VERDI I Lombardi • Gianandrea Gavazzeni, cond; Renata Scotto (Giselda); Luciano Pavarotti (Oronte); Ruggiero Raimondi (Pagano); Umberto Grilli (Arvino); Anna di Stasio (Viclinda); Mario Rinaudo (Pirro); Rome Op O & Ch Read more class="BULLET12"> • OPERA D’ORO 7082 (127:00 Text and Translation) Live: Rome 1969
It’s clear after a few minutes into this live performance from the Rome Opera House in 1969, that the necessary ingredients for an ideal I Lombardi were all assembled. The veteran Gianandrea Gavazzeni’s conducting is suitably energetic and exciting. The singing in secondary roles is strong, as is that of the little-known Umberto Grilli as Arvino, the less grateful of the two leading tenor roles. The sound of the recording is decent enough that one makes allowances for its dullness and savors the singing, and it’s the singing of the three leads, Renata Scotto, Luciano Pavarotti, and Ruggiero Raimondi, each heard relatively early in their careers, that makes this a first choice among recordings of the opera.
Scotto, in particular, is in splendid voice and far surpasses any other performance of Giselda, the most varied and difficult role in I Lombardi, that I have heard. Listen to her finely controlled act I prayer, whose vocal line and accompaniment of solo winds foreshadows Desdemona’s act IV music in Otello composed 44 years later; or to her gorgeous third-act aria or indeed any utterance of hers on this particular evening, be it recitative or a soaring top line in an ensemble. It’s an inspired, dazzling performance. Ruggiero Raimondi performs with terrific dramatic presence and his voice, which always seemed to me to be as much baritone as bass, could not be better. Even moderate fans of Pavarotti, like myself, will admit that in 1969 his voice was resplendent. Domingo, on the Gardelli recording, and Villazón, in a studio recital, may sing the aria “La mia letizia infondere,” one of I Lombardi’s most treasurable highlights, with more nuance than Pavarotti, but his sound and approach are thrilling.
This, one of the budget label Opera d’Oro’s “Grand Tier” releases, includes, for a higher price, a libretto along with an appreciation of the work and the performance by Robert Levine. Temistocle Solera’s libretto is one of the more primitive texts that Verdi set, with an absurd plot and implausible characters, but it does have the virtue of quick pacing to which Verdi responded with music that is almost always of interest.
The aspects in which Lamberto Gardelli’s respectable studio I Lombardi is preferable to this one are its recorded sound, the orchestral playing, and perhaps the conducting. Otherwise, that performance is marred by the insecure singing of Cristina Deutekom as Giselda. Raimondi sounds more engaged in the live performance, and Pavarotti, with his brighter timbre, is better suited to the role of Oronte than Domingo. Some of the choruses, an important element in this opera, are almost inaudible on Opera d’Oro, due to stage positioning. Nonetheless, the performance of “O Signore, dal tetto natio”—Verdi’s not quite successful attempt at writing a nationalistic hit comparable to “Va pensiero” in Nabucco—is more stirring in Gavazzeni’s reading than in Gardelli’s, helped by being done live. I doubt that I Lombardi has ever been better served than in this performance.
I lombardiby Giuseppe Verdi Performer:
Anna di Stasio (Voice),
Mario Rinaudo (Voice),
Fernando Jacopucci (Voice),
Umberto Grilli (Voice),
Renata Scotto (Voice),
Ruggero Raimondi (Voice)
Rome Opera House Orchestra,
Rome Opera House Chorus
Period: Romantic Written: 1843; Italy Date of Recording: 1969 Venue: Rome Length: 106 Minutes 37 Secs.
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Some Tolerance RequiredApril 20, 2012By D. Hamilton (Indianapolis, IN)See All My Reviews"Being a dedicated adherent of digitally mastered studio recordings, I have little tolerance for extraneous distractions from pure sound. Without doubt this is an exemplary performance of an excellent opera by a cast of singers second to none. However, at the risk of offending audiophils who relish the sound of crystal scraping against vinyl on a vibrating platform, I found it necessary to penalize this recording one star because the quality of the recording leaves much to be desired. Clearly this is a live performance with every cough, wheeze, gasp and seat shift faithfully recorded. There is also a sense of listening to an Edison wax cylinder phonograph which is odd since this is a recording of a 1969 performance."Report Abuse