Elizabeth I in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux was, Beverly Sills has said, the role that took 10 years off her career, and indeed, it’s a fearsome undertaking. The very long role is composed over a slightly larger than two-octave span, and there are forte passages at both ends, both in ensembles and alone, and the sheer number of notes the character has to get out is awe-inspiring. Emotionally, too, the part is ripping: The elderly Elizabeth, in love with the Earl of Essex, who in turn loves Sara, the Duchess of Nottingham (forget real English history), is a ferocious monarch, comfortable and powerful only when ruling, and in private, a shattered woman, filled with vulnerabilities. Sills’ voice was at its pristine best in 1969, when this wasRead more recorded, before she sang it on stage. She is in absolute control of every resource she ever had: accurate roulades, brutal chest tones, full-bodied high notes, the ability to express both rage and joy, an impeccable bel canto line, stupendous breath control. What more is needed?
The rest of the cast is not up to her level but has nothing to be ashamed of either: Hungarian tenor Robert Ilosfalvy sings Roberto with ardor and nice tone; Peter Glossop’s un-Italianate voice is not really suited to Nottingham’s music, but his artistry gets him past that hurdle and he’s very fine indeed. Beverly Wolff’s Sara is good without being truly impressive. Charles Mackerras is not the ideal conductor for Donizetti—he’s a bit literal where expressiveness matters more—but this scarcely detracts from the whole.
Roberto Devereuxby Gaetano Donizetti Performer:
Beverly Sills (Soprano),
Peter Glossop (Baritone),
Robert Ilosfalvy (Tenor),
Beverly Wolff (Mezzo Soprano),
Don Garrard (Bass),
Kenneth MacDonald (Tenor),
Gwynne Howell (Bass),
Richard Van Allan (Bass)
Sir Charles Mackerras
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,
Ambrosian Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic Written: 1837; Italy Date of Recording: 06/1969 Venue: EMI Abbey Road Studios, London Length: 135 Minutes 44 Secs. Language: Italian
Sills at her best....August 6, 2014By Rory R. (Winnipeg, MB)See All My Reviews"What a joy to hear again what might be arguably the finest recording Beverly Sills ever made. At the height of her vocal and dramatic powers, her Elizabeth is a wonder of control, beauty of voice, and glittering technique. The rest of the cast is effective, and was Beverly Wolff somewhat underrated? This performance as Sara shows she might have been. Mackerras leads incisively, supporting the drama and singers at every point, from the great overture on. Sills said she sang this role too often, and it shortened her career; fortunately this recording captures her when she sang it best."Report Abuse
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