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Notes and Editorial Reviews
...[I]t says much for Joan Sutherland's powers as a tragic actress that in the same register as Sills she conveys a character far weightier and more intense, a genuinely tragic queen.
...The text of [this recording] is even more complicated to analyse since it is a conflation of various sources prepared by the conductor, Richard Bonynge... The Overture (dramatically unnecessary) is omitted..., and he cuts over half the first chorus including some very attractive 6/8 material. Though, again, broadly the text follows the Gerard edition, tiny linking motifs are omitted at many points, and many of the cabalettas and final ensembles are significantly shortened in the way that used to be common. Though you could argue that no
substantial music is omitted (most of the cuts consisting of conventional coda material) it is a pity that such a fine cabaletta as that which ends the trio for Elizabeth, Leicester and Cecil in Act 3 could not be given its full length, so exuberantly dramatic is the performance here. There are other examples, too, that I regret, though when Donizetti himself seems to have countenanced all kinds of butchery on the score, there is no reason to be ultra-purist about it.
Bonynge also sanctions a number of transpositions, his aim seemingly to underline the contrast between a big soprano Maria Stuarda and a darkly contralto Elisabetta. Elisabetta's first aria for example is transposed down from G to F sharp, the intervening ensemble comes back to G before the cabaletta goes down to F sharp again, all rather fussy and presumably intended to bring out the darkest possible tones from Huguettc Tourangeau's voice. Repeatedly Tourangeau is encouraged to take a lower option, often transposing down an octave so that her tacky chest register can bray forth. The actual sentence of death on the cry "Mora" in Elisabetta's scene with Cecil in Act 3 is hairraising, when it goes down so resonantly to B flat below the stave. Throughout the roles of both queens the actual melodic lines are drastically rewritten, if very much in a way that is fully authentic... Needless to say Pavarotti as Leicester ends arias and ensembles on top notes not actually written, including a superb D flat alongside Sutherland at the end of Maria and Leicester's big duet in Act 2.
...Bonynge seems intent on creating a stage performance in the Italian tradition. ...Tourangeau, with her voice sounding more incisive than I remember before on record, conveys a portrait of meanness, a villainess of a queen—which after all ties up with the libretto... Pavarotti ardently turns [Leicester] into a passionate Italian lover in a more conventional but ripely satisfying operatic mould... [A]n enjoyable set...
-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone [6/1976]
reviewing the original LP release of this recording
Works on This Recording
Maria Stuarda by Gaetano Donizetti
Dame Joan Sutherland (Soprano),
Luciano Pavarotti (Tenor),
Roger Soyer (Baritone),
James Morris (Bass Baritone),
Margreta Elkins (Mezzo Soprano),
Huguette Tourangeau (Mezzo Soprano)
Bologna Teatro Comunale Chorus,
Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra
Written: 1835; Italy
Date of Recording: 1975
Length: 122 Minutes 50 Secs.
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
fine singing but shows its age January 16, 2013
By K. McLaughlin (New York, NY) See All My Reviews
"Though there is much beautiful singing on this CD, the edition used bares little resemblance to the recent scholarly edition, with sometimes confusing cuts and re-ordering of numbers. The style seems quite old-fashioned - sedate in fact - in comparison to the dramatically realized performances currently in vogue. Nonetheless, the recording is worth having for the performances of Sutherland and Pavarotti in their vocal primes."