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Verdi: Il Trovatore / Karajan, Callas, Panerai, Barbieri


Release Date: 11/09/2010 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 40773   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Giulio MauriMaria CallasGiuseppe Di StefanoFedora Barbieri,   ... 
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala OrchestraMilan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 2 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Gramophone:
"Leonora was one of Callas's finest stage roles and this recording is wonderfully intense, with a dark concentrated loveliness of sound in the principal arias that puts one in mind of Muzio or Ponselle at their best. Walter Legge always managed to team Callas with the right conductor for the work in question. Often it was Serafin, but Karajan in Il trovatore is as compelling a prospect as de Sabata in Tosca...This opera, like Beethoven's Seventh Symphony and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, is one of music's great essays in sustained rhythmic intensity; dramatically it deals powerfully in human archetypes. All this is realized by the young Karajan with that almost insolent mastery of score and orchestra which
Read more made him such a phenomenon at this period of his career...whatever you do don't miss this set." - GRAMOPHONE

Fanfare:
This 1956 Milan recording holds up extremely well against several more modern competitive versions led by outstanding conductors (Mehta, Giulini, Davis, and Karajan himself) and cast with performers on the same impressive level. It scores high even in the matter of completeness: unlike earlier “complete” recordings that favored the so-called “traditional” cuts, Karajan omits only the repeats of Leonora’s two cabalettas: “Di tale amor” and “ Tu vedrai amore in terra.” Manrico’s “Di quella pira” also gets the full treatment, with Di Stefano relishing his high C in the repeat.

Callas is, of course, the main attraction. Her Leonora is enriched by tonal shadings of infinite variety, though perhaps the tragic undertones of her characterization are the most memorable elements of her portrayal. The unique musicality and eloquence of her phrasing deserve special admiration. Vocally, too, she is beyond reproach and by no means intimidated by the high option (D?) in the fourth-act aria “D’amor sull’ali rosee,” an aria where dynamic nuances are observed with remarkable precision.

The year 1956 may have been a shade too early for Giuseppe di Stefano’s Manrico, and he is no match for Callas’s coloristic sensitivity. But he meets all of the role’s challenges head-on and, though he cannot supply the trills for “Ah si, ben mio,” we can only admire the tonal beauty of his lyrical singing, particularly in the two duets of act IV. Fedora Barbieri’s “Stride la vampa” is marred by wayward pitches, but she recovers for a gripping “Condotta ell’era in ceppi,” and remains in firm control thereafter. In the tender “Ai nostri monti” (act IV) both she and Di Stefano are at their most touching. Rolando Panerai’s Conte di Luna reveals passing moments of strain in the high passages, but his overall work is impressive and his textual communication is exceptionally vivid. The firm Ferrando of Nicola Zaccaria completes the cast.

Karajan’s contribution cannot be overstated. He understands the special passion that lies at the core of this opera, and gets exciting response from his excellent cast. His conducting is intense, fiery, and rhythmically precise; and the orchestral textures are always transparently clear. Karajan’s handling of the tumultuous second-act finale is a good example of a rare combination of flexibility and textural clarity. The richness and power he achieves with the La Scala orchestra is quite extraordinary. This is indeed one of the “Great Recordings of the Century.”

George Jellinek, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1.
Il trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Giulio Mauri (Bass), Maria Callas (Soprano), Giuseppe Di Stefano (Tenor),
Fedora Barbieri (Mezzo Soprano), Nicola Zaccaria (Bass), Luisa Villa (Soprano),
Renato Ercolani (Tenor), Rolando Panerai (Baritone)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Italy 
Date of Recording: 04/1956 
Venue:  La Scala Theater, Milan, Italy 
Language: Italian 

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