This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Callas's singing is touched by genius in this, the first of her great series of EMI opera recordings.
Of the opera sets which Callas remade for EMI (Norma and Tosca being the others), Lucia is the one in which the versions are most easily confused. The other recording (listed as a comparison) has Ferruccio Tagliavini as Edgardo, and Tagliavini, one thinks, surely came before di Stefano. But no: di Stefano is in this earlier recording, and Tagliavini (only eight years his senior and still not yet 50) was called back to the studios, presum ably to show how the part should sound when sung by a lyric tenor with some feeling for style. Unfortunately it does not work out that way. Tagliavini's voice had lost resonance by
1959 and there is no sustained demonstration of the masterlyricist in this performance but only a rather abject imitation of Gigli without the lustrous tone that alone might have justified it. Di Stefano is certainly no model of grace, but he gives a lively, responsive performance, and rises with conviction to the finale of the Wedding scene. With the baritone role, Piero Cappuccilli came into the second recording (Walter Legge, who produced both versions, had no high opinion of Gobbi but thought very well of Cappuccilli, just then gaining international prominence). But when one comes to compare, it is all too easy to forget Cappuccilli, while Gobbi remains intensely memorable. As for the Chaplains of the respective sets, neither Arie nor his successor Ladysz has the desirable depth and richness, and the other parts even out.
The one major superiority of the second version is its clearer recording of the orchestra: the performance itself (both are under Serafin) is much the same. And artistically Callas is much the same too. The difference lies in the condition of her voice, which here is those few but vital years younger. Repeatedly, in both versions, her singing is touched by genius, but it is a genius which has freer access through the relatively firm and indeed often beautiful instrument that her voice could be at the time of this, the first of her great series of EMI opera recordings.
-- Gramophone [10/1989]
Works on This Recording
Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti
Giuseppe Di Stefano (Tenor),
Tito Gobbi (Baritone),
Raphäel Arié (Bass),
Valiano Natali (Tenor),
Maria Callas (Soprano),
Anna Maria Canali (Mezzo Soprano),
Gino Sarri (Tenor)
Florence Maggio Musicale Orchestra,
Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Written: 1835; Italy
Date of Recording: 1953
Venue: Communal Theatre, Florence, Italy
Length: 111 Minutes 11 Secs.
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