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Gluck: Alceste / Gui, Gencer, Picchi, Rome Opera, Et Al

Release Date: 07/02/2002 
Label:  Opera D'oro   Catalog #: 1356   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck
Performer:  Leyla GencerRenza JottiMaurizio PiacenteAttilio D'Orazi,   ... 
Conductor:  Vittorio Gui
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House OrchestraRome Opera House Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is an odd souvenir, in pretty good sound, of a performance of Gluck's Alceste from Rome in 1967. It seems to be the same edition used in the (pirated) Callas performance from '54; it is sung in Italian as well. The whole performance is what might be called non-Gluckian (it bears little resemblance to Ostman's very Classical approach to the French version on Naxos): these are red-blooded Italianate singers who play up the personal-tragedy angle rather than the gods-are-angry-isn't-fate-something angle. In other words, these singers and conductor Vittorio Gui turn Alceste into an Italian opera. Arguably there's enough here to make the argument--a loving couple torn apart by fate, weeping choruses and handmaidens, etc.--and as we get it, Read more it's pretty passionate stuff.

The focal point of course is the title role, and always-strange-and-interesting Leyla Gencer is those things and more here: her grief and love are palpable, her pianissimos float beautifully, and her chest voice practically disturbs with its ferocity. She makes quite a meal of her big aria and the hysteria at the close of Act 2 ( with some great, asthmatic sobbing). It also has to be said that her glottal attacks, hot-blooded theatrics, and uneven registers can be jarring. Tenor Mirto Picchi is a passionate will-he-live-or-won't-he Admetus, and the role sits in precisely the part of his voice that's best for exclamatory singing. The rest of the cast is good enough, the chorus can be a bit ragged, stage movements occasionally can be heard (as can a prompter), and the Rome Orchestra thinks it's playing Verdi. This is a bargain release, and an oddly pleasing one. Gluck may not have approved of the overt emotionalism presented here (when Gencer laments, watch out!), but seen as a performance unto itself, it's very exciting.

--Robert Levine,
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Works on This Recording

Alceste by Christoph W. Gluck
Performer:  Leyla Gencer (Soprano), Renza Jotti (Soprano), Maurizio Piacente (Bass),
Attilio D'Orazi (Baritone), Giuseppe Baratti (Tenor), Luigi Roni (Bass),
Lidia Nerozzi (Soprano), Guido Guarneri (Baritone), Mirto Picchi (Tenor),
Fernanda Cadoni (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Vittorio Gui
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1767; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 03/07/1967 
Venue:  Live  Rome, Italy 
Length: 133 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Language: Italian 

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