Recordings & Reviews ............................. [from Elisabetta ... to La Falena]


from Elisabetta ... to La Falena]

Elisabetta, Regina d’Inghilterra [Live]


Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Massimo di Palermo
Nino Sanzogno
Leyla Gencer (Elisabetta); Umberto Grilli (Leicester); Sylvia Geszty (Matilde); Pietro Bottazzo (Norfolk); Wilma Borelli (Enrico); Glauco Scarlini (Guglielmo)
Myto – 2 CDs


ROSSINI Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra (complete)1; Excerpts2. • Nino Sanzogno, conductor; Leyla Gencer, soprano (Elisabetta); Umberto Grilli, tenor (Leicester); Pietro Bottazzo, tenor (Norfolk); Sylvia Geszty, soprano (Matilde); Chorus & Orchestra of the Teatro Massimo di Palermo; Alfredo Simonetto, conductor; Maria Vitale, soprano (Elisabetta); Lina Pagliughi, soprano (Matilde); Antonio Pirino, tenor (Norfolk); Giuseppe Campora, tenor (Leicester); Chorus & Orchestra of RAI, Milan. • MYTO 2 MCD 905.30 [ADD]; two discs, 77:52, 77:27. (Distributed by Qualiton.) 1 LIVE performance: November 23, 1970. LIVE performance: Aprii 27, 19532. 

This is a welcome release. At the moment, only one other recording of this, Rossini's first opera for Naples (and a doozy at that), is available, and that is the complete set from which the excerpts with Vitale, Pagliughi, et al. are taken. While Vitale is exciting, it isn't very stylish, and gives little pleasure. The Caballé-Carreras performance on Philips hasn't been reissued, and neither has a once available Gencer pirate from '71, I believe. This recording was made during an open dress rehearsal; a strike caused the performances to be postponed until the following year. 

This may be Gencer's greatest role. Elisabetta (bearing a resemblance to the real first Elisabeth of England only in nobility and capacity for anger—the plot here is totally fictitious) is a demanding role, filled with alternating rage and tenderness, and Gencer holds nothing back. It's a perfect intro to her minuses and pluses for the beginner. The hollowness is there, as is the unsupported mid-voice, but so are the blazing top notes, the agility, the disembodied pianissimi, and the constancy of purpose. Her voice is the exact weight for the role, and she gives us the fury as well as the sweetness. Those who have never heard her teeny-weeny embellishments to “Bell'alme generose” are in for a treat. 

The two tenors—always a problem in such florid music (Rossini wrote out the embellishments for this opera to stop singers from taking advantage) are acceptable for the period. Bottazzo is suavely sinister as Norfolk and Grilli handles Leicester's more heroic vocal line with energy—if just a bit too much noise. Sylvia Geszty, a fine Zerbinetta and Queen of the Night who mysteriously disappeared from the operatic scene, is a musical Matilde, singing rings around the recorded competition. The little roles are sufficiently filled and orchestra and chorus are dependable. 

Nino Sanzogno leads an exciting, pre-Rossini-enlightenment reading, although I don't like the cuts of the Matilde-Elisabetta duet in act I or the Norfolk-Leicester duet in act II. The other cuts are small and internal. The sound somewhat sabotages the proceedings—beware: act I, particularly, favors the orchestra (the mike must have been in front of the trumpets) to the severe detriment of the singers; act II is a bit improved. As hinted at above, the bonus is no real prize, although Vitale is better than expected without entertaining the way Gencer does, and Pagliughi is chirpy. Booklet with (sufficient) cueing points, essay and Italian only libretto. I like this despite its problems. Gencer is something else. 


Recordings of Elisabetta regina d'Inghilterra by Gioacchino Rossini are surveyed in the following publications:
CELLETTI p.720; PENGUIN p.360; GIUDICI p.697 (2) p.1165
This recording is reviewed in the following publication:
Opera News – March 1999 p.84 [GJ]

Comments: Recording of a dress rehearsal at Palermo (23 November 1970). The scheduled performances this season were canceled because of a strike



Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Massimo di Palermo
Nino Sanzogno
Leyla Gencer (Elisabetta); Umberto Grilli (Leicester); Margherita Guglielmi (Matilde); Pietro Bottazzo (Norfolk); Giovanna Vighi (Enrico); Giampaolo Corradi (Guglielmo)

Opera Depot – 2 CDs


Recordings of Elisabetta regina d'Inghilterra by Gioacchino Rossini are surveyed in the following publications:
CELLETTI p.720; PENGUIN p.360; GIUDICI p.697 (2) p.1165


04.09.1972 or 09.09.1972 ELISABETTA, REGINA d’INGHILTERRA
Edinburgh International Festival Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Massimo di Palermo
Nino Sanzogno (04.09) or Giocomo Zani (09.09)

Leyla Gencer (Elisabetta); Umberto Grilli (Leicester); Sylvia Geszty (Matilde); Pietro Bottazzo (Norfolk); Wilma Borelli (Enrico); Glauco Scarlini (Guglielmo)
House of Opera – 2 CDs

Ernani [Live]

03.09.1968 ERNANI
Coro del ABAO di Bilbao, Orchestra di Bilbao
Festival di Oviedo
Manno Wolf-Ferrari

Leyla Gencer (Elvira); Gianfranco Cecchele (Ernani); Giuseppe Taddei (Don Carlo); Ruggero Raimondi (Don Ruy Gomez de Siva); Mario Guggia (Don Riccardo); Gino Belloni (Jago); Silvana Costa (Giovanna)
Opera Depot – 2 CDs


VERDI Ernani. BELLINI Norma: Excerpts2. Ernani. • Manno Wolf-Ferrari, conductor; Leyla Gencer, soprano (Elvira); Gianfranco Checchele, tenor (Ernani); Giuseppe Taddei, baritone (Carlo); Ruggero Raimondi, bass (Silva); Orchestra, ABAO Chorus of Bilbao; Bruno Bartoletti, cond; Leyla Gencer, soprano (Norma); Adriana Lazzarini, mezzo-soprano (Adalgisa); Orchestra of the Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires. • GIUSEPPE DI STEFANO GDS 21031 [AAD]; two discs: 66:55, 58:47. (Distributed by Qualiton.) LIVE performance: Oviedo Festival; September 3, 19681. LIVE performance: July 12, 19642.
BELLINI Norma: Oh rimembranza; Deh, con te lie prendi... Mira, o Norma.

I expounded at some length about Ernani—the opera and various recordings—in the very last issue; this new release from Giuseppe Di Stefano follows hard upon. The Turkish soprano Leyla Gencer—a stimulating, quirky, unpredictable artist—and stalwart Italian baritone Giuseppe Taddei are the drawing-cards here; unfortunately, in neither case were my hopes fulfilled. Gencer's opening scene isn't entirely comfortable—there's a certain amount of underpitch singing in the aria, and the fioritura at the end is pushed and rhythmically insecure. The cabaletta is better, despite some ill-tuned high notes and guttural scooping (a trademark effect that figures prominently also in act IV). Better still, in her duet with Carlo, she makes telling use of chest voice (another signature), and of the dotted rhythms so prominent throughout Verdi's score. But in act II her timbre turns markedly sour during her duet with Ernani (she and Checchele are both out of tune by the time it's over), and she later comes to grief in act III (at “Ah! signor, se t'è concesso. . .”), where, scrambling to stay in place and seemingly short of breath, she misses her reentrance after Carlo's interjection and ends up vocalizing wordlessly until her last few syllables. In act IV she caps the final trio with an interpolated, dead-on high D, to the clear delight of the audience, but to no musical or dramatic purpose whatsoever. In sum, a performance of interest only to Gencer devotees. (Attention, newcomers: Robert Levine [Fanfare] provides thoughtful comments about this soprano in Fanfare 12:2, November/December 1988, in his reviews of four Donizetti portrayals on Hunt.) Taddei offers a generalized Carlo, displaying a high degree of rhythmic imprecision, a monochromatic “Oh de' verd'anni miei,” and an ineffective “O sommo Carlo.” Tenor Checchele can sing tolerably but lacks dramatic presence and vocal staying power; his intonation ultimately goes-away, especially when he tries to moderate his volume, and his death scene makes no effect whatsoever. (Some sort of buzzer goes off between his final cries of Elvira's name; his time is obviously up.) Aside from a misplaced entrance at one point in act II, Raimondi provides a solidly sung Silva, but since he sounds younger than Taddei, the dramatic balance isn't convincing. The erratic conducting is marked by a singular lack of coordination between stage and pit; the orchestral playing is sloppy, the chorus terrible; numerous standard cuts are taken (including Suva's cabaletta); and the audience often seems unsure of whether or not to applaud. The sound is harsh; the overall perspective, plus fluctuations in pitch and volume, bear witness to a hand-held tape recorder; a few measures of music are lost here and there (including the opening drumroll). There are seventeen cueing points on the first disc and twelve on the second, with the break between acts II and III. An Italian-only libretto is provided, plus pictures of Gencer, Taddei, and, in living color as usual, Mr. Di Stefano. The Norma duets, from a 1964 broadcast, are well sung, but don't leave much of an impression beyond that.

My first-choice Ernani remains the 1956 Mitropoulos-led Met broadcast, with Milanov, del Monaco, Warren, and Siepi, which made just as strong an impression on my recently acquired Foyer CDs as it did on borrowed Foyer LPs the last time 'round. Once past a weak first act, Muti's Scala performance on EMI, with Domingo, Freni, Bruson, and Ghiaurov, is an otherwise good bet in digital sound.  


Recordings of Ernani by Giuseppe Verdi are surveyed in the following publications:
HARRIS p.99; CELLETTI p.880; Opera on CD (1) p.45 (2) p.52 (3) p.57; MET p.570; MET(VID) p.350; PENGUIN p.477 GIUDICI p.867 (2) p.1414; Opéra International No.222 mars 1998 p.54, No.265 février 2002 p.22
This recording is reviewed in the following publication:
Fanfare - Vol.14 No.5 May/June 1991 pp.309-310 [MM]


15.01.1972 ERNANI
Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Massimo Bellini di Catania
Gianandrea Gavazzeni
Carlo Bergonzi (Ernani); Leyla Gencer (Elvira); Piero Cappuccilli (Don Carlo); Ruggero Raimondi (Don Ruy Gomez de Silva); Licia Galvano (Giovanna); Nino Valori (Riccardo); Alessandro Cassis (Iago)

Arkadia – 2 CDs


Recordings of Ernani by Giuseppe Verdi are surveyed in the following publications:
HARRIS p.99; CELLETTI p.880; Opera on CD (1) p.45 (2) p.52 (3) p.57; MET p.570; MET(VID) p.350; PENGUIN p.477 GIUDICI p.867 (2) p.1414; Opéra International No.222 mars 1998 p.54, No.265 février 2002 p.22
This recording is reviewed in the following publications:
Diapason - No.429 septembre 1996 p.150
L'opera (Milano) - Anno X N.93 Gennaio 1996 p.88
Ópera Actual (Barcelona) - No.20 junio-agosto 1997 p.68 [MC]


Francesca da Rimini [Live]

Orchestra e Coro della Fondazione del Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi, Trieste
Franco Capuana
Leyla Gencer (Francesca); Anselmo Colzani (Giovanni lo Sciancato); Paolo Coni (Paolo il Bello); Mario Ferrara (Malatestino dall'Occhio); Anna Gasparini (Samaritana); Enzo Viaro (Ostasio); Silvana Alessio Martinelli (Biancofiore); Liliana Hussu (Garsenda); Rita Comin (Altchiara); Bruna Ronchini (Imelda); Rosa Laghezza (La Schiava Smaragdi); Claudio Giombi (Il Giullare); Raimondo Botteghelli (Il Balestrier); Ennio Mucchiuti (Il Torrigiano)

Arkadia – 2 CDs


ZANDONAI Francesca da Rimini. • Franco Capuana, conductor; Leyla Gencer, soprano (Francesca); Renato Cioni, tenor (Paolo); Anselmo Colzani, baritone (Gianciotto); Coro e Orchestra del Teatro Comunale G. Verdi di Trieste. • ARKADIA CDHP 597.2 [AAD]; two discs: 69:02, 69:37. (Distributed by Oualiton.) LIVE performance: Trieste; March 16, 1961.

Francesca da Rimini, Zandonai's most famous opera, has had only one commercial recording (Cetra, 1952), and it's forty years old. The 1984 Met revival was well received but didn't spur any action in the studios, so we've had to depend on the pirate companies for alternatives to the Cetra set. The best of these is probably Standing Room Only 840 (from Lyric Distribution), which preserves a 1973 performance with Kabaivanska, Domingo, and Manuguerra, conducted by Eve Queler. (It's circulated on other labels as well over the years.) In Fanfare 11:4, Henry Fogel [Fanfare] praised a 1976 Radio France account on Rodolphe 32492 with Ligabue, Bondino, and Protti. (I haven't heard it.) He was less enthusiastic about the 1961 Trieste Francesca, though he had kind words for Leyla Gencer. The Trieste performance is now making its first appearance on CD, and I agree with Fogel's evaluation of it, though the sound seems to have undergone some improvement. Capuana is a dull conductor, and Cioni is a monotonous Paolo, in over his head. Colzani's Gianciotto is potent, but the only reason for acquiring the recording is Gencer's Francesca. I wish her voice were voluptuous enough to do justice to the character we remember from Book 5 of the Inferno. Dante, touring the second circle of Hell, was so overwhelmed by her passionate effusions that he fainted. D'Annunzio, the librettist of the opera, doesn't draw her quite so vividly, so we should probably be content with Gencer's portrayal. She has a few ungainly moments, but she also has passion and temperament to spare, and she makes a persuasive, sympathetic heroine. 

We could still use a good studio recording. Zandonai was no Puccini, and his score for Francesca (first performed in 1914) hasn't any surefire set pieces to win audiences over. It's composed in a sophisticated late-Romantic style that puts much of the expressive burden on the orchestra. The vocal lines are graceful; they delineate the characters and tell the story; but they don't flower often enough into long melodies. Francesca, more than Tosca or even Turandot, really needs to be seen on stage; so I recommend the Met video, with Scotto and Domingo (on cassette or laser disc), as the best introduction to the opera. The Arkadia recording is for Gencer fans and Zandonai fanatics only. It comes with an untranslated Italian libretto. My copy was missing several pages. 


Recordings of Francesca da Rimini by Riccardo Zandonai are surveyed in the following publications:
CELLETTI p.1181; MET p.752; MET(VID) p.455; PENGUIN p.572; GIUDICI p.1182 (2) p.1847
This recording is reviewed in the following publications:
Opera News - September 1994 p.60
Fanfare - Vol.17 No.4 March-April 1994 p.366
Répertoire - No.68 avril 1994 p.83





Gerusalemme [Live]

24.09.1963 GERUSALEMME
Orchestra e Coro del Grande Teatro La Fenice
Gianandrea Gavazzeni
Jaume Aragall (Gastone); Leyla Gencer (Elena); Giangiacomo Guelfi (Conte di Tolosa); Bruno Marangoni (Ruggero); Antonio Zerbini (Adhemar de Monteil); Franco Ghitti (Raimondo Bidebent); Mirella Fiorentini (Isaura); Alessandro Maddalena (Emiro di Ramala); Ottorino Begali (un ufficiale dell'Emiro); Alessandro Maddalena (un soldato); Virgilio Carbonari (un araldo)

Verona – 2 CDs


VERDI Jérusalem. • Gianandrea Gavazzeni, conductor; Leyla Gencer, soprano (Elena); Giacomo Aragall, tenor (Gastone); Gian Giacomo Guelfi, baritone (Ruggero); Chorus & Orchestra of Teatro la Fenice. • VERONA 27040/41 [AAD]; two monaural discs: 60:58, 65:00. (Distributed by Allegro.) LIVE performance: Venice; September 24, 1963.  

In 1843 Verdi wrote I Lombardi alla prima crociata, a work of grandeur, energy, and substantial melodic beauty despite dramatic crudities and inconsistencies. It was a success in Italy and helped to enhance the composer's reputation. In the summer of 1847 Verdi was approached by the Paris Opera to write a work for their coming fall season. He refused because of the shortness of the time, agreeing instead to revise I Lombardi for the French. The result was Jérusalem. 

Most observers agree that the original remains superior to its revision. Verdi maintained the basic dramatic shape, changing Lombard Crusaders to French Crusaders and altering much dramatic detail. A ballet, of course, was added. Most of the music from I Lombardi was retained, often moved around in the score and modified. The Overture is different, and there are other new pieces as well, though none are on a par with the best Verdi writing from this period. Jérusalem is, in short, a hodgepodge. 

There is little reason to present Jérusalem today except to satisfy curiosity and fill out our knowledge of Verdi, in which case presenting it in Italian as Gerusalemme with many cuts, as it is here, makes little sense. If we want to hear this work at all, it is to see how Verdi responded to the challenge from Paris and how he adapted his music to the language and the style of the Opera there. What we have here is the French work turned back into an Italian opera, resulting in nothing but a diluted I Lombardi. 

Leyla Gencer is the principal justification for this set. Her patented floated soft high notes, her generosity of phrasing, and the intensity of her singing are unique. The other argument for preservation of this performance is Guelfi's ringing baritone. He is at his best, which means an imposing vocal presence. Aragall's monochromatic tenor is occasionally under the pitch, and the other singers are nothing special, nothing awful. 

Gavazzeni brings a lyrical impulse and energy to the score, and the orchestral and choral contribution is strong. The sound is curious: one gets the impression that the mike was near the pit because the orchestra registers with more presence than the singers. The orchestral perspective is therefore rather close (and somewhat dry), whereas singers vary depending on their position on the stage. While that is less than ideal, the sound doesn't get in the way, and one must note its clarity and lack of distortion. Verona supplies an Italian-only libretto, no notes, and seventeen tracks for the opera (which is sufficient). I received four Verona releases for review this month, and every one of them lists the total time of their discs incorrectly (always about two minutes too much), even though the individual track times are correctly listed.

This same performance is available on Melodram 27004, and there is no discernible difference between them in sound, or in production values. I am unfamiliar with any other recording of Jérusalem, in French or Italian (although no doubt a Fanfare reader will bring me up short with a list!). For most collectors, the advice here is to purchase I Lombardi instead, preferably on Hungaroton (HCD-12498-500); in Fanfare 8:1 I explain my preference for that set over the Philips. Complete Verdi collectors, or Gencer fans, will find this of value as well. 


VERDI Jérusalem. • Leyla Gencer, soprano (Elena); Giacomo Aragall, tenor (Gastone); Emilio Savoldi, baritone; Gian Giacomo Guelfi, baritone (Ruggero); Chorus & Orchestra of La Fenice, Venice, conducted by Gianandrea Gavazzeni. • MELODRAM MEL 163 (three discs, mono), $32.94 [distributed by German News]. 

Early in 1847, Verdi was commissioned to write an opera for Paris. With insufficient time to start from scratch, he decided to rework one of his earlier operas, Í Lombardi alla príma cruciate, retaining the crusades setting and certain elements of the plot, using a lot of the earlier opera's music. The result was Jérusalem, which earned Verdi a considerable sum of money and membership in the French Legion of Honor but eventually fell upon hard times and virtually disappeared from the repertory. According to Charles Osborne (in The Complete Operas of Verdi), its first 20th-century revival took place in Venice in 1963. 

That is the performance presented here on three Melodram discs, recorded September 24, 1963. The sound is of respectable quality, good enough to have been taped off the air instead of in the theater. The performance, of the rough-and-ready sort, with cuts in the first three acts, (and sung in Italian) will have to do for now—Jérusalem is the one Verdi opera that has never been commercially recorded. 

For the benefit of the curious, here's a digest of the plot (Melodram's album contains nothing but records): The Count of Toulouse, trying to end an old feud, offers his daughter, Elena (I'm using the Italian names), in marriage to Gastone, the Viscount of Beam, before leaving for the crusades. The Count's brother, Ruggero, who is in love with Elena, hires a merecenary to kill Gastone. Unfortunately, he wounds the Count by mistake but is able to convince the Count's followers that he saw Gastone do it. The latter is banished and Ruggero is struck by a guilty conscience, becomes a hermit, and wanders the deserts of Palestine seeking to expiate his sin. The banished Gastone has also made his way to Palestine and is a prisoner of the Emir of Ramla. Elena, who has accompanied her father to the crusades, hears about Gas-tone's fate and, believing him innocent, visits him. Their escape attempt fails but Gastone is eventually captured by the crusaders and Elena, held as a hostage, is eventually freed. Evidently the crusaders think Gastone was in league with the infidels because they decide to execute him. As they prepare to battle for Jerusalem, Ruggero, in his disguise as a holy hermit, is sent to Gastone's cell to provide consolation in the condemned man's last moments. Instead, he provides Gastone with a sword and armor and both rush off to the battle. The crusaders win. The Count of Toulouse wishes to know the identity of the mysterious knight who has played such a prominent role in his victory only to find that it is the “traitor,” Gastone, whose innocence is finally attested to by Ruggero, who has been mortally wounded in the fighting, and revealing his true identity, confesses his guilt. 

The Elena, Leyla Gencer, an enthusiastic attacker of high notes, is a powerful, if crude, singer with enough agility to get through her part with minimal embarrassment—she's the one member of the cast who provides some vocal excitment. Giacomo Aragall has the brilliant top notes required for Gastone, but his singing is pushy and choppy. The Ruggero, Gian Giacomo Guelfi, a baritone singing a bass role, exhibits his usual power on top (also his usual sloppiness) but is less imposing down below. Emilio Savoldi, singing the nominal “lead” baritone role, the Count of Touoise, is competent but muffled.

Verdi was satisfied with his work, and why not? Jérusalem (at least in the streamlined Italian version) is a fast-moving effective opera in the early Verdi manner—certainly more than just an interesting specimen of musical recycling. Since this is the only recording, I know of, I'll recommend it until something better comes along.


Recordings of Jérusaleme [Gerusaleme] by Giuseppe Verdi are surveyed in the following publications:
CELLETTI p.927; Opéra International No.67 février 1984 p.17
This recording is reviewed in the following publications:
Opera Quarterly - Vol.4 No.2 Summer 1986 pp.138-142 [DAF]
American Record Guide - January/February 1996 Vol.59 No.1 p.191
CD COMPACT (Barcelona) - No.84 enero 1996 pp.38-39


1990 November

10.01.1964 GERUSALEMME
Orchestra e Coro del Grande Teatro La Fenice
Gianandrea Gavazzeni
Jaume Aragall (Gastone); Leyla Gencer (Elena); Giangiacomo Guelfi (Conte di Tolosa); Bruno Marangoni (Ruggero); Antonio Zerbini (Adhemar de Monteil); Franco Ghitti (Raimondo Bidebent); Mirella Fiorentini (Isaura); Alessandro Maddalena (Emiro di Ramala); Ottorino Begali (un ufficiale dell'Emiro); Alessandro Maddalena (un soldato); Virgilio Carbonari (un araldo)

Mondo Musica – 2 CDs


Recordings of Jérusaleme [Gerusaleme] by Giuseppe Verdi are surveyed in the following publications:
CELLETTI p.927; Opéra International No.67 février 1984 p.17
This recording is reviewed in the following publications:
Orpheus - 11 November (Festivals 2000) 2000 S.89 [[GH]
Opéra International - No.255 mars 2001 pp.170-171 [SS]
Ópera Actual (Barcelona) - No.41 septiembre-octubre 2000 p.96 [LB]
CD COMPACT (Barcelona) - octubre 2000 No.136 p.66 [SV]


Giuseppe Verdi - Gerusalemme
For oppførelse i Milano 1850 ble den franske Jerusalem omarbeidet til en italienskspråklig Gerusalemme. Heller ikke her hadde den synlig suksess.

Det er mer av den modne Verdi i Jerusalem/Gerusalemme-versjonen, og den er preget av en mer velkalkulert scenisk effektivitet. Det er allikevel I Lombardi som gir oss den unge spontane Verdi, og derfor ser det ut til at operahusene er blitt hengende ved denne ”første” versjonen.

Det er mer av den modne Verdi i Jerusalem/Gerusalemme-versjonen, og den er preget av en mer velkalkulert scenisk effektivitet. Det er allikevel I Lombardi som gir oss den unge spontane Verdi, og derfor ser det ut til at operahusene er blitt hengende ved denne ”første” versjonen.

Grammofonen byr oss på det privilegium å kunne få høre alle tre. Fra Gerusalemme har vi hentet Ave Maria - Cielo pietoso, og den mektige finalen.

Gerusalemme: Cielo pietoso (1.akt)
Gerusalemme: Non isperar (4.akt)

Elene:…..Leyla Gencer
Gastone:…..Giacomo Aragall
Isaura:…..Mirella Fiorentini
Ruggero:…..Gien Giacomo Guelfi
Conte:…..Emilio Salvoldi
Orkester og kor ved La Fenice di Venezia
Gianandrea Gavazzeni, dirigent

14.05.1965 GERUSALEMME
Bayerisches Staatsopern, München
Orchestra e Coro del Grande Teatro La Fenice
Ettore Gracis
Jaume Aragall (Gastone); Leyla Gencer (Elena); Renato Bruson (Conte di Tolosa); Ruggero Raimondi (Ruggero); Aida Meneghelli (Isaura); Massimilliano Malaspina (Ademaro de Monte); Veriano Luchetti (Raimondo); Alessandro Maddalena (L’Emiro di Ramala)

Golden Melodram – 2 CDs


Recordings of Jérusaleme [Gerusaleme] by Giuseppe Verdi are surveyed in the following publications:
CELLETTI p.927; Opéra International No.67 février 1984 p.17
This recording is reviewed in the following publication:
Ópera Actual (Barcelona) - No.90 mayo 2006 p.86 [PN]

Comments: Recording of a performance given by the company of the Teatro La Fenice in Munich (14 May 1965). The cast and conductor listed above are those given in «Il Teatro La Fenice - Cronologia degli Spettacoli 1938-1991» p.198

Guglielmo Tell [Live]


Orchestra e Coro del Teatro di San Carlo di Napoli
Fernando Previtali
Giangiacomo Guelfi (Guglielmo Tell); Leyla Gencer (Matilde); Gianni Raimondi (Arrigo); Anna-Maria Rota (Edwige); Paolo Washington (Walter Furst); Bruno Marangoni (Melchthal); Enrico Campi (Gessler); Leyla Bersiani (Jemmy); Mario Guggia (Rodolfo); Silvano Pagliuca (Leutoldo); Pietro Bottazzo (un pescatore) Michele Lauro, maestro del coro

Gop – 3 CDs


Recordings of Guillaume Tell [Guglielmo Tell] by Gioacchino Rossini are surveyed in the following publications:
Opera on Record 3 p.41; CELLETTI p.724; Opera on CD (1) p.32 (2) p.36 (3) p.41 L'Avant Scène Opéra No.118 p.116; MET(VID) p.297; PENGUIN p.363; Opera on Video p.55; GIUDICI p.750 (2) p.1235



2006 September

I Dialoghi delle Carmelitane [Live]

World Premier
Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala
Nino Sanzogno

Scipio Colombo (Il marchese de la Force); Virginia Zeani (Bianca de la Force); Nicola Filacuridi (Il cavaliere de la Force); Gianna Pederzini (Madame de Croissy); Leyla Gencer (Madame Lidoine); Gigliola Frazzoni (Madre Maria); Vittoria Palombini (Madre Jeanne); Eugenia Ratti (Suora Costanza); Fiorenza Cossotto (Suora Matilde); Alvino Misciano (Il Cappellano); Antonio Pirino (il carceriere); Arturo la Porta (Primo commissario); Michele Cazzato (Secondo commissario); Armando Manelli (Thierry); Carlo Gasperini (Javelinot)

House of Opera – 2 CDs


Recordings of Dialogues des Carmélites by Francis Poulenc are surveyed in the following publications:
CELLETTI p.578; L'Avant Scène Opéra No.52 p.113; PENGUIN p.289; GIUDICI p.569; The Absolute Sound Issue 119 August/September 1999 pp.107-109
This recording is reviewed in the following publications:
Orpheus - März + April 2008 S.57 [KC]
Ópera Actual (Barcelona) - No.99 abril 2007 p.92 [JS]

I due Foscari [Live]

31.12.1957 I DUE FOSCARI
Orchestra e Coro del Grande Teatro La Fenice
Tullio Serafin
Giangiacomo Guelfi (Francesco Foscari); Mirto Picchi (Jacopo Foscari); Leyla Gencer (Lucrezia Contarini); Alessandro Maddalena (Jacopo Loredano); Ottorino Begali (Barbarigo); Marisa Salimbeni (Pisana); Augusto Veronese (un fante); Uberto Scaglione (un servo)

Bonus Tracks

Concerto Martini & Rossi
Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano della RAI
Alfredo Simonetto
Mozart Tutte le torture Il Ratto dal serraglio 
Verdi Pace, pace mio dio La forza del destino 
Puccini Senza mamma Suor Angelica 
Donizetti Ardon gli incensi Lucia di Lammermoor 
Arkadia – 2 CDs


VERDI I due Foscari. • Leyla Gencer, soprano (Lucrezia); Mirto Picchi, tenor (Jacopo Fosean); Gian Giacomo Guelfi, baritone; Alessandro Maddalena, bass (Loredano); Chorus & Orchestra of Teatro La Fenice, conducted by Tullio Serafin. • MELODRAM 465(2) (two discs, mono) [distributed by German News]. 

My first encounter with I due Foscari came in July 1958 when the Rome Opera presented a staged performance as part of its American tour. The evening I attended (not the same date as the performance issued on MRF-26) featured one of those moments you carry with you for years afterwards. At the conclusion of the gorgeous Act II duet between Jacopo Foscari and Lucrezia there was a prolonged, loud ovation. As it died down, one opera lover spoke for all of us by shouting “Viva Verdi.” That shout, in turn, received its own ovation, because it struck a resonance with everyone in the hall. The sheer beauty and consistency of invention in this opera that most of us had never heard before were striking proof of the genius of Verdi.

I've never had another opportunity to see Foscari but have come to know it well through recordings. Repeated rehearings have persuaded me that it stands near the top of Verdi's early operas, deserving of much more attention than it has received.

I due Foscari is a dramatically static opera: very little happens in the way of action. However, as exploration and illumination of character through music it is a remarkable work. There is an economy of means, and a consistency of melodic inspiration here, that is surprising given the early date of composition (1844). The libretto, based on Byron's “The Two Foscari,” calls for dark textures and music of more intimacy and less flamboyance than was the case with, say, Ernani, and Verdi delivered just what was required. If you do not know this work you should Temedy this situation immediately, for 1 cannot imagine anyone who responds to Italian opera not responding to I due Foscari. 

There are four performances which have achieved circulation. The one issued here by Melodram took place in December 1957 and has previously been available on Cetra LO 67. The Rome Opera 1968 New York production from 1968 issued by MRF features Renato Cioni, Luisa Maragliano., Mario Zanasi, and is led by Bruno Bartoletti. A 1951 Italian Radio performance with Maria Vitale, Gian Giacomo Guelfi, and Carlo Bergonzi, conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini, is available on Fonit Cetra LAR 21. In the late 1970s, Philips issued the only commercial recording, with José Carreras, Katia Ricciarelli, and Piero CappUccilli, with Lamberto Gardelli on the podium. 

All three of the live performances are marred by cuts. The Giulini performance suffers most: by cutting most cabaletta repeats he seriously changes the proportion of slow music to fast music in the opera, and Verdi's carefully thought-out contrasts are thrown askew. In addition, Giulini tends to conduct with an excess of languidness, thus further taking the spine out of the work. One of his cuts (the choral interjections at the end of the Act II Jacopo-Lucrezia duet) destroys one of the opera's most magical moments. In addition, Guelfi in 1951 is unformed in comparison with his 1957 performance, and Maria Vitale is thin-voiced and uninteresting. The presence of the young Bergonzi and some lovely touches from Giulini are not enough to rescue this set. 

When the Melodram set arrived it sparked a Foscari listening marathon. (Gratitude is due to Fanfare's Vincent Alfano for pointing me toward the Giulini issue; I only knew the performance from an old Italian radio tape). What is most important is that with each hearing of each of these four performances the opera continued to grow on me. 

Certainly, the Philips has, in addition to being complete, the advantage of modern stereophonic sound produced under studio conditions. In Carreras it has one of our generation's loveliest tenor voices captured in fairly good form, and a Verdi baritone whose sensibilities lean toward the kind of nobility required for the Doge of Venice. In addition, Samuel Ramey's Loredano is stunningly effective and conductor Gardelli knows how this music goes. Ricciarelli is not in very good voice, but by no means is she a chore to hear—just not as radiant and glowing as one would like. 

Despite my emotional attachment to the MRF (because of the memories of the actual production) it cannot compete with the Philips. The singers are too distantly miked to make much impact, and despite a distinguished portrayal by Zanasi and lovely phrases from Cioni when he is not pushing, the overall performance doesn't stand up. Like the Giulini it is marred by cuts, but they are fewer in number and more wisely chosen. 

I first encountered the 1957 performance under review here in its Cetra Live-Opera Series incarnation. At that time the harsh sound, extreme dynamic compression, and distortion caused such listener fatigue that I could not fairly judge the performance. Hearing it on Melodram, with far cleaner and more open sound, it becomes a pleasure. Despite the fact that Mirto Picchi does not possess vocal equipment half as beautiful as that of Carreras, he somehow conveys a sense of belief in this music, a sense of caring about the character, and an abandon missing in Carreras' more careful portrayal. Leyla Gencer is wonderful: this may be one of her finest performances to survive, and she far eclipses all competition. Guelfi, as others have noted in these pages, was the owner of one of opera's biggest baritone voices. On some days he had it under control, and on others he simply bellowed out something approximating a musical sound. Here he is on his best behavior and he sings with sweep, and a sense of commitment that is more effective than Cappuccilli's well thought out, but somewhat stilted characterization. 

Serafin, despite his cuts, is Serafin—the master of whom both Gardelli and Bartoletti are disciples. The energy he brings to this music, and at the same time the beauty of color he finds in this music, are in a world beyond that available to most Verdi conductors (and that includes the young Giulini on Fonit Cetra). The music moves forward in a constant flow. 

Logic would indicate recommending the Philips. It is complete, it has fine sound and a cast of very good singers. The Melodram has no booklet (Philips gives us an excellent essay by Julian Budden as well as a libretto). Because it is a live performance, the Melodram also has momentary ensemble bobbles, occasional out-of-tune singing (particularly by Guelfi), mildly dry 1950s broadcast sound, and those niggling little cuts. But the blood of Verdi courses through this performance, and it is the Melodram that I am mostly likely to pull down from the shelf when I want to hear Í due Foscari. Whichever one you obtain, it is strongly recommended that you add this opera to your collection if it is not already there.


Recordings of I due Foscari by Giuseppe Verdi are surveyed in the following publications:
CELLETTI p.877; PENGUIN p.476; Opera on CD (1) p.46 (2) p.58 (3) p.58; Opéra International No.184 octobre 1994 p.16: No.271 septembre 2002 p.20; MET(VID) p.355; GIUDICI p.874 (2) p.1422; Orpheus Mai 2001 S.66
This recording is reviewed in the following publications:
Opéra International - No.184 octobre 1994 p.80
Diapason - No.506 septembre 2003 p.118 [MP]
Répertoire - No.61 septembre 1993 p.80
Classica Répertoire - No.59 février 2004 p.118 [PT]

2003 April 

I Puritani [Live]


30.06.1961 I PURITANI
Orquesta y Coro Estables del Teatro Colon
Argeo Quadri
Leyla Gencer (Donna Elvira); Gianni Raimondi (Lord Arturo Talbot); Manuel Ausensi (Sir Riccardo Forth); Ferruccio Mazzoli (Sir Giorgio Valton); Mario Verazzi (Lord Gualtiero Valton); Humberto di Toto (Sir Bruno Roberton); Luisa Bartoletti (Enrichetta di Francia)

Myto – 2 CDs


BELLINI I Puritani: Excerpts. • Leyla Gencer, soprano (Elvira); Gianni Raimondi, tenor (Arturo); Manuel Ausensi, baritone (Riccardo); Ferruccio Mazzoli, bass (Giorgio); Chorus & Orchestra of Teatro Colon, conducted by Argeo Quadri. • RODOLPHE RP 12710 (mono), $11.98 [distributed by Harmonia Mundi USA]. 

What minimal value this might have as a performance is compromised further by its woolly, distant, muffled sound. I don't know the source of this recording of a 1961 live performance, but it sounds like it might have been made in the house rather than off a broadcast, and with the microphone wrapped in a blanket in order to disguise it! The result is the loss of the individual timbres of each voice, so that what we hear sounds like competent singing but from voices of no particular quality. Fans of Leyla Gencer will know that flaws and all, the Turkish soprano did have a distinctive and identifiable sound—but they would be hard pressed to identify her if this was put on a turntable for them. 

Through the dim sound, one does discern a performance that must have given some pleasure in the theatre, but that does not seem to merit preservation on disc. Gencer floats some lovely pianissimos, but she also breaks up Bellini's line with her glottal attacks and emotive excesses. The rest of the cast is adequate—no more and no less. Quadri keeps things going without any special insights or distinctive touches. No notes or texts. 


BELLINI I Puritani di Scozia. • Leyla Gencer, soprano (Elvira); Gianni Raimondi, tenor (Arturo); Manuel Ausensi, baritone (Riccardo); Ferruccio Mazzoli, bass (Giorgio); Chorus & Orchestra of Teatre Colón, Buenos Aires, conducted by Argeo Quadri. • FOYER FO 1024 (three discs, mono), $29.94 [distributed by German News]. 

This is the third Puritani “complete” I've been asked to review in about a year. Do record manufacturers perceive a demand for such, second only to that for Orfeo? The raison d'être of this particular issue is the Elvira of the Turco-Italian soprano, Gencer (“Queen of the Pirates” 0as she was once known—and woefully underrepresented on commercial releases), for her 1961 Colón appearances constitute her only assumption of the role for which her voice here sounds lighter and brighter than usual (deliberately so, I'm sure—her only other role that season was Gilda which requires a similar timbre). Only an occasional squally note offers the hint that she is vocally more suited to heavier roles and by temperament to more assertive characters, but she does bring to bear her accustomed dramatic involvement so that her Elvira is not just another “looney dame” (as Joan Sutherland once referred to the genre), with admittedly less attention to nuance than that displayed by her recorded competition. Raimondi is a mite more ungainly an Arturo than he was two years earlier opposite Moffo in the RAI concert performance (Melodram 025) reviewed in VILI, but he managed to devise a less tortuous path around the high F of “Credeasi misera” s second verse in the interim. (The D s remain secure.) An apt description of the rest of the cast is “decently serviceable” though I expected rather more from Ausensi in light of his London baritone aria recital (OS 25117) and his work on that label's shortlived zarzuela series. The chorus was obviously well drilled—more so, I suspect, than the soloists who, in the ensembles, display that sense of earnest doggedness which frequently implies underrehearsal. Their contributions to Elvira's “Polacca” are particularly lacking in confidence. 

Quadri's tempos are on the brisk side (especially in the opening atmosphere-laden pages), which suite me just fine but which may be objectionable to those who like their Bellini more mooningly soulful. He observes traditional cuts and eschews the Palermo cabaletta, a Bellini afterthought, which does, nevertheless, bring the opera to a less abrupt close (and gives the Elvira one last moment to shine). 

The liner gives the performance date as October 12, 1961. Is this right? According to my researches, a June or July date that year is more likely, and, at the risk of precipitating a Silber-Schwartz-type controversy, what was going on politically in Argentina at the time? Giorgio's line; “Patria, vittoria, onor” prompted cheers and applause which, by their timing, were obviously not merely meant as approbation for the singer. Clarification of either point, anyone? 

Surfaces are fine and sound generally O.K., though, since I confess to a greater tolerance for such than some of my colleagues when it comes to “pirates” some amplification in this regard may be in order. There is occasional echo and pre-echo, but not obtrusively so and during some of the quieter passages, I think I heard faint remnants of an imperfectly erased previous performance on the master tape, but this was noticeable only with headphones. 

I suspect Gencer fans remain the main market for this set even though her performance is not to be disdained by others. The recording, however, poses no threat to the commercial sets with (in order of preference) Caballé-Kraus-Muti or (tied for second place) Sutherland-Pavarotti-Bonynge and Callas-DiStefano-Serafin. No notes; Italian text only. 


Recordings of I puritani by Vincenzo Bellini are surveyed in the following publications:
Opera June 1960 p.387; August 1960 p.585; September 1960 p.653; HARRIS p.220; Opera on Record 2 p.121; CELLETTI p.63; Opera on CD (1) p.39 (2) p.45 (3) p.50; L'Avant Scène Opéra No.96 p.106; MET p.29; PENGUIN p.12; GIUDICI p.40 (2) p.74; American Record Guide September/October 2000 Vol.63 No.5 pp.73-83; Opéra International No.253 janvier 2001 p.10
This recording is reviewed in the following publications:
Opera Quarterly - Vol.17 No.3 Summer 2001 pp.576-585 [WA2]
Opéra International - décembre 1992 p.69
L'Avant Scène Opéra - No.151 p.104
American Record Guide - May/June 2005 Vol.68 No.3 pp.231-232 [MM]
Ópera Actual (Barcelona) - No.71 junio 2004 p.81 [TF]

Comments: Recording of a performance in the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires (12 July 1961 or/and 30 June 1961 (M. Richter, LIVE-rare-opera)); see OPERA October 1961 pp.649-650). The foyer LPs are advertized in GRAMOPHONE November 1983 p.670. According to the review in ARG the recording issued on the Living Stage label is of a performance on 12 October 1961, but this must be incorrect as I puritani was not performed in the Teatro Colón on that day. See the Teatro Colón website.

I Vespri Siciliani [Live]



Orchestra e Coro del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma
Gianandrea Gavazzeni
Giangiacomo Guelfi (Guido di Monforte); Franco Pugliese (Il sire di Bethune); Mario Borriello (Il Conte Vaudemont); Gastone Limarilli (Arrigo); Nicola Rossi-Lemeni (Giovanni da Procida); Leyla Gencer (La Duchessa Elana); Luciano Piccolo (Ninetta); Fernando Jacopucci (Danieli); Vittorio Pandano (Tebaldo); Paolo Mazzotta (Roberto); Athos Cesarini (Manfredo)
Meledram – 2 CDs


VERDI Les Vêpres siciliennes (sung in Italian as / vespri siciliani). • Gianandrea Gavazzeni, conductor; Leyla Gencer, soprano (Elena); Gastone Limarilli, tenor (Arrigo); Giangiacomo Guelfi, baritone (Guido di Monforte); Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, bass (Giovanni da Procidä); Chorus & Orchestra of the Teatro dell'Opera, Rome (Gianni Lazzari, chorus master). • MELODRAM MEL 27037 [AAD]; two monaural discs: 72:34, 76:02. (Distributed by Qualiton.) LIVE performance: December 5, 1964.

VERDI Stiffelio. Aroldo: Excerpts. • Peter Maag, conductor; Gastone Limarilli, tenor (Stiffelio); Angeles Gulin Domínguez, soprano (Lina); Walter Alberti, baritone (Stankar); Beniamino Prior, tenor (Raffaele); Antonio Zerbini, bass (Jörg); Chorus & Orchestra of the Teatro Reggio; Edgardo Egaddi, chorus master; Tullio Serafin, conductor; Gino Penno, tenor (Aroldo); Antonietta Stella, soprano (Mina); Aldo Protti, baritone (Egberto); Ugo Novelli, bass (Briano); Chorus & Orchestra of the Maggio musicale fiorentino. • MELODRAM MEL 27033 [AAD]; two monaural discs: 74:10, 62:45. LIVE performance: Parma, December 29, 1968. LIVE performance: Florence, June 3, 1953. 

These performances of Giuseppe Verdi's Stiffelio (1850) and I vespri siciliani (1854) from the 1960s provide pleasure on their own terms, but really do not compete with performances, whether recorded in studio or off the stage or airwaves, that have already appeared on records. Even the presence of two fine conductors among the assets does not improve their prospects, for the work of both orchestras undercuts the effort which those gentlemen seem to have been making to convey the vigor of scores dating from the verge (Stiffelio) of Verdi's swing into his “middle period” that began with Rigoletto, the opera which followed Stiffelio in the same year (1850), and from that period's floodtide (Vespri). In the case of Parma's forces, that comes as no surprise, but Rome's failings, perhaps the result of dull routine, are certainly cause for disappointment, especially when recalling the stream of satisfying studio opera recordings taped in Rome for release on RCA and Angel Records during the same period. Both conductors attempt to drive the music forward, despite their players' sloppiness, Gavazzeni in particular evincing the precision and forcefulness in articulating rhythms that tend to characterize his performances. 

Angeles Gulin is the only singer of major stature in the Parma performance of Stiffelio. Gulin is a soprano whose singing, at least as perpetuated on records, veers from the luster and potency of her Maddalena di Coigny in Umberto Giordano's Andrea Chénier (ANNA Record Co. ANNA-1010, n.l.a.) to the caterwauling of her Amazily in Gasparo Spontini's Fernand(o) Cortei (MRF Records MRF-104, also n.l.a.). As Lina, the protestant minister Stiffelio's erring wife, Gulin has full stride of the role, from the sweetness and lyricism of “Ah, dagli scanni eterei, dove beata siedi” to the many moments of dramatic power and vividness that the part offers. It is a marvel to hear her voice move from the girlishness and brilliance of tone (albeit spreading slightly under pressure) with which she begins to the darkening of hue, added weight, and richness into which it settles as Act One progresses. 

The rest of Parma's cast for Stiffelio sings acceptably, even pleasingly, but without rising to the full extent of the opportunities that Verdi provides. Gastone Limarilli's good qualities, the youthful freshness of his voice's timbre and his brilliance in the high register, do not quite fit the music. What is needed in this title role is a voice of more dramatic caliber, such as Mario Del Monaco's, heard on MRF Records' second recording (MRF-136, n.l.a.) under Oliviero de Fabritiis's direction and which, like the Melodram CD set here reviewed and MRF's earlier release of the performance with Limarilli in the title part, also features Gulin's Lina. Indeed, even Gino Penno, heard as Aroldo, the title role counterpart to Stiffelio in Verdi's revision of the opera, sounds like a dramatic tenor of major stature compared to Limarilli. (Antonietta Stella, as Mina, Verdi's retread of Lina, sings so radiantly in these highlights serving as “fillers” to Melodram's set of Stiffelio that she provides extra motivation to press for the release of the complete performance of Aroldo.) The Philips studio set of Stiffelio (6769039, Sass, Carreras, Manuguerra singing under Gardelli's direction), while falling short of the MRF-Del Monaco-Gulin “gold standard” in casting, has the advantage of the kind of musical tidiness that the studio provides, helping to make the most of Verdi's music; this recording cries out to be restored to the catalog in CD form. Returning to Melodram's Stiffelio under review, the remaining major roles are for men, taken by singers who perform pleasingly, but not memorably enough to stand above and apart, as Gulin does, from the mediocrity of the orchestral accompaniment supporting them. 

The horizon lies low for the Vespri rendition, too, for much the same reasons. Limarilli again sings the tenor lead; as heard (1964) four years earlier than in the Stiffelio outing (1968), his voice penetrates adequately through Verdi's orchestration but his Arrigo is too light and bright of timbre to convey the heroics convincingly, nor does Limarilli's singing have quite the steadiness this time that might compensate for the miscasting. Ley la Gencer's tone has a creaminess and darkly burnished hue that appeal greatly; offsetting those assets, and her strength in the upper reaches of the part, are a sluggishness in coloratura as well as a reliance too frequently on glottal stops to feign emotion. After a slow start, Nicola Rossi-Lemeni as Procida delivers some of the best singing that this listener has ever heard from him, the voice having more resonance and pliability than usual. Giangiacomo Guelfi is a baritone who always “delivers the goods” dramatically, although he is less reliable for musicianship; here he sings Monforte with much vigor, deploying his large voice with incisiveness of attack and richness of tone that more than recompense the occasions of haziness in pitch just sufficiently in evidence to impinge on the listener's awareness. 

The mono sound afforded both operas is acceptable. Those having the first of MRF Records' recordings of Stiff elio with Gulin (MRF-32) are assured that Melodram's digital sound resembles it more than differs therefrom. Prompters are audible, but most of the time just barely; the one prompting in Vespri occasionally can irritate, as in Monforte's “In braccio alle dovizie.” The balances in the Vespri set are odd at times, as well. Both sets come with librettos, in Italian only, but without annotations. 

Buyers seeking Stiff elio have little option at present to Melodram's set (or the same performance issued by Nuova Era as CD set 2284-2285). Those with patience would do well to prowl the used record bins to find the Philips studio LP set or, with luck, the MRF set pairing Del Monaco with Gulin. Vespri has fared well on records and, indeed, only the Historical Recordings Enterprises LP set (HRE-346, n.l.a., with Stella and Filippeschi, respectively, as Elena and Arrigo) under Tullio Serafin's direction, deriving from Palermo, the city of the opera's setting, has less viability on record than the new Melodram CD release. The quality, or rather lack of it, of the Palermo orchestra beggars description, so bad is it, totally ruining the work of the vocalists. MRF Records once had several recordings of Vespri in its catalog, again all in Italian, which either have resurfaced or are likely to do so on CD. These include performances that have entered the realm of legend, the one conducted by Erich Kleiber (MRF Records, now on CD as Melodram MEL-36020, with Maria Callas's Elena) and by Mario Rossi MRF-92, with Anita Cerquetti as Elena), which share Boris Christoff, towering over all competition in the role of Procida. Kleiber's conducting, as well as Callas's participation, have made his performance much sought after, but, even acknowledging his sensitivity and musicality, Kleiber's direction suffers from an excess of gentility in its approach to the score. The studio recording under Levine's lead has made the transfer to CD (as RCA 0370-2-RC). Levine's recording is more evenly cast than any other; even Martina Arroyo has much to offer, despite her pallor in Elena's coloratura, and Levine's conducting of excellent ensemble forces (New Philharmonia Orchestra and John Alldis Choir) crackles with energy, lending the music not only greater energy but heightened stature simply as music. Another Vespri in Italian, the only one in either language abjuring cuts, was once available on the Legendary Recordings label (LR-169) under Riccardo Muti's direction, of much the same dynamism as Levine's, with Scotto, Luchetti, Bruson, and Raimondi a strong team as, respectively, Elena, Arrigo, Monforte, and Procida. Of other recordings, the third MRF set (MRF-128) figured large for its stellar casting (Domingo, Diaz, and Caballé leading the pack as Arrigo, Procida, and Elena) than for cogency as music or drama. The only recording in French, with a lineup of singers too modest to bother noting, has been the Voce LP set (VOCE-56).


Recordings of Les Vêpres siciliennes [I vespri siciliani] by Giuseppe Verdi are surveyed in the following publications:
Opera on Record 3 p.101; CELLETTI p.1071; Opera on CD (1) p.52 (2) p.59 (3) p.66 L'Avant Scène Opéra No.75 p.102; MET p.618; MET(VID) p.383; PENGUIN p.510; GIUDICI p.953 (2) p.1537; Orpheus Februar 2001 p.57; Opéra International No.280 juin 2003 p.22
This recording is reviewed in the following publication:
Orpheus - Januar 2002 S.54 {mention) [GH]


Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano
Gianandrea Gavazzeni
Leyla Gencer (La Duchessa Elena); Pierro Cappucilli (Guido di Monforte); Nino Carta (Il sire di Bethune); Alfredo Giocomotti (Il Conte Vaudemont); Giorgia Lamberti (Arrigo); Carlo Cava (Giovanni da Procida); Nella Verri (Ninetta); Augusto Vicentini (Danieli); Piero de Palma(Tebaldo); Giovanni De Angelis (Roberto); Rinaldo Pelizzoni (Manfredo)

House of Opera – 2 CDs


Recordings of Les Vêpres siciliennes [I vespri siciliani] by Giuseppe Verdi are surveyed in the following publications:
Opera on Record 3 p.101; CELLETTI p.1071; Opera on CD (1) p.52 (2) p.59 (3) p.66 L'Avant Scène Opéra No.75 p.102; MET p.618; MET(VID) p.383; PENGUIN p.510; GIUDICI p.953 (2) p.1537; Orpheus Februar 2001 p.57; Opéra International No.280 juin 2003 p.22

Comments: Recording of a performance at La Scala (2 January 1971) The highlights issued by Myto consist of one aria and four duets with Gencer and Lamberti either from the performance on 2 January 1971 or from that 27 December 1970 which were the only two in which they sang together in these roles.

Idomeneo, Re di Creta [Live]


02.02.1968 IDOMENEO
Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala
Wolfgang Sawallisch
La Scala Premier
Margherita Rinaldi (Ilia); Peter Schreier (Idamente); Leyla Gencer (Elettra);
Waldemar Kmentt (Idomeneo)
Opera Depot – 2 CDs

Il Trovatore [Studio]

29.05.1957 IL TROVATORE
Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro della RAI di Milano
Fernando Previtali
Mario del Monaco (Manrico); Leyla Gencer (Leonora); Ettore Bastianini (Il conte di Luna); Fedora Barbieri (Azucena); Plinio Clabassi (Ferrando); Laura Londi (Ines); Athos Cesarini (Ruiz); Sergio Liliani (un vecchio zingaro); Walter Artioli (un messo)

Roberto Benaglio, maestro del coro
Gop – 2 CDs 


VERDI Il trovatore. • Leyla Gencer (Leonora); Mario del Monaco (Manrico); Fedora Barbieri (Azucena); Ettore Bastianini (Conte de Luna); Chorus & Orchestra of Radio Italiana, Milan, conducted by Fernando Previtali. • FOYER FO 1012 (three discs, mono), $29.94 [distributed by German News].
VERDI Rigoletto. • Cornell MacNeil (Rigoletto); Leyla Gencer (Gilda); Gianni Raimondi (Duke); Jorge Algorra (Sparafucile); Chorus & Orchestra of the Teatro Colón, conducted by Argeo Quadri. • FOYER FO 1025 (three discs, mono), $29.94 

Surely all Verdi fans, and all opera buffs, already have at least one and maybe more recordings of each of these splendid warhorses, possibly featuring one or several of the soloists listed above. What, then, gives these recordings their interest? For me, in two words, Leyla Gencer. The Turkish soprano, a spinto with coloratura skills, has been ignored by the commercial record companies, but she has had an important career nonetheless, singing at just about every major opera house and festival in Europe and, except for the Met, in the United States. These sets gave me my first chance to hear her work. 

The RAI II trovatore is the earlier, dating from May 18, 1957; Gencer had made her professional debut in Italy only three years before, and was still in her 20s. In those quintessential Verdi soprano arias, “Tacea la notte placida” and “D'amor sull'ali rosee,” her voice is a bit unsteady at lower volume but fills out excitingly as she rises to the climaxes; “Di tale amor,” with its oddly disjunctive and instrumental phrases, sets her a different kind of challenge which she has the agility to meet; and in the “Miserere” she guts it out with an impressive chest range. RAI brought together a strong and sturdy cast, on the whole better than we were hearing at the Met in those days (remember Kurt Baum?). Del Monaco is unrelentingly loud and sometimes crude, but such a voice would cause a sensation in these days of light lyric tenors straining to make heroic sounds. Barbieri phrases choppily (though this is partly Verdi's fault) but makes a vivid gypsy; Bastianini is wooden and prosaic in “II balen” but otherwise cultivates a nice line of sneering and snarling. Previtali leads an alert but otherwise rather faceless performance, making the standard cuts. The sound must originally have been quite clean and acceptable, but in these pressings, it is badly marred by pre-echo, especially in Acts I and IV. Perhaps the earlier Replica issue of this same performance (RPL 2413/5) is better in this respect; I have not heard it. By the way, Replica claims that the broadcast originated in Rome rather than Milan, and since Previtali was based in Rome at the time, I suspect that Replica is right. 

The sound of the Colón Rigoletto is even more of a trial to listen to, congested and distorted in loud passages and with the offstage music so faint that the engineer’s resort to some fairly clumsy gain-riding. Argeo Quadri, whom I have heard doing some good Verdi in Vienna, is here in rather stodgy form, especially in Act I. Cornell MacNeil's jester must be well-known to all by now, as he has appeared in the role on a Met telecast and recorded it twice, the first time with Joan Sutherland three months before this performance of September 22, 1961. Vocally he is a complete Rigoletto—sarcastic in Act I, tender and loving with his daughter, heroic in his cries for vengeance, broken in spirit when Gilda is first abducted and then murdered. Tito Gobbi is still more subtle and provides much telling detail, but in compensation Mac-Neil's instrument is bigger and despite an incipient wobble more beautiful, at least to these ears. Gianni Raimondi also has a handsome voice but sings loudly throughout, encouraged by the enthusiastic audience, and often pushes the pitch sharp. The Colón comprimarii are well in the picture, including a convincingly low-life Sparafucile and Maddalena. But what about Gencer? The size and quality of her voice makes her a dramatic Gilda like Milanov and Callas, rather than a songbird like Pons and Peters, but she keeps her timbre light and virginal through “Caro nome,” only in the last two acts suggesting by a slightly darker color and more emphatic phrasing the woman Gilda is becoming through her disillusioning and harrowing experiences. Gencer also indulges herself in an ear-splitting high Eb at the end of the duet “Si, vendetta” the Argentinians love it—but on the whole this is a well-thought-out characterization as well as a vocally secure performance. 

Inevitably I mentioned Maria Callas, who made famous recordings of both of these works. Both singers are similar in vocal weight and range, as well as in repertoire, and the unavoidable comparisons make it clear why Callas was the star and Gencer was and is in her shadow. Of course, Gencer's high notes are more secure than Callas'—almost everyone's are—but at least in these two fairly early performances, she lacks Callas' striking individuality of timbre and vocal characterization. Nonetheless, Gencer remains an important singer, and if her career is now nearly over, private enterprise on both sides of the Atlantic has given us more than 30 of her broadcast and stage performances, summarized in the checklist below and available for us to explore.


VERDI Il trovatore. • Fernando Previtali, conductor; Leyla Gencer, soprano (Leonora); Mario Del Monaco, tenor (Manrico); Ettore Bastianini, baritone (Di Luna); Fedora Barbieri, mezzo-soprano (Azucena); Plinio Clabassi, bass (Ferrando); Chorus & Orchestra of RAI, Milano. • ARKADIA MP 483.2; two monaural discs: 66:54, 57:30. (Distributed by Qualiton.) LIVE performance: May 29, 1957.

This RAI broadcast was previously released during the LP era on three different labels that I am aware of: HRE, Replica, and Foyer. Now available on CD, it features a cast which could hardly be duplicated today led by an authoritative and sympathetic conductor. However, since three of the four major principals have recorded the opera commercially, Del Monaco, Barbieri, and Bastianini, the major interest is probably for the “Gencer cultists” to hear her in a role which she never recorded and is not usually associated with. For the rest of us, the question may well be: How do you like your Trovatore steak, rare? medium? or well done? If you equate “rare” with passionate, bloody, violent, a performance that allows the singers to “let it all hang out,” this recording will be for you. On the other hand if you want musical correctness and refinement you will not be encouraged to purchase this set. To be frank, I prefer my Trovatore steak rare, so with some reservations noted below I can give it a qualified recommendation. 

Gencer's Leonora will not disappoint her loyal fans. True the voice is not equalized, at times unsteady, and she lacks a true trill which marks her “D'amor sull'ali rosee,” but she has the coloratura technique to satisfy in the cabaletta “Di tale amor,” and makes good use of her floating pianos in the “Tacea la notte.” She is also impressive in the “Miserere,” her controversial chest register is to my ears effective here, and the last-act duet with Bastianini is excitingly sung. 

In my admittedly long operagoing experience I have only heard in the theater two tenor voices that for sheer power and brilliance are unequaled: one was Lauritz Melchior and the other Mario Del Monaco. The true tenor di forza is a rare bird, born not made and like the dodo extinct today. Del Monaco has often been, unjustly I feel, criticized for always singing crudely at full volume. In a review of a live performance recording of Otello, Henry Fogel [Fanfare] (Fanfare 10:4) sagaciously stated: “His (Del Monaco's) reputation as a bellower has much of its roots in his studio recordings, where he did sing consistently loudly (egged on by his aggressive wife, according to producer John Culshaw, she wanted him to be louder than anything else on record at all times). In the theater he could modulate his powerful tone with substantial grace and subtlety.” Del Monaco's performance on this live recording, when contrasted to his commercial recording, substantiates Fogel's point. Del Monaco does not sing at full power all of the time; he does modulate, a prime example being his pianissimo on “Non ferir!” in the “Mal reggendo” duet. Furthermore, he was, particularly in the Italian dramatic tenor repertoire, a sensitive artist whose technical ability has often been slighted. He had luxuriant breath control, excellent phrasing, and marvelous diction, and as Fogel also stated, “was a capable, persuasive vocal actor.” His voice was so huge that his piano sounds like any other tenor's mezza voce, and his mezza voce sounds like any other tenor's mezzo forte. I am well aware that there are those who find his unremitting stream of bright, powerful tone annoying, just as there are those like me who find it exciting and thrilling. Since I feel that the role of Manrico calls for a true dramatic tenor, not a straining lyrico spinto, and I find that overall, he sings better on this live performance than he does on his commercial recording, I can heartily recommend it to those who are fond of Del Monaco. For the record, although he interpolates a ringing high Db at the conclusion of the trio in the first act, he sings “Di quella pira” in the customary half-tone downward transposition. 

Ettore Bastianini, in contrast, never learned to modulate his steely vibrant baritone. Consequently, he is fine in the dramatic moments, the aforementioned first-act trio, and fourth-act duet with Gencer, but he fails at the high point, “Il balen,” just as he does on his commercial recording. Legato was not his forte, and at times he is inclined to aspirate, but today we would kill for this type of powerful Italian baritone.

Fedora Barbieri contributes an authoritative Azucena. She does not steal the opera in this company, but she thoroughly knows the role. Only a deficiency at the very top and bottom of her voice when the tone turns tremulous is at times distracting. On the plus side she projects the text and character well. Her voice may be a shade too light and beautiful to rank her with the best interpreters of this demanding role.

Plinio Clabassi is perhaps the best Ferrando on records. Not only did he have a true basso profundo, but he had the technical ability to sing all of the notes in his aria and cabaletta in the first scene. The role was one of his specialities and he is eminently satisfying. 

The sound is adequate for its time. In a review of this recording issued by Foyer, John Francis (Fanfare 7:3) noted: “The sound must originally have been quite clean and acceptable, but in these pressings, it is badly marred by pre-echo, especially in Acts I and IV.” It is rather obvious that this set derives from the same tape source. On this set the engineers have obviously cut the treble, and the pre-echo is barely audible. RAI tapes were quite variable as I know from long experience. I have not heard either the Replica or Foyer pressings, but the HRE LPs are in better sound, brighter and clearer. 

The recording observes the standard cuts, Gencer is shorn of her cabaletta in the fourth act, which is the only really damaging one. Previtali leads a rousing fast-paced performance.

The well-worn cliché that all you need to perform II Trovatore are the four greatest singers in the world is apt, and unfortunately there is no recording that meets that standard. I might add that one might increase that number to five and include the Ferrando. Three out of four is about the best one can get. If like your Trovatore steak well done, then the Milanov, Björling, Warren, with the youthful Barbieri will be to your taste. The three principals sing beautifully, but Cellini, the conductor, tears through the score at such a pace that all the fire and passion of the music are lacking. I am partial to Karajan's feeling for this score and Callas is incomparable as Leonora, but Di Stefano is over parted. Better is the version conducted by Karajan on Cetra with Price, almost the equal of Callas in the role, a more beautiful voice but less temperament, and Corelli, on his good behavior, the closest approximation to Del Monaco, and with Simionato's vivid Azucena, but Bastianini fails the “Il balen” test here also. The two best lyrico-spinto Manricos are Björling and Domingo, both of whom can be heard on multiple commercial and private recordings. My dream cast from recordings would consist of Callas, Del Monaco, Granforte, and Elmo, with Clabassi as Ferrando, conducted by Karajan. Oh well, I can dream on. 

No notes nor texts, they really aren't necessary. There are adequate cueing bands. In summation a qualified recommendation for Del Monaco and Gencer fans.


VERDI Il trovatore • Fernando Previtali, cond; Leyla Gencer (Leonora); Mario del Monaco (Manrico); Fedora Barbieri (Azucena); Ettore Bastianini (Il conte di Luna); Plinio Clabassi (Ferrando); Athos Cesarini (Ruiz); O & Ch di Milano della RAI • MYTO 2MCD 013.247 (2 CDs: 134:47, No Translation) & VERDI La forza del destino: duet 

The eminent Turkish soprano Leyla Gencer (b. 1924) was surely the most under-recorded major singer of her time. Overlooked by virtually the entire recording industry, she is enjoying belated recognition thanks to a substantial number of live recordings that are now coming to light. Verdi's Leonora seems to have been a perfect role for her, and this 1957 broadcast from the Italian Radio in Milan finds her in outstanding form. (Callas and Tebaldi made complete recordings of Il trovatore the previous year, and Gencer's portrayal doesn't suffer by comparison.) She lives the character fully in all its passion, fury, and self-sacrifice, singing with vividly expressive coloration of phrases. She is accurate in rhythm and musical detail; her tones are well equalized and enriched by softly floated high notes (a D in "D'amor sull'ali rosee") and a judicious use of the chest register. A few notes land slightly under their intended destination, but these are minor blemishes in an otherwise splendid portrayal. 

Gencer may dominate, but she is surrounded by an excellent cast, all seasoned interpreters of their roles. Del Monaco bellows his offstage serenade in the first act, but contributes mightily to the lusty ensemble of the Trio that brings the act to its close. More of a warrior than a troubadour, he manages a reasonably lyrical "Ah sì, ben mio" and follows it with a stentorian "Di quella pira," down a semitone. Fedora Barbieri is quite magnificent, imposing at both extremes of the range—offhand I cannot recall a more excitingly realized Azucena on records. Whether in tender moments or in raging fury, Ettore Bastianini's resonant baritone is a pleasure to hear, and Plinio Clabassi is a model Ferrando. 

Two conductors—Karajan and Giulini—could make us realize that Il trovatore is more than a "singers' opera." Fernando Previtali cannot quite do that, but his essentially brisk but always accommodating tempos serve the music well and maintain an exciting momentum throughout. In keeping with the usage prevalent in the 1950s, there are a few cuts in the score. Omitting Leonora's fourth-act "Tu vedrai che amore in terra" is particularly damaging because Gencer would have excelled in it. 

The orchestral sound is quite good for 1957, attesting to the quality of the RAI archives. There are informative notes on the artists, but the libretto—in minuscule type—is in Italian only. As a bonus. MYTO offers a duet from La forza del destino with Del Monaco and baritone Carlo Guichandut—poorly recorded and dispensable. But Gencer devotees—and there are many—will welcome this Trovatore.


Recordings of Il trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi are surveyed in the following publications:
High Fidelity January 1960 Vol.10 No.1 p.49, October 1963 Vol.13 No.10 p.42; HARRIS p.296; Opera on Record p.225; CELLETTI p.1050; MARINELLI p.162; Opera on CD (1) p.50 (2) p.56 (3) p.62; L'Avant Scène Opéra No.60 p.100, Mise à jour Octobre 2003; MET p.596; MET(VID) p.371; PENGUIN p.507; GIUDICI p.920 (2) p.1487; Opéra International No.252 décembre 2000 p.16; Orpheus Juni 2001 S.53; CD Compact No.161 enero 2003 p.20
This recording is reviewed in the following publications:
Opera News - July 2003 pp.56-57 [MB]
Fanfare - Vol.19 No.1 September/October 1995 p.349 (audio); Vol.25 No.5 May/June 2002 pp.221--222 (audio) [GJ]
Orpheus - Februar 1996 S.60; Januar 1997 S.63 (video); Dezember 1997 S.62 (video) [GH]; November 2002 S.95 (DVD) [GH]
Opera Quarterly - Vol.5 Nos.2 & 3 Summer/Autumn 1987 pp.142-163 [RL]: Vol.20 No.1 Winter 2004 pp.122-125 (DVD) [RP]
Opéra International - novembre 1997 No.218 p.51 (VHS) [SS]; No.274 décembre 2002 pp.68-69 (DVD) [SS]
Diapason - No.504 juin 2003 p.123 (DVD) [MP]
Classical Express - Issue No.89 August 1997 p.1
BBC Music Magazine - February 2003 p.94 [GH]
American Record Guide - March/April 2003 Vol.66 No.2 pp.233-234 (DVD) [LM]
Répertoire - No.85 novembre 1995 p.80 (audio): No.162 novembre 2002 p.103 (audio) [PT]
L'opera (Milano) - Anno XI N.111 settembre 1997 p.106 [GL]
Ópera Actual (Barcelona) - diciembre 1997 - febrero 1998 No.26 p.99 [FSR]: No.51 mayo-junio 2002 pp.99-100 (audio) [LB]
CD COMPACT (Barcelona) - septiembre 2002 No.157 p.61 [JS]



When RAI released the record of Il Trovatore (1957) Leyla Gencer had just arrived at La Scala and was struggling very hard to find a place for herself at the Italian theaters. However, the 60’s gave her such a brilliant career. Whilst listening to this Il Trovatore, one can’t help but think: Why did this young Turkish soprano had to work and struggle so hard to be accepted and become the heroine that realized the Bel Canto Renaissance? 

Frankly, her interpretation of Leonora is a miracle. A miracle mainly because of her voice that she uses as if she’s breathing with it and that is extremely sensitive to all rhytmical changes. A miracle. A miracle because of so many vast colours in her singing and her flawless interpretation style also. Gencer, ties the Verdian music with the grand Bel Canto tradition and renders Leonora as the last Donizetti heroine.  We haven’t heard such a perfect interpretation from anybody else except for Callas. That Leonora is borrowed from the nights, wrapped with moonlight and who’s wandering at the borders of somnambulism. 

In that case how come Gencer didn’t completely shake up the audience and the press in 1957? Why did the press ignore her? 

The answer is simple: Because there was Callas and she was in her most brilliant period! Callas almost had made a fool of Tebaldi; Callas kept Gencer away from shining. And yet when Callas quit singing in 1965, Caballé, another major soprano, finally become famous after singing anonymously for so many years. Gencer’s presence in Il Trovatore almost makes us forget her colleagues. Bastianini and Barbieri are like always: The first one is sure of himself, the second one is uncontrolled and Del Monaco- everyone knows his defaults, there’s no need to repeat them, but he once again proves to be one of the most unique artists of post-war with the healthiness of his voice, striking vibrations and his effortless interpretation.

The same record also contains some other Verdi arias that Gencer sang in 1957 and 1959 (excerpts from I due Foscari and La Battaglia di Legnano). Gencer is more ingenious and intense than Caballé and she’s more consistent than Ricciarelli. She knows how to find the perfect balance in terms of Bel Canto’s dramatic structure and dramatic necessities. All the arias of the Verdi’s young era find meaning in Gencer’s voice. 









29.05.1957 IL TROVATORE
Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro della RAI di Milano
Fernando Previtali
Mario del Monaco (Manrico); Leyla Gencer (Leonora); Ettore Bastianini (Il conte di Luna); Fedora Barbieri (Azucena); Plinio Clabassi (Ferrando); Laura Londi (Ines); Athos Cesarini (Ruiz); Sergio Liliani (un vecchio zingaro); Walter Artioli (un messo)

Roberto Benaglio, maestro del coro
Claudio Fino, regia
Hardy – 1 DVD


2005 September


Il Trovatore [Live]

16.11.1957 IL TROVATORE
Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Verdi di Trieste
Vincenzo Bellezza
Mario Filippeschi (Manrico); Leyla Gencer (Leonora); Ettore Bastianini (Il conte di Luna); Dora Minarelli (Azucena); Antonio Massaria (Ferrando); Lilian Hussu (Ines); Raimondo Botteghelli (Ruiz)

Bongiovanni – 2 CDs


Recordings of Il trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi are surveyed in the following publications:
High Fidelity January 1960 Vol.10 No.1 p.49, October 1963 Vol.13 No.10 p.42; HARRIS p.296; Opera on Record p.225; CELLETTI p.1050; MARINELLI p.162; Opera on CD (1) p.50 (2) p.56 (3) p.62; L'Avant Scène Opéra No.60 p.100, Mise à jour Octobre 2003; MET p.596; MET(VID) p.371; PENGUIN p.507; GIUDICI p.920 (2) p.1487; Opéra International No.252 décembre 2000 p.16; Orpheus Juni 2001 S.53; CD Compact No.161 enero 2003 p.20

La Battaglia di Legnano [Live]

Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Vittorio Gui
Paolo Washington (Federico Barbarossa); Ugo Novelli (primo console); Angelo Frati (secondo console); Giuseppe Taddei (Rolando, duce milanese); Leyla Gencer (Lida, sua moglie); Mario Frosini (Il podesta di Como); Gastone Limarilli (Arrigo, guerriero veronese); Giorgio Giorgetti (Marcovaldo, prigioniero alemano); Olga Carossi (Imelda, ancella di Lida); Alberto Lotti Camici (un araldo)

Myto – 2 CDs


Amor di patria e private passioni

Il 10 maggio 1959 fu una delle tante date da ricordare nella storia del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Nel dopoguerra La battaglia di Legnano di Verdi ritornava finalmente sulle scene italiane con il significativo precedente dell’esecuzione in forma di concerto che nel 1951, alla Rai di Roma, celebrò il cinquantenario della morte di Verdi, cui seguì, due anni più tardi l’allestimento fiorentino, l’altrettanto mitica edizione scaligera che festeggiò il centenario dell’Unità d’Italia, con una compagnia di canto da capogiro che comprendeva i nomi di Franco Corelli, Antonietta Stella, Ettore Bastianini e sul podio Gianandrea Gavazzeni.

La produzione che inaugurò il Maggio Musicale non ebbe meno importanza se si pensa che in sala, al Teatro della Pergola (il Comunale era chiuso per radicali lavori di ristrutturazione), ci fu l’allora Presidente della Repubblica Giovanni Gronchi, presente a suggello istituzionale di uno dei tanti eventi culturali di riscoperta di cui il Maggio si fece promotore nei suoi anni d’oro. Franco Enriquez firmò la regia, mentre il giovane Attilio Colonnello, scene e costumi; questi ultimi di sfarzoso effetto, per uno spettacolo che si ricorda di grande impatto visivo, seppure le cronache del tempo riportano che mancò l’entusiasmo di altre inaugurazioni, così come la presenza di inviati a Firenze fu inferiore alle attese.

Il merito della riuscita di un titolo all’epoca così desueto si deve all’instancabile ed esperta attività di promozione culturale oltre che esecutiva svolta da Vittorio Gui a Firenze, dapprima come fondatore e direttore artistico dal Maggio Musicale e poi, a partire dagli anni Cinquanta, come appassionato scopritore di titoli del repertorio rossiniano e verdiano dimenticati che grazie a lui tornarono sulle scene in esecuzioni pioniere di future e più radicate presenze sui palcoscenici italiani ed esteri.

La sua direzione d’orchestra, nello specifico di questa Battaglia di Legnano, accende la miccia di una verdianità impegnata nel rendere giustizia a quelle che sono le due anime distinte, anche se fra di loro ben intrecciate, di un’opera cronologicamente situata nel periodo che volge al termine dei cosiddetti “anni di galera” e che pone Verdi dinanzi a quella che Andrea Della Corte definì la “grande conquista verdiana dell’espressione intensa, la quale segnerà la fine dell’arido recitativo e la nuova drammaticità e plasticità delle cantilene”. Gui comprende come il segreto per valorizzare al meglio una partitura come La battaglia di Legnano sia cercare un equilibrio sonoro adatto a cogliere l’espressione corale dei giuramenti e delle cerimonie civiche, religiose e militari celebrate dalla Lega Lombarda in reazione all’invasione germanica di Federico Barbarossa come risvolto dell’orgoglio nazionale, ma anche come ideale collante per superare il dramma privato dei personaggi, evidente nella vicenda passionale di adulterio quasi borghese propria a molto melodramma del primo Verdi. Ed è interessante notare come il rumoroso sfondo patriottico, a cui la direzione di Gui infonde bagliori verdiani mai esteriormente esibiti, bensì attraversati da una sinistra tinta che attenua la veemente vibrazione di dinamiche e ritmiche (questo avviene anche nell’impeto gagliardo donato alla Sinfonia, con la marziale fanfara della Lega Lombarda ricorrente in diversi punti dell’opera), lasci giusto spazio al nobile recitativo che s’innerva nella parola declamata, arricchendola di un drammatico sentire che va ben oltre le intenzioni risorgimentali di un’opera dove le vicende intime trovano soluzioni collettive nell’amor di patria, attingendo ad esso per purificare errori e miserie del vivere, così da mettere in azione la singolare bidimensionalità drammaturgica della Battaglia di Legnano.

La conferma di come la concertazione di Gui risolvesse mirabilmente le ragioni drammatico-espressive di un’opera a quell’epoca quasi ignota, ma già pronta ad essere riscoperta ed apprezzata per i suoi valori più autentici, venne avvalorata dalla compagnia di cantanti scelta per l’occasione. (…)

© Archivio Storico Teatro del Maggio


VERDI La battaglia di Legnano. • Leyla Gencer, soprano (Lida); Giuseppe Taddei, baritone (Rolando); Gastone Limarilli, tenor (Arrigo); Paolo Washington, bass (Federico); Chorus & Orchestra of Florence May Festival, conducted by Vittorio Gui. • REPLICA ARPL 2250 (two discs, mono; also numbered Replica 24), $19.96 [distributed by German News].  

Although this cannot compete with the superbly recorded and more evenly performed Philips recording (Ricciarelli/Carreras/Manuguerra/Gardelli; 6700 120), there is still much to recommend this set to Verdians who might wish more than one performance of La battaglia di Legnano in their collections. The sound is what you would expect from a 1959 broadcast—a bit thin and constricted, with some distortion at climaxes. Yet there are three solid pluses that this performance has to offer, and they add up to a convincing case for one of Verdi's weaker operas: Leyla Gencer, Giuseppe Taddei, and Vittorio Gui. 

Gencer (more about her in this issue under Donizetti's Roberto Devereux) brings her distinctive timbre and dynamic control to Verdi's Lida, and is, in a word, extraordinary. This is a strongly etched portrayal. Taddei seems to have occasional intonation trouble, but still brings his smooth voice, superbly produced legato, and consummate Verdi style to his role. Gui, about 74 at the time of this performance, shows signs of age with a few moments of slackened energy. For the most part, though, he demonstrates an uncanny ability to give shape and momentum to Verdi's slow music through proper binding of the phrases. In all, this is wonderful conducting. 

As I indicated, the limited sonic quality and the vocal shortcomings of the other roles (Li-marilli's tight, charmless tenor is particularly ungratifying) prevent this from being a first choice. Its virtues, however, should not pass unnoticed, nor unappreciated. Serious opera collectors will want to add this to their libraries. Replica has done its usual fine processing job; included is an Italian-only libretto.


VERDI La battaglia di Legnano: Complete; Excerpts1 • Vittorio Gui, cond; Leyla Gencer (Lida); Gastone Limarilli (Arrigo); Giuseppe Taddei (Rolando); Florence May Festival O & Ch; Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, cond;1 Leyla Gencer (Lida);1 Giovanni (aka João) Gibin (Arrigo);1 Ugo Savarese (Rolando);1 Verdi Theater O & Ch, Trieste1 • MYTO 2 MCD 033.281, mono (2 CDs: 155:00) Live: Florence 5/10/1959 

The revolutionary events of 1848, which included anti-Austrian revolts in Milan and Venice, filled Verdi with pride and enthusiasm. “All honor to our brave champions,” he wrote, “Honor to all Italy who at this moment is really great.” Unfortunately, the revolution fizzled and soon the Austrians were back in power. Wanting to contribute to Italian nationalism in whatever way he could, Verdi decided to compose an opera about the Lombard League’s defeat of the German Emperor, Frederick Barbarosa, way back in 1175. The events of 1175 were grafted onto a play called “The Battle of Toulouse” by one Joseph Méry. Arrigo, wounded in battle, has been given up for dead by his sweetheart, Lida, who, at the request of her father, marries Rolando. When Arrigo turns up alive, she is torn between her love for him and her loyalty to her vows. She chooses loyalty but, due to treachery on the part of an enemy, Rolando is deceived into thinking she has betrayed him. Both he and Arrigo depart to battle against the Germans. The Lombards win but Arrigo is mortally wounded. With his dying words, he convinces Rolando that Lida has been faithful. 

Not much of a plot and it has been repeated subsequently in plays and movies: a man thought to be dead shows up one day and discovers that his wife/sweetheart has remarried with a resulting dilemma for all. By the time he wrote La battaglia di Legnano, Verdi was drifting away from the formulas he had exploited with such skill and vigor during his early years. It’s not that the opera lacks examples of the aria/cabaletta form, but it is not used in a formulaic way and the interesting accompaniment figures have little of the familiar “oom-pah-pah” rhythm about them. The orchestration also marks a step forward in originality. And why not? Chronologically, the opera comes between Il corsaro and Luisa Miller, just before Verdi’s “middle period” which is usually presumed to have begun with Rigoletto. Some scenes, like the opening of act II when Arrigo joins the Lombard Knights, are worthy of the later Verdi. Given the opera’s patriotic theme, one might expect some vigorous, martial music and some opportunities for forceful, heroic singing. La battaglia does not disappoint here, and even second-rate belters can perform the opera to some effect. That is, in fact, what happens on a 1961 La Scala performance that I heard on the Opera d’Oro label. Franco Corelli, the Arrigo, tosses off powerful high notes but sometimes forgets the words, sometimes lags behind the beat, and is sometimes guilty of approximate pitch. The Rolando, Ettore Bastianini, has a rich, dark baritone voice (he was once a bass) and can match Corelli forte for forte, but he also simplifies his part, at one point omitting an exposed passage because it ends with a high G, skipping cadenzas, and singing with minimal nuance. At least the Lida, Antonietta Stella, hits most of her notes and makes a good, healthy sound, but she, perhaps influenced by her surroundings, sings with minimal nuance. There are a good many cut in what isn’t a particularly long opera to begin with. 

The difference between a good conductor and a very good one is demonstrated when one compares Myto’s recent issue of a 1959 recording, made during the Florence May Festival (the celebrated “Maggio Musicale Fiorentino”). On the La Scala performance, the reputable Gianandrea Gavazzeni beats the time efficiently and may have had all he could do just to keep things together, but the Florence performance, led by Vittorio Gui, is much more specific—the singers actually sing an opera that’s much closer to the one Verdi actually composed and the characters come to life. Technically, Leyla Gencer is a highly accomplished Lida who can do things that Stella simply avoids or simplifies; and she sings with nuance, using what Verdi gives her, to bring out the character’s apprehension and vulnerability. The disc is filled out with most of her contributions to a 1963 Trieste performance where she is, if anything, in even more robust voice than four years earlier. Any Gencer fans should grab this set. Gastone Limarilli and Giuseppe Taddei both sing with character—they don’t just belt out the music and both are in typical voice and neither does much to simplify his part. There’s little trace of carelessness or sloppiness here. The other roles in the opera are all minor ones that are easily sung by comprimarios. Gui makes very few cuts: there’s the usual half-a-cabaletta on two occasions, and there’s a brief cut in the act III prelude that is, I suspect, due to a fault on the original tape, which sounds like it was taken off a broadcast. The Trieste performance has decent mono sound, too, but seems to have been taped from the audience. Giovanni (aka João, he was Brazilian) Gibin is in good voice, and makes a heroic Arrigo. He never had much of a recording career, but can be heard as a strong Dick Johnson on EMI’s La fanciulla del West, holding his own with Birgit Nilsson’s equally strong Minnie. The Trieste Rolando, Ugo Savarese, doesn’t have the kind of quality vocal cords that nature gave Bastianini and Taddei, but he sings with understanding and sufficient flair to get the message across. There are a few cuts but remember: this isn’t a complete performance, anyway, though it contains about two-thirds of the opera, including the entire last act. 

Although I recommend this CD to fans of Gencer and think that the Gui performance of La battalgia di Legnano is quite a good one, I would not recommend it if your purpose is to acquaint yourself with an obscure Verdi opera. Philips took on La battaglia as part of its Verdi series back in 1977 and the combination of sound and performance does even more justice to the opera than the Myto set. First of all, as was Philips’s custom, the performance is uncut and idiomatically conducted by Lamberto Gardelli. It is in clear, powerful stereo. If Katia Ricciarelli can’t match Gencer’s power and flexibility, she offers a sincere, vulnerable characterization that brings the role to life. She’s good, and so is José Carreras, in his reckless 1977 form, as Arrigo, throwing himself into the role like there was no tomorrow. 

Unfortunately, there was. What a voice he had back then, and how sad that he accomplished so little with it, appropriately ending up as the tail to the Domingo/Pavarotti kite. Matteo Managuerra fills the role of Rolando with less vocal charisma, but leaves little to be desired. There is also a libretto, which you won’t find with the Myto or Opera d’Oro versions. 




Recordings of La battaglia di Legnano by Giuseppe Verdi are surveyed in the following publications:
CELLETTI p.856; GIUDICI p.896, (2) p.1448; NEWTON (Verdi) Vol.1 p.300; Opéra International No.271 septembre 2002 p.20
This recording is reviewed in the following publications:
Fanfare - Vol.27 No.5 May/June 2004 pp.223-225 [JM]
Orpheus - Dezember 1980 S.847-S.848 [ES2]
Le Monde de la Musique - No.280 octobre 2003 p.73 [GG]
Ópera Actual (Barcelona) - No.68 marzo 2004 p.88 [LB]


Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Verdi di Trieste
Francesco Molinari-Pradelli
Marco Stefanoni (Federico Barbarossa); Silvio Majonica (primo console); Alessandro Maddalena (secondo console); Ugo Severese (Rolando, duce milanese); Leyla Gencer (Lida, sua moglie); Vito Susca (Il podesta di Como); Joao Gibin (Arrigo, guerriero veronese); Enzo Viaro (Marcovaldo, prigioniero alemano); Bruna Ronchini (Imelda, ancella di Lida)
Gala – 2 CDs


VERDI La battaglia di Legnano (Complete)1  Excerpts2. • Gianandrea Gavazzeni, conductor; Antonietta Stella, soprano (Lida); Franco Corelli, tenor (Arrigo); Ettore Bastianini, baritone (Rolando); Marco Stefanoni, bass (Federio Barbarossa); Virgilio Carbonari, bass (Marcovaldo); Agostino Ferrin, bass (Consul); Antonio Zerbini, bass (Il podestà); Chorus & Orchestra of La Scala, Milan; Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, conductor; Leyla Gencer, soprano (Lida); Joâo Gibin, tenor (Arrigo); Ugo Savarese, baritone (Rolando); Chorus & Orchestra of Teatro Verdi, Trieste. • MYTO 2MCD89010 [ADD]; two discs: 76, 76, (Distributed by Qualiton.) LIVE performance, March 8, 19632. LIVE performance, December 12, 19611.

La battaglia di Legnano is one of Verdi's most neglected operas. Initially quite successful, it quickly disappeared from the boards and was not revived for nearly a century. That revival is the basis of the first of the two commercial recordings to date: a broadcast by Radio Italiana, directed by Fernando Previtali for the semicentennial (1951) of the composer's death and first issued here on the Cetra-Soria label. The second recording, under the baton of Lamberto Gardelli, was a 1977 product of Philips's aborted Verdi series. There was also a “live” recording in a Verdi series from HRE, which may have been identical with one of those represented here, but I have never seen it. Except for the overture, no excerpts are listed in WERM, and I know of only two subsequent to those volumes: recordings of the tenor and soprano cavatinas sung, respectively, by Carlo Bergonzi (in his Philips survey of Verdi tenor arias) and by Renata Scotto (CBS). 

Such neglect is in considerable degree owing to the nature of the work itself. Inspired by the Milanese revolt of 1848 against Austrian domination, it is Verdi's mostly overtly patriotic opera, going back as it does to the defeat of the Germanic emperor Frederick Barbarossa by a coalition of north Italian city-states 640 years earlier. So it is that the emphasis, whether intentionally or by accident, is on public events and mass emotions, rather than on individual characters. Imbedded in the depiction of a whole people coming together in a common cause there is, to be sure, a more narrowly focused story of a love-triangle—the sort of thing that is the essence of much melodrama. 

The Veronese warrior Arrigo, formerly engaged to Lida, has long since been reported killed in battle. But he was only severely wounded, and, after a protracted convalescence, turns up in a Milan hot to take on the German invader to find Lida married to his best friend, Rolando. Disconsolate, he joins an elite suicide squadron of Italian knights, to which the patriotic Rolando also belongs. Through a series of rather improbable coincidences, Rolando is convinced that his wife and his friend are betraying him, and, as the troops march off to Legnano, locks them up in a tower room of his castle. Arrigo dives into the moat, rejoins his squadron, and is a hero in the battle, in which he is mortally wounded. Brought back to Milan, he reunites the wife and husband, and dies kissing the flag. 

It will be seen that this story, such as it is, serves chiefly as an exemplum of the patriotic theme, and is as much (or more) concerned with the two men's love of country than it is with their love of Lida. The characters are, in fact, little more than stick-figures, and Verdi gives them few solo opportunities to individualize themselves. It is generally agreed that he made some big strides here in his musico-dramatic development, but they are more toward creating a close-woven fabric from which little can be cut for display. And from the dramatic viewpoint, it is the big ensemble scenes—the beginning, the oath of the Knights of Death, the conclusion—that have the greatest impact, however theatrical. 

Of the three complete recordings known to me, Gardelli's is the most satisfying. José Carreras and Matteo Manuguerra offer sensitive portrayals of the two men and Katia Ricciarelli, in her vulnerability, sets a standard for Lida. In the pioneering Previtali recording we get a decent performance from the short-lived Amadeo Berdini and a good one from Rolando Panerai. But Previtali merely goes through the motions, and the recording is ultimately defeated by the Ama-zonesque singing of Caterina Mancini and by the muscle-bound voice of Albino Gaggi, who sings allCO the bass roles. 

Which brings us to the Gavazzeni version. Initially the sound, despite the usual catarrh accompaniment from the audience and the mumbling of the prompter, is surprisingly good. That fact and the energy and commitment of Gavazzeni's conducting in the opening scene will give you an idea of why the initial Italian audiences went off their heads over the work. Later the sound deteriorates to some small degree and the to wer-room scene seems rather out-of-focus. 

I was never a Corelliphile and this recording has not boosted my enthusiasm. He is in good voice, but anyone who expects prodigies of brazen trumpeting will be disappointed, for Verdi provides few opportunities. Moreover, for whatever reason, he boohoos his way through much of his role. Bastianini makes glorious noises but conveys little sense of character.

There are more serious flaws. For example, the Emperor should, in his single brief appearance, be vocally an overwhelming presence (Philips lavishes Nicola Ghiuselev on the part). Here we have a comprimario baritone who is too far from the mike and who thus makes no impact at all. 

But the weakest feature is Antonietta Stella's Lida. I had not heard her in years, but remember her as having an attractive voice in her prime. Though she improves as she goes on, she is too often strident, off-pitch, and insensitive to the needs of her character.

The forty-five minutes of excerpts from the Trieste production offer virtually all of the scenes involving Lida (but no others). The sound is good and Gencer gives an intelligent and well-sung account of her part—a different concept from Ricciarelli's and far superior to Mancini's and Stella's. The beefy-voiced Savarese is acceptable, but Gibin (here called “Giovanni”) yells his way through the Arrigo scenes. 

The Gavazzeni reading is in itself exciting, but on the whole this set is probably recommend-able only to insatiable admirers of the principals.



VERDI La battaglia di Legnano. • Leyla Gencer, soprano (Lida); Joao Gibin, tenor (Arrigo); Ugo Savarese, baritone (Rolando); Marco Stefanoni, bass (Federico Barbarossa); Enzo Viaro, baritone (Marcovaldo); Chorus & Orchestra of the Teatro Giuseppe Verdi, Trieste, conducted by Francesco Molinari-Pradelli. • HISTORICAL RECORDING ENTERPRISES HRE V813 (two discs, mono; recorded live, 1963), $16.00 (available from: Historical Recording Enterprises, P.O. Box 12, Kew Gardens, NY 11415; add $1.50 postage).

VERDI Il Corsaro. • Carlo Bergonzi, tenor (Corrado); Carolyn Val-Schmidt, soprano (Medora); Sarah Reese, soprano (Gulnara); James Dietsch, baritone (Seid); chorus, orchestra, conducted by David Lawton. • HISTORICAL RECORDING ENTERPRISES HRE V812 (two discs; recorded live, December 12, 1981), $16.00 (available from: Historical Recording Enterprises, P.O. Box 12, Kew Gardens, NY 11415; add $1.50 postage). 

HRE's “Complete Verdi Series” has continued apace, HRE V812 being no. 12 in the cycle and HRE V813 no. 13, as the issue numbers mnemonically indicate. Il Corsaro and La Battaglia di Legnano are two of Verdi's early works which have gained most from the reassessment of the value of operas from his “galley years. “Considering their relative obscurity even today, it is surprising how many recordings of these works, especially from broadcast and other live sources, have been released. Chief in the works' discographies are the studio recordings on the Philips label (6700120 for La Battaglia and 6700 089 for II Corsaro). The live performances which the HRE sets perpetuate complement those recordings with varying success. 

HRE's La Battaglia has something to offer despite the unevenness of its casting compared with that of the Philips set or of the famous 1961 live La Scala performance featuring Stella, Corelli, Bastianini, et al. under Gavazzeni's direction (released several times, including MRF Records MRF-109 and Robin Hood Records RHR 5201 ). The best aspect of HRE's performance is the vigor and rhythmic alertness of Francesco Molinari-Pradelli's conducting, although the orchestra is only decent and the chorus merely O.K., Triste's theater not being one of quite the front rank among Italy's opera houses. Leyla Gencer offers singing of solidly dramatic caliber, though she is not heard at her best on these disc sides. Gencer really only “hits her stride” in Act 111. This is not one of the performances that made her the cult figure that she has become for many collectors, but a worthy effort, nonetheless. Joáo Gibin offers more pleasure than he has on some of his recordings. Although he sheathes the velvet of his voice in gristle, there is a richness in his baritonal lower register and brightness on top that compensate to some extent for the toughness and intractability of this tenor's singing. Ugo Savarese presents no surprises. A quaver afflicts his voice noticeably, and his continual lapses in pitch strain the listener's patience. (The other singers have intonation problems from time to time, though none to the same extent.) 

The mono sound, apart from some initial distortion in the overture, offers good service. It poses few problems, although there are rare moments of change in sonic perspective as well as some slight fluctuations in speed from the tape source. The audience's noise is moderate (a bit of clapping and coughing), but the prompter too audibly and zealously fulfills his duties, even coaxing along the chorus. 

At least thè solo singing and conducting which can be heard on HRE's Corsaro are fine enough to offer formidable competition to the glories even of the Philips set. The performance surely is the one reviewed in Opera News in vol. 46, no. 15 (March 13, 1982) on p. [31]. The orchestra's ensemble is scrappy at times but the playing still manages to satisfy the demands of a score which among the composer's early operas gives the orchestra unusual prominence and wealth of coloration. The chorus sings acceptably, but what I assume to be the immaturity of its maie voices conveys the callowness of a college choir. Though his choral and orchestral forces cannot compare with those on the Philips recording, David Law-ton directs them with energy and sensitivity. 

A first glance at the cast list may suggest that HRE has released this performance merely to capitalize on Bergonzi's fame. The other singers may not be so famous as the Italian tenor, but they are fine enough to quickly dispel that preconception. Bergonzi himself, of course, deserves to be recorded in almost any of Verdi's tenor roles. His singing on these grooves exhibits his accustomed ardor, taste, and musicianship, and the voice itself sounds more youthful than it has in some of his other recent performances. Carolyn Val-Schmidt and Sarah Reese, whose names I scarcely recognized, offset each other nicely through contrast between their vocal timbres. Val-Schmidt's voice is one of purity and focus, but slightly veiled in a way that lends it extra appeal for its individuality. Reese's voice, also soprano, like Val-Schmidt's is basically lyric in heft' and coloration, but with sufficient mettle in all but the not quite adequately supported chest register to become a first-rate spinto. As if the ladies were not fine enough discoveries, the listener encounters James Dietsch, who impresses mightily and whom I, for one, want to hear a lot more often. The meatiness, solidity, and darkly gleaming tone of his baritone exude tremendous virility and power. He does not yet (or at least not in this music) much vary that basic sound nor alter the dynamic level at which he spouts it, but a voice of such beauty gratifies irresistibly for its own sake. Dietsch displays good musicianship and phrasing, so there is reason to hope for growth as an interpreter.

The stereo sound has almost the clarity, brightness, and body of a studio recording, with scarcely any sonic mishaps. Since the music as rendered and recorded took place as a concert performance, no prompter or extraneous stage noises are to be heard. The audience applauds now and then, but its presence is otherwise hardly audible. 

The supporting casts maintain a reliable level of professionalism in both operas and include Mario Cioffi, Luigi Padillo, Ettore Gerì, Bruna Ronchini, and Vito Susca in Battaglia ana, in Corsaro, Glenn Martin and Robert Guarino. 

In buying either set, the purchaser will have to do without benefit of libretto, synopsis, or annotation. 



Quando il Risorgimento passava dal Maggi

Al Maggio del 1959 torna sulle scene un titolo verdiano dismesso. È "La battaglia di Legnano", ascoltata la prima volta centodieci anni prima in una Roma senza papa, fuggito dopo la rivolta della città che portò all'instaurazione della Repubblica di Mazzini, Saffi e Armellini. Partitura impregnata di spirito risorgimentale: dal conflitto medievale tra Lega Lombarda e Barbarossa traspare l'aspirazione degli italiani dell'Ottocento a una nazione libera, unita. Perciò la cornice politica e le scene d'assieme predominano sulle problematiche sentimentali dei singoli (il soprano, credendo morto l'amato tenore, ne ha sposato il migliore amico, baritono). Alla Pergola, Vittorio Gui ne guida un'esecuzione ragguardevole, ora riversata in un cofanetto della collana Maggio live. Lettura risoluta, cui lo sbalzo ritmico procura impeto teatrale e slancio patriottico. Nel cast Leyla Gencer e Giuseppe Taddei in stato di grazia, con il tenore Gastone Limarilli solo un tantino meno fulgente.


Recordings of La battaglia di Legnano by Giuseppe Verdi are surveyed in the following publications:
CELLETTI p.856; GIUDICI p.896, (2) p.1448; NEWTON (Verdi) Vol.1 p.300; Opéra International No.271 septembre 2002 p.20
This recording is reviewed in the following publications:
Fanfare - Vol.27 No.5 May/June 2004 pp.223-225 (highlights) [JM]
Orpheus - Januar 2002 S.54 {mention) [GH]
Opéra International - No.56 février 1983 p.59 [SS]
Classic Record Collector - Summer 2002 pp.100-101 [JTH]
Ópera Actual (Barcelona) - No.106 diciembre 2007 p.94 [MC]

La Falena [Live]


Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Comunale G. Verdi di Trieste
Gianandrea Gavazzeni
Leyla Gencer (La Falena); Ruggero Bondino (Re Stellio); Mario d' Anna (Uberto); Rita Lantieri (Albina); Aurio Tomicich (Morio); Dario Zerial (Il ladro); Giuseppe Botta (il marinaio)
Bongiovanni – 2 CDs


This recording is reviewed in the following publications:
Opera News - June 1996 p.44
Orpheus - Dezember 1995 S.56
Opéra International - No.243 février 2000 p.73 [SS]
Diapason - No.428 juillet-aoüt 1996 p.67
Musica (Milano) - No.96 Anno 20 febbraio-marzo 1996 p.124
CD COMPACT (Barcelona) - No.84 enero 1996 p.59
Classical Express - Issue No.74 April 1996 p.8
Opernwelt - 6/Juni 1997 S.62

Links from OPERA NEWS Archives related with Leyla Gencer's Performances


VIENNA – Jérusalem, Wiener Staatsoper, 4/16/04 > Opera News > ...
VIENNA Jerusalem Wiener Staatsoper 4/16/04 M emories of busloads of Met standees trekking to Newark in 1971 to hear Leyla Gencer in Attila were conjured ...
Opera News - Viewpoint: Listening to Rossini
... Guillaume Tell's Mathilde, a distressed damsel sung in the twentieth century by
full-voiced sopranos such as Rosa Ponselle, Leyla Gencer, Montserrat Caballé

Opera News - Metropolitan Opera Broadcast: Dialogues des ...
... Dialogues des Carmélites was first performed at La Scala, Milan, on January 26,
1957, in Italian, with Virginia Zeani, Leyla Gencer and Gianna Pederzini. ...
Broadcast: Dialogues des Carmélites > Opera News > The Met Opera ...
... Dialogues des Carmélites was first performed at La Scala, Milan, on January 26,
1957, in Italian, with Virginia Zeani, Leyla Gencer and Gianna Pederzini. ...
Dialogue on Carmélites I: The Nun's Story > Opera News > The Met ...
... Poulenc congratulates Leyla Gencer, Lidoine in the world premiere of Dialogues,
at La Scala on January 26, 1957. Death by religious ...
Opera News - Diva by Definition
... Lidoine — the new prioress — proved a cozy showcase for divas-to-be: the later high
repute of Leyla Gencer, Régine Crespin, Leontyne Price and Joan ...
What to Read and Hear > Opera News > The Met Opera Guild
... may get a kick out of the post-synched black-and-white Italian video from the 1950s
under Fernando Previtali (Bel Canto, VHS; Leyla Gencer, Barbieri, Mario Del ...
Il Trovatore > Opera News > The Met Opera Guild
... investment plus a spectacular high C. Ettore Bastianini (di Luna) doesn't quite
match his astounding form in the 1957 RAI film opposite Leyla Gencer, but his
Video > Opera News > The Met Opera Guild
... Leyla Gencer, his Leonora, was not the spinto soprano dictated by tradition.
(Forget Milanov, forget Callas.) Never mind. She knew ..


Abbreviations of operadis
(STU), "STUDIO" Recording
(SE), "STUDIO" Recording of Excerpts
(STC), Composite "STUDIO" Recording made up from more than one source
(SCE), Composite "STUDIO" Recording of Excerpts from more than one source
(LI), "LIVE" Recording
(LE), "LIVE" Recording of Excerpts
(LC), "LIVE" Composite Recording from more than one performance
(LCE), Excerpts from more than one "LIVE" Performance
(RA), A Radio Performance
(RE), Excerpts from a Radio Performance
(RC), Composite Radio Performance from more than one broadcast
(RCE), Excerpts from more than one broadcast performance
(FI), Film or/and sound track of a film
(FE), Excerpts of an opera from a film or/and the sound track of a film
CELLETTI, Il Teatro d'Opera in Disco by Rodolfo Celletti - Rizzoli - 1988
EJS Discography, EJS: Discography of the Edward J. Smith Recordings - The Golden Age of Opera, 1956-71 by William Shaman, William J. Collins, and Calvin M. Goodwin - GreenwoodPress - 1994
GIUDICI, L'Opera in CD e Video by Elvio Giudici - il Saggiatore Milano - 1995. Second Edition - 1999 - is indicated by (2)
HARRIS, Opera Recordings - A Critical Guide by Kenn Harris - David and Charles - 1973
MARINELLI, Opere in Disco by Carlo Marinelli - Discanto Edizione - 1982
MET, The Metropolitan Opera Guide to Recorded Opera - edited by Paul Gruber - Thames and Hudson - 1993
MET(VID), The Metropolitan Guide to Opera on Video - edited by Paul Gruber - W.W. Norton & Co. Ltd. - 1997
More EJS, More EJS: Discography of the Edward J. Smith Recordings by William Shaman - William J. Collins - Calvin M. Goodwin - Greenwood Press 1999
NEWTON (Verdi), Verdi - Tutti i libretti d'opera edited by Piero Mioli
PENGUIN, The Penguin Guide to Opera on Compact Discs by Edwin Greenfield - Robert Layton - Ivan March - Penguin Books 1993
Discos Gramófono (Barcelona), Compañía del Gramófono Sociedad Anónima Española
Gramófono (Barcelona), Compañía del Gramófono Sociedad Anónima Española