This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
It was Maria Callas who, with Franco Zeffirelli, helped restore this sophisticated—delectable but faintly disturbing—dramma buffo to the stage of La Scala, Milan in the mid 1950s after an earlier run with Callas as Fiorilla in a production, partly sponsored by Luchino Visconti, at Rome's tiny Eliseo Theatre. "Our Turco was so refreshing, so lovely", claimed Zeffirelli. "From the beginning Maria knew it was going to be a hit." And yet he had to work hard to bring out on the stage the comedienne in Callas, that quality which was later to irradiate, on record, her Rosina and, in a more savage dimension, her Carmen.
The set contains some classic things, above all in Callas's several confrontations with her
Selim, the wonderfully grave Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, and her ageing husband, Geronio, sung here with all the right hang-dog inflexions by France Calabrese. The hilarious duet with Geronio in Act I is a locus classicus of Callas's art, an extensive array of bel canto rhetoric lined up ready to be deployed with surgical precision. These fleeting appropriations of the classical tragic style are used by Rossini with an understated comic relish that Callas perfectly comprehends.
The cast Walter Legge assembled in August 1954 for the recording was more or less the cast that went into La Scala the following April. Casting the veteran Mariano Stabile as the Poet was a stroke of genius; and Legge had the additional advantage of being able to use the young Nicolai Gedda as Narciso. (Valletti sang the role in Milan.) He also, with his customary genius, managed to create a sense of genuine ensemble. Indeed, it is the special glory of this recording of!! turco in Italia that it allows us to hear Callas at her idiosyncratic best not as some dominating central presence but as part of a finely-honed team.
The engineers have worked miracles with the sound. Early LP pressings were dull and dry but the remasterings for CD have a presence and, almost, a brilliance that perfectly complement the exceptionally subtle and spirited performance. If you want Rossini's Urtext you will have to seek out the CBS recording with Caballé; but if you want two hours of the purest delight, then you need look no further than this EMI reissue.
-- Gramophone [12/1987]
Works on This Recording
Il turco in Italia by Gioachino Rossini
Maria Callas (Soprano),
Nicola Rossi-Lemeni (Bass),
Nicolai Gedda (Tenor),
Mariano Stabile (Baritone),
Franco Calabrese (Bass),
Jolanda Gardino (Soprano),
Piero de Palma (Tenor)
Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,
Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Written: 1814; Italy
Date of Recording: 1954
Venue: La Scala Theater, Milan, Italy
Length: 112 Minutes 48 Secs.
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