimir Chernov (Baritone), Aprile Millo (Soprano),
Samuel Ramey (Bass)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867/1886 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 This is the one! December 20, 2011 By Brian Lowery (Kearneysville, WV) See All My Reviews "Best overall recording of Don Carlo. I listen to it over and over although I have 5 other full recordings. Aprile Millo is superb, and James Levine does somthing special with the already special music. Verdi is the genius and this recording helps you understand his greatness." Report Abuse
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