This stereo edition is far cleaner and more open than any prior release.
GIORDANO Andrea Chénier • Lovro von Matacic, cond; Franco Corelli (Andrea Chénier); Renata Tebaldi (Maddalena); Ettore Bastianini (Gérard); Vienna St Op O & Ch Read more• ORFEO 682 062 (2 CDs: 117:41) Live: Vienna 6/26/1960
This performance of Giordano’s masterpiece has been around on a number of labels (Fonit Cetra, Melodram, etc.), but now Orfeo has given it legitimacy, with an authorized release taken from the archival tapes of the Vienna State Opera. Although the prior versions were adequate, given that their sources were off-the-air broadcasts, this stereo edition is far cleaner and more open than any prior release. The sound is too bright, but one can fix that at home by attenuating the highs.
Although Chénier has received many studio recordings and a number of other live performance releases, only a few really convey the thrills this opera is capable of giving the listener. The two truly great modern Chéniers since World War II have been Mario Del Monaco and Franco Corelli. (Yes, Domingo has done it well—but never had the genuine heft and metal in the voice the role ideally wants.) Del Monaco made a terrific studio recording for Decca (with Tebaldi and Bastianini, brilliantly conducted by Gavazzeni), and there is a splendid live Del Monaco Met performance circulating, with Milanov and Warren conducted by Cleva. Corelli, on the other hand, finds himself in less fortuitous surroundings for his EMI recording. The biggest negative is Gabriele Santini’s lead-footed conducting, lacking propulsion, color, and intensity. Antonietta Stella is an above average Maddalena, but she is no Tebaldi, and Sereni too is quite good without achieving greatness.
This was one of those nights when everything in the opera house was “on.” Matacic (who conducted Corelli’s splendid EMI Pagliacci set) has the measure of this score, and knows when to expand the line and when to push ahead. The conducting is splendid throughout. Tebaldi, as was her wont, strains a bit for some of the top notes, but is at home in one of her signature roles. If there was ever a more beautiful natural soprano voice, I haven’t heard it in 50 years of listening to live and recorded opera, and her natural feel for the shape of this kind of music was inborn. Gérard was also one of Bastianini’s signature roles, and I’ve never heard him sing it any better than he does here. His “Nemico della patria” brings the house down.
In every way, this is a classic recording of the verismo school of Italian opera. Andrea Chénier is, first and foremost, about thrilling grand operatic singing—and you get that for every minute of the almost two hours. When you get tired of old fogies like me complaining about the good old days, take this set off your shelves and listen to it, and then tell me that you can even imagine encountering a performance of this music on this level today.
Orfeo includes illuminating notes about the history of Italian opera performance in postwar Vienna, and the place of this production in the house’s history (it was only performed twice with this cast, and the recording is of the first night). Put simply, this set is what grand opera is all about.
Andrea Chénierby Umberto Giordano Performer:
Edmund Hurshell (Voice),
Margaret Sjostedt (Voice),
Ludwig Welter (Voice),
Elisabeth Höngen (Voice),
Franz Bierbach (Voice),
Ettore Bastianini (Voice),
Endre Koréh (Voice),
Alois Pernerstorfer (Voice),
Fritz Sperlbauer (Voice),
Franco Corelli (Voice),
Kostas Paskalis (Voice),
Harald Pröglhöf (Voice),
Renata Tebaldi (Voice),
Hilde Konetzni (Voice),
Renato Ercolani (Voice)
Lovro von Matacic
Vienna State Opera Chorus,
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1896; Italy Date of Recording: 06/26/1960 Venue: Live Wiener Staatsoper Length: 96 Minutes 33 Secs.
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
POOR SOUND--CORELLI'S VIBRATO IS TOO FASTMay 29, 2019By William N. (Fort Wayne , IN)See All My Reviews"The sound is not good. The microphones are too far away from the singers. In addition, the recorded sound is so low that I had to turn my volume up more than I'd like. The sound alone ruined this recording for me. Besides, Corelli is not in good voice and his vibrato is almost a bleat. I paid $30 for this recording and regretted buying it."Report Abuse