PUCCINI Gianni Schicchi • Gabriele Santini, cond; Victoria de los Angeles (Lauretta); Anna Maria Canali (Zita); Carlo del Monte (Rinuccio); Tito Gobbi (Gianni Schicchi); Rome Op O • REGIS RRC 1318, mono (52: 58)
This classic EMI recording of Gianni Schicchi will need noRead more introduction to most opera lovers. Fortunately, with this Regis reissue it is now available singly at a budget price (albeit sans libretto), separate from the other two members of the EMI monaural Il trittico, Il tabarro and Suor Angelica, which are not of the same caliber. (While the Suor Anglica with del los Angeles and Fedora Barbieri has many admirers—I have always found it to be something less that the sum of its considerable parts—the Tabarro with Titto Gobbi, Giacinto Prandelli, and Margaret Mas is rightly regarded by most critics as being a failure.) Gobbi is for many the definitive Schicchi, consummately canny and crafty, while de los Angeles as always lives up to her surname in her singing of Lauretta. If Carlo del Monte is only mediocre as Rinuccio, he is the equal of most of his recorded competition—given his wonderful aria “Firenze è come un albero fiorito,” why is this role so often saddled with inferior casting? The various comprimario roles are all capably sung, and Gabriele Santini leads an effective if not subtle account of the score. However, one can only be exasperated that both this opera and the companion Suor Angelica were recorded monaurally in 1958, when stereo reproduction was being introduced onto the market and RCA and Decca had already been recording stereo masters since 1954. This Regis issue has sweetened the rather astringent original acoustic with a modest touch of added reverberation.
As for competition, few recordings of the opera are available singly; most are included in complete sets of Il trittico. Among these, I remain loyal to the classic Decca set under Lamberto Gardelli, with Renata Tebaldi performing a stellar hat trick as the three soprano leads, partnered by Mario del Monaco (vociferous and thrilling) and Robert Merrill (clueless and colorless) in Il tabarro, Giuletta Simionato (stupendously regal and chilling) in Suor Angelica, and Agostino Lazzari and Fernando Corena in Gianni Schicchi. While Lazzari is a poor Rinuccio with a raspy, gritty sound, Tebaldi is the equal of de los Angeles as Lauretta. More surprisingly, Corena—a singer who often resorted to coarse vocal mannerisms in his assumptions of buffo roles, to the great detriment of control over his vocal production—holds his own against Gobbi as a superbly comic Schicchi, good humored rather than caustic in dealing with the greedy relatives. My major reasons for preferring this Decca version to the EMI, however, are the vastly superior recorded sound, superior conducting, and exceptionally well-cast and lively coterie of Donati relatives (the strong supporting casts also carry over into the other two operas). Of the few other single issues, the most attractive alternative, available at midprice on Eurodisc, features Helen Donath, Peter Seiffert, Rolando Panerai, and Giuseppe Patanè. Seiffert, singing in his prime before he ruined his voice with pretensions of being a Heldententor, is an excellent Rinuccio, and Donath offers a vocally lovely (if just slightly matronly) Lauretta. Panerai’s voice is unusually heavy and dark for Schicchi, and bears some marks of three decades of vocal mileage, but he is still effective. Supporting roles are well cast, Patanè conducts ably, and the recorded sound is excellent. If you want Schicchi by itself rather than in a set, either the Eurodisc performance or this Regis offering will fill the bill nicely.
Gianni Schicchiby Giacomo Puccini Performer:
Victoria de los Angeles (Voice),
Adelio Zagonara (Voice),
Fernando Valentini (Voice),
Paolo Caroli (Voice),
Virgilio Stoco (Voice),
Lidia Marimpietri (Voice),
Paolo Montarsolo (Voice),
Tito Gobbi (Voice),
Saturno Meletti (Voice),
Claudio Cornoldi (Voice),
Alfredo Mariotti (Voice),
Anna Maria Canali (Voice),
Giuliana Raymondi (Voice),
Carlo del Monte (Voice)
Period: Romantic Written: 1918; Italy Date of Recording: 06/1958 Venue: Rome Opera House, Italy
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Tito Gobbi-the singer's singerApril 19, 2014By madeline c. (jacksonville, FL)See All My Reviews"This is the standard for performances of Gianni Schicchi for many people. Del Monte was unknown to me, and he is a revelation. Beautiful,manly voice. Gobbi never fails. It's said that this was his favorite role, and it shows. De Los Angeles is beautiful. Altogether, highly recommended."Report Abuse
YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN TO ARKIVMUSIC STREAMING.
TRY IT NOW FOR FREE!
Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming