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Verdi: Don Carlo / Muti, Pavarotti, Ramey, Et Al

Verdi / Pavarotti / Ramey / Coni / Dessi / Muti
Release Date: 06/15/2004 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 99442  
Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Alexander AnisimovDaniela DessiLuciano PavarottiSamuel Ramey,   ... 
Conductor:  Riccardo Muti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala OrchestraMilan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Full review from FANFARE Magazine:
This production was presented at the opening night of the La Scala season on December 7, 1992, and the headlines all over the world reported that Pavarotti was booed by the audience when he cracked on a high B in the auto-da-fè scene. Obviously, both the earlier released videotape and CD were from a different performance. James Miller reviewed the CD ( Fanfare 17:6). Now, the same performance that was issued on videotape is available on DVD.

Typically, the production by Franco Zeffirelli is spectacular, grandiose, and often focuses on religious symbols. One would think that half the population of Milan was hired or at least that monks were acquired from all the
Read more monasteries in the area. The production overwhelms the singers, and on a TV screen the grandeur is often lost. The stage direction is somewhat vapid and uninspired.

Muti directs the standard uncut four-act version with his usual precision. At times, he indulges in his preference of fast tempos, but on the whole he does produce a musically correct performance. Pavarotti is in good voice on this occasion, and his fans will not be disappointed. In the upper range, he retains the golden quality of his tone, but the lower range is often dark and unfocused. Luciana D’Intino is a fine Eboli; her bright voice shines in the veil song, although one might wish for a darker voice to plumb the depths of feeling in “O don fatale.” Samuel Ramey is a first-rate Philip; however, he looks young enough to be Pavarotti’s son rather than his father. At least he could have worn a gray wig rather than brown hair just slightly flecked with gray. Unfortunately, three fine singers are not adequate for this opera. Daniela Dessi is clearly over-parted. Her voice is too light and often becomes shrill under pressure. She does sing the notes, but that’s about all. Paolo Coni may look the part of Rodrigo, but his unfocused, wooly sound is distressing. Alexander Anisimov is a capable Grand Inquisitor.

The picture quality is outstanding and the sound excellent. The booklet provides notes in several languages. Purists will favor the original five-act French version on Kultur DVD. That performance is also available on CD and was reviewed by James Miller ( Fanfare 20:5). Antonio Pappano’s conducting is sensitive. Although the staging is not as spectacular, the cast is superior. Roberto Alagna is a youthful, lyrical Don Carlos, and Karita Mattila an excellent Elisabeth. José van Dam is the equal of Ramey, and visually looks like an old King. Waltrude Meier is the opposite of D’Intino, her darker sound more suitable for “O don fatale,” but less flexible in the veil song. Thomas Hampson has the richness of tone that makes his Rodrigue far superior to that of Coni’s. I would consider it my first choice. Fans of Muti or Pavarotti or those who prefer the Italian version will not be disappointed in this set, and I will give it a qualified recommendation.

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Works on This Recording

Don Carlos by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Alexander Anisimov (Bass), Daniela Dessi (Soprano), Luciano Pavarotti (Tenor),
Samuel Ramey (Bass), Paolo Coni (Baritone), Luciana D'Intino (Soprano)
Conductor:  Riccardo Muti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867/1886 

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