"For whatever reason Decca have delayed issuing this set for all of five years. In the event, they had little to fear as the results, all in all, make this version reasonably competitive in a field not over-populated with recommendable versions. The problem has always been to assemble five singers equal to the inordinate demands Verdi places on them, and Decca have here had a reasonable shot at it.
The inspiration for the recording was an admired production at the Maggio Musicale in Florence in 1990, conducted by Mehta with three of the same principals as here, but a different Azucena and Luna, Zajick and Zancanaro, each of whom had appeared in a rival version, Zajick on the recent and excellent Levine set, Zancanaro forRead more Giulini (DG, 2/85). They are replaced by Verrett and Nucci, a fair exchange where the mezzo is concerned as Verrett's portrayal, always one of her best roles, is given here with more feeling and involvement than anyone else in the cast. The sad world-weariness and sense of fate that she gets into her voice, allied to her feeling for words, make her interpretation of the role among the most successful on disc. Her voice, with its dark grain, is in a remarkable state for a singer who was 59 at the time, only showing sign of strain at the top.
She is at her most compelling in her two duets with Pavarotti's Manrico, as the gipsy attempts to rationalize her odd relationship with her supposed son. Manrico-Pavarotti responds with understandable confusion. Vocally speaking, the two veteran singers are well attuned to each other, attempting the familiar with nicely varied accents and dynamics. As Pavarotti has readily admitted, his predominantly lyrical tenor is not the ideal for Manrico, which really calls for a Ienore diforza, but - like Björling before him - he sings it with such unfailing musicality and sense of line (listen to the recitative before "Ali si, ben mio", indeed the aria itself) that the missing decibels are hardly missed, even in a pretty exciting "Di quella pira" - two verses of that cabaletta, for this is a complete account ofthe score. His tone has certainly dried out a little - but so has Domingo's on the rival Levine set.
And what of the Leonora? Banaudi, a name that will be new to most collectors as it was to me, received a deal of praise for her portrayal in Florence, sang it the same year in Lucerne. Since then, she has appeared nowhere important enough for Opera magazine to report on her, which is strange as she seems here to have a healthy voice under reasonable control. It is a true spinlo, not technically immaculate but as well used as that of most of her contemporaries, though Millo's specific artistry for Levine is missing. A few signs of immaturity are banished in her excellent account of her Act 4 aria, and the even more confident dispatch of"Tu vedrai". Nucci, as ever, sings Verdi with plenty of heart and dramatic purpose, but his constant rhythmic emphases, as if to compensate for a voice a size too small for this role, become wearing. Ellero d'Artegna, a resonant bass, manages to keep boredom at bay in Ferrando's narrative exposition. It is a pleasure to hear veteran comprimario de Palma make so much of his small role...Pavarotti enthusiasts need not hesitate to acquire this version, confident that their hero's portrayal is set in suitable surroundings"
-- A.B., Gramophone Reviewing original release of this recording Read less
Works on This Recording
Il trovatoreby Giuseppe Verdi Performer:
Antonella Banaudi (Soprano),
Shirley Verrett (Mezzo Soprano),
Leo Nucci (Baritone),
Francesco Ellero d'Artegna (Bass),
Barbara Frittoli (Soprano),
Piero de Palma (Tenor),
Roberto Scaltriti (Baritone),
Enrico Facini (Tenor),
Luciano Pavarotti (Tenor)
Florence Maggio Musicale Orchestra,
Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Period: Romantic Written: 1853; Italy Date of Recording: 07/1990 Venue: Maggio Musicale, Florence, Italy Length: 131 Minutes 52 Secs. Language: Italian