Classical The best music site on the web there is where you can read about and listen to blues, jazz, classical music and much more. This is your ultimate music resource. Tons of albums can be found within. Thu, 30 Jun 2022 06:34:57 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Aleksandra Kurzak & Roberto Alagna - Puccini In Love (2018) Aleksandra Kurzak & Roberto Alagna - Puccini In Love (2018)

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1 	Tosca: "Mario!" - "Son Qui!" 	12:13
2 	La Bohème: "O Soave Fianciulla" 	3:46
3 	Manon Lescaut: "Vedete? Io Son Fedele" 	5:20
4 	Il Tabarro: "É Ben Altro Il Mio Sogno!" 	3:58
5 	Manon Lescaut: "Tu, Tu, Amore? Tu?" 	7:58
6 	La Rondine: "Paulette!" 	2:16
7 	La Fanciulla Del West: "Minnie... Che Dolce Nome!" 	3:58
8 	Il Tabarro: "Dimmi: Perché Gli Hai Chiesto" 	4:53
9 	La Rondine: "Nella Tua Casa" 	6:14
10 	Madama Butterfly: "Viene La Sera" 	14:16

Aleksandra Kurzak - Soprano
Roberto Alagna - Tenor
Sinfonia Varsovia
Riccardo Frizza - Conductor


“Puccini in Love” surveys mostly well-known love duets from Puccini’s canon. Because the music will be familiar to opera aficionados, the album’s success or failure depends on whether the interpreters can make the familiar fresh.

Mission accomplished. Marketing at Sony is betting on the love-story behind the album to sell the project, but its success has little to do with conjugal passion. Other performances by virtual strangers have sounded as or more passionate. Roberto Alagna and Aleksandra Kurzak, real-life husband and wife, succeed because of their interpretive talents and deep professional investment.

Alagna is like the Bob Dylan of opera, a convincing interpreter with vocal quirks. His voice has never had the pure beauty of other major tenors and in recent years has become leathery, sometimes coarse. He sings with the abandon of a di Stefano, but the voice tends to sound more “covered” and sometimes unfulfilled.

Pitch, especially at the top, is sometimes a shade imprecise. And yet, by sheer force of will, passion, investment, and charisma he can make music ring “true.” There are other great tenors around today, but no current voice is as vital. If some inconsistency is the price listeners pay for moments of sheer exhilaration, it is a price well worth paying.

Here Alagna sounds most at home in selections that benefit from forthrightness and pulsing energy. He is on fire in the duet from “La Fanciulla del West,” “Minnie, che dolce nome,” where the music stays mostly in a comfortable range and where a certain aggressiveness is welcome. He avoids sentimentality throughout, especially at the start where others might indulge in some blooming effects in favor of a more matter-of-fact and believable rendering.

His take on Luigi’s music from “Il Tabarro” is also winning, as even shouty bits at the end of “Dimmi: perché gli hai chiesto” thrill rather than hurt the proceedings.

At other points, I wished for a little more nuance. “Vieni la sera” from “Madama Butterfly” has some of the most deliriously sensual music Puccini ever composed, requiring both manly bravado and moments of tenderness. Alagna has plenty of the first, but not enough of the second. A little too much pushing in “Tu, tu, amore? Tu?” from Manon Lescaut leads to some tonal muddiness here and there as well. Overall, though, Alagna’s work on this album is thoroughly convincing and effective.

Kurzak is this album’s true revelation. She does not have her husband’s star power nor that of his ex-wife and ex-singing partner, Angela Gheorghiu. But she is far from a second fiddle. Her voice is versatile and polychromatic. It has heft, but it can also thin out into silk-thread elegance especially in the upper reaches. In the middle she has a liquid tone, like a falling raindrop that never bursts.

Her interpretive powers are undeniable. Especially against Alagna who tends toward non-stop ripping sounds, her nuanced and varied reading of the music is refreshing. Overall, there is a blend of fragility and strength throughout.

It is a testament to Kurzak’s extreme care as an interpreter that the briefest instances become memorable. At the end of “Dimmi: perché gli hai chiesto” she sings “Come é difficile esser felici (How difficult it is to be happy)” deep in her range but without sacrificing even a little tonal clarity. The words are delivered with such convincing resolution as to make those few words worth the whole album.

But there’s more. Listen to the extraordinary way her voice ascends at the end of “O soave fanciulla” from “la Bohème.” It sounds as if it about to break, but instead it stretches out into a lovely, thin, delicate sound.

There were less convincing moments, too. Her voice sometimes gets a little unclear in thicker passages as Minnie and in the selections from “Manon Lescaut.” At the top, the tendency to thin out can lead to less happy endings than the “La Bohème” duet. At the end of “Nella tua casa” from “La Rondine” there is insecurity that veers toward sloppiness. Still, the general impression is of tonal beauty, crisp diction, and a colorful vocal palette put to excellent interpretive use.

When talents such as these come together, great things can happen. The excerpts from “Il Tabarro”– “É ben altro il mio sogno” and “Dimmi: perché gli hai chiesto”– are my favorites on this disc. Here both singers can soar high and land delicately on stretches of introspection. These tracks highlight the exciting results of matching Alagna’s heat with Kurzak’s more methodical elegance. Their musical approaches and instincts support and complement each other well.

To my ears, only one track fails. “Mario, Mario!” from “Tosca” is handled speedily with relatively little interpretive umph. Unfortunately, this is the first track. Were it not for the strength of many other selections, this meek start might have soured the whole project for me.

Part of the problem here has to do with the lackluster pacing and square shaping of the music by the Sinfonia Varsovi Orchestra as led by Riccardo Frizza. The “Tosca” duet isn’t given the expansive sweep from which it benefits, nor does the orchestra bloom at critical moments. It’s a testament to Alagna and Kurzak’s prowess that they push against some choppy conducting throughout.

This is not a “perfect” recording, but it is a must for fans of the principals and it is an important listen for anyone interested in eminently believable and beguiling interpretations of Puccini’s exquisite music. ---Freddy Dominguez,


Albumu „Puccini In Love” w wykonaniu duetu marzeń: Roberto Alagna i Aleksandra Kurzak. To pierwszy wspólny album tej pary wybitnych śpiewaków, gwiazd największych teatrów operowych Świata z nowojorską Metropolitan na czele, a prywatnie pary małżeńskiej. Usłyszymy wybór największych duetów miłosnych Pucciniego z La Bohčme, Madama Butterfly, Manon Lescaut,a także z rzadziej wykonywanych oper jak Fanciulla del West, La Rondine czy Il Tabarro.

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]]> (bluesever) Puccini Giacomo Thu, 18 Apr 2019 15:31:53 +0000
Giacomo Puccini - Il Trittico (Maazel) [1990] Giacomo Puccini - Il Trittico (Maazel) [1990]

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1. Il Tabarro (The Cloak)

Ingvar Wixell,  Renata Scotto,  Plácido Domingo,  
Michel Sénéchal,  Dennis Wicks,  Gillian Knight

2. Suor Angelica – Beginning
3. Suor Angelica – Senza Mamma

Renata Scotto,  Marilyn Horne,  Patricia Payne,  Gillian Knight,  
Ann Howard, Ileana Cotrubas,  Doreen Cryer,  Margaret Cable,  
Elizabeth Bainbridge,  Shirley Minty,  Gloria Jennings,  Ursula Connors, 
Ameral Gunson,  Della Jones

4. Gianni Schicchi – Povero Buoso!
5. Gianni Schicchi – O Mio Babbino Caro

Tito Gobbi,  Ileana Cotrubas,  Plácido Domingo,  Anna di Stasio,  
Florindo Andreolli,  Scilly Fortunato,  Alvaro Domingo,  
Alfredo Mariotti,  Giancarlo Luccardi,  Carlo del Bosco,  Stefania Malagù

Ambrosian Opera Chorus
London Symphony Orchestra
Lorin Maazel – director


Il Trittico consists of 3 short one-act operas, each lasting slightly less than one hour. According to the explanatory essays accompanying this very worthwhile recording, Puccini's original concept was to have all three performed back to back in one evening (just think of the demands on the stage crews!). Given 3 separate and distinct librettos, it thus becomes a bit more understandable why Il Trittico as a whole has not fared particularly well in terms of public enthusiasm over the years. However, in this late 1970's recording, Lorin Maazel leads 2 London orchestras and an accomplished cast of singers in a largely successful effort to show that Puccini really knew what he was doing after all. If there is a single thematic idea expressed in Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi, it is the idea of death and how it can be considered musically. Each opera uses the theme in a distinctly different way, which establishes a legitimate rationale for hearing the entire trilogy. Il Tabarro is a straightforward, gritty story of revenge murder resulting from presumed marital infidelity, while Suor Angelica is the poignant story of a morally disgraced nun who commits suicide, yet achieves salvation in the end. Finally, Gianni Schicchi clearly is the most innovative of the 3 operas. With no overture and no choral component, the libretto tells the story of an early Renaissance blue collar trickster, whose ingenuity and sleight-of-hand maneuvers cheat a grieving Italian family out of its entire inheritance after its wealthy, aristocratic patriarch dies. Perhaps Puccini's only real attempt at comic opera, Gianni Schicchi is a very interesting tale full of sarcasm and trickery, and this is probably the reason why it historically has been the most popular of the three. Schicchi truly breaks the Puccini mold, because one clearly noticeable characteristic is the lack of the glorious, soaring arias and duets/ensembles which are such a trademark of the larger Puccini works. Overall, these 3 operas present an intriguing side of Puccini, and Lorin Maazel's forces do a very nice job. All things considered, I do not think Il Trittico quite measures up to the standards Puccini set in his great full-length operas. There are few bravura, soaring melodies made to order for soprano and tenors in any of the operas, and the melodic content is noticeably more subdued compared to.... La Boheme, for instance. Still, Il Trittico should satisfy the average opera fan, and this nice recording definitely will do that. --- Henry S.,

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]]> (bluesever) Puccini Giacomo Sun, 21 Mar 2010 14:36:54 +0000
Giacomo Puccini - Manon Lescaut (Chailly) [1988] Giacomo Puccini - Manon Lescaut (Chailly) [1988]

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Disc: 1
1. Act One: Ave, sera gentile - William Matteuzzi
2. Act One: L'amour? l'amour?! - Jose Carreras
3. Act One: Tra voi, belle, brune e bionde - Jose Carreras
4. Act One: Ma Bravo! - William Matteuzzi
5. Act One: Discendono, vediam! - Townspeople
6. Act One: Cortese damigella - Jose Carreras
7. Act One: Donna non vidi mai - Jose Carreras
8. Act One: La tua ventura ci rassicura - William Matteuzzi/Students
9. Act One: La tua Proserpina - William Matteuzzi
10. Act One: Vedete? Io son fedele - Kiri Te Kanawa
11. Act One: Non c'e piu vino? - Paolo Coni
12. Act One: Di sedure la sorellina - Italo Tajo
13. Act Two: Dispettosetto questo riccio! - Kiri Te Kanawa
14. Act Two: In quelle trine morbide - Kiri Te Kanawa
15. Act Two: Poiche tu vuoi saper - Paolo Coni
16. Act Two: Che ceffi son costor?...Sulla vetta tu del monte - Paolo Coni/Voce sola
17. Act Two: Paga costor! - Kiri Te Kanawa
18. Act Two: Minuetto - Riccardo Chailly/Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Comunale di Bologna

Disc: 2
1. Act Two: Oh, saro la piu bella! - Kiri Te Kanawa
2. Act Two: Ah! Affe, madamigella - Kiri Te Kanawa/Italo Tajo
3. Act Two: Senti, di qui partiaomo...Ah, Manon mitradisce - Jose Carreras
4. Act Two: Leseaut? Tu qui? - Jose Carreras/Kiri Te Kanawa
5. Act Two: Intermezzo - Riccardo Chailly/Orchestra e C
6. Act Three: Ansia eterna, crudel - Jose Carreras
7. Act Three: ...e Kate rispose al Re - Carlo Gaifa
8. Act Three: All'armi! All'armi! - Voci
9. Act Three: Rosetta! - Giorgio Tadeo
10. Act Three: Presto! In fila! - Giorgio Tadeo
11. Act Four: Tutta su me ti posa - Jose Carreras
12. Act Four: Manon, senti, amor mio - Jose Carreras
13. Act Four: Sci tu che piangi? - Kiri Te Kanawa
14. Act Four: Sola, perduta, abbandonata - Kiri Te Kanawa
15. Act Four: Fra le tue braccia, amore - Kiri Te Kanawa

Manon... Kiri Te Kanawa
Des Grieux... José Carreras
Lescaut.... Paolo Coni
Edmondo.... Willian Matteuzzi

Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Comunale di Bologna
Riccardo Chailly – conductor


When this set first came out in 1988, it was easy to dismiss as another attempt to cash in on the excitement over the luscious voice and questionable artistry of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. But what sometimes sounded like sight-reading in the studio now seems an aristocratic version of Puccini's greedy, beautiful, riches-to-rags Manon. Though critics then complained about the premature darkening of Carreras's voice, he sounds splendid compared to his current vocal state. And Riccardo Chailly, once the paragon of corporate music-making, now seems intelligently restrained. However, if you really want a more dignified version of this story, it might be best to turn to Jules Massenet's more Gallically poised opera on the same subject. To some minds, Puccini performers must break a sweat, at least at some point. --David Patrick Stearns

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]]> (bluesever) Puccini Giacomo Tue, 16 Mar 2010 17:16:13 +0000
Giacomo Puccini - Puccini Discoveries (2004) Giacomo Puccini - Puccini Discoveries (2004)

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01. Prelude for Orchestra
02. Scherzo for String Quartet in A minor play
03. Manon Lescaut, Act 3 Prelude
04. Cantata "Cessato il suon dell'armi"
05. Scossa elettrica
06. Corazzata Sicilia
07. Inno di Roma
08. Ecce sacerdos magnus
09. Salve Regina play
10. Adagietto
11. Requiem
12. Vexilla regis
13. Mottetto per San Paolino
14. Turandot - Act 3 Finale

Joseph Calleja (Tenor)
Domenico Balzani (Baritone)
Alberto Mastromarino (Baritone)
Maria Fontosh (Soprano)
Chiara Taigi (Soprano)
Mario Luperi (Bass)
Carlo Bosi (Tenor)
Bülent Bezdüz (Tenor)
Eva Urbanová (Soprano)
Dario Volonté (Tenor)

Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Verdi Chorus Milan
Riccardo Chailly – director


To appreciate Puccini, the production notes tell us, you should know the full Puccini, and this compilation of never before heard and/or little known compositions cover the gamut, from orchestral works to choral pieces, to songs and band music, the latter of which I found least enjoyable, but still interesting. However, taken as a whole, this is a worthwhile addition to one's library. The orchestral pieces, perhaps, are the most enjoyable, reflecting my own bias for the rich sounds and emotional resonance that a full orchestra can emote. You will likely enjoy tracks 1-4. These can be enjoyed standing along as most orchestral works can. However, that is to take nothing away from the truly fine singing and orchestral work when combined in one package such as is done in track 4, where tenor Joseph Calleja, teams with the orchestra (Orchestra Sinfonica de Milano Giuseppe Verdi) ) and full chorus (the Coro de Milano Giuseppe Verdi) in "Cantata `Cessato il suon dell'armi". The result is a rousing blend of solo singing, clear performance and powerful interconnected accompaniment by chorus and orchestra. Some selections make you want to sit and listen and meditate as tracks 8 -12 with kudos to soprano Chiara Taiga in track 9, and the reverence displayed in the composition of track 10's "Adagetto", and very Verdi like Requiem connection in track 11's "Requiem"; other tracks make you feel like working around the house, or in my case, writing a review, with the cats outside and CD on full blast. The CD contains eight truly wonderful world premieres, including the Berio "Turandot" Finale (which I found annoying) and my favorite the moody, flowing "Adagetto". –

This is a very enjoyable and important collection of generally lesser known Puccini works. The conducting and performances are mostly excellent. For the historically curious, the liner notes provide chronological summaries of the the music, giving details of each piece. These notes would be much more useful if the recording actually followed the same sequence! For some strange reason, the compositions are programmed in random order, except for the first and the last. That puzzlement alone is my reason for four stars. Otherwise, wonderful. –Patrick Maschka

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]]> (bluesever) Puccini Giacomo Tue, 01 Feb 2011 19:40:27 +0000
Giacomo Puccini - The Unknown Puccini (Domingo) [1989] Giacomo Puccini - The Unknown Puccini (Domingo) [1989]

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1. A te ('O quanto è vano'), song for voice & piano
2. Vexilla regis prodeunt, hymn for male chorus & organ
3. Salve del ciel regina, for soprano & harmonium
4. Ad una morta!, song for voice & piano
5. Mentì all'avviso, song for voice & piano
6. Storiella d'amore, song for voice & piano
7. Sole e amore (Mattinata), for voice & piano
8. Avanti, Urania!, song for voice & piano
9. Inno a Diana, song for voice & piano
10. E l'uccellino (Ninna-Nanna), song for voice & piano
11. Terra e mare, song for voice & piano (2 versions): Version according to the autograph
12. Terra e mare, song for voice & piano (2 versions): Published version
13. Canto d'anime, song for voice & piano
14. Casa mia, casa mia, song for voice & piano
15. Morire?, song for voice & piano
16. Inno di Roma, song for voice & piano

Plácido Domingo - tenor
Julius Rudel (piano, organ)


This recording is of little known and obscure songs for voice and piano or voice and orchestra that Puccini wrote but were never popular enough to bring him the attention that he received with his operatic work- Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Turandot, etc. Placido Domingo is an expert Puccini tenor and he sings these songs with exquisite lyrical beauty and vocal bravura. Conductor Julius Rudel knows how to bring out the passion and golden tones in the music and the orchestra accompanies Placido with stunning precision. A te ("O quanto è vano") is a beautiful romantic piece that is sure to delight the listener. I also enjoyed the Hymns to Diana and Urania, as well the Rome anthem. The Morire song was lifted from the original score to Tosca, it is a song that Cavaradossi sings to Tosca before the execution in the last act. The music is stunning and Placido Domingo can sail through the music of Puccini like no other. He was born to sing Puccini, both unknown works and famous ones. The photo cover is of Domingo dressed up as Puccini and it's a remarkable resemblance. Very attractive cover! --- A Kid's Review,

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]]> (bluesever) Puccini Giacomo Thu, 27 Mar 2014 16:59:06 +0000
Giacomo Puccini – La Rondine (1966) Giacomo Puccini – La Rondine (1966)

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1. La rondine: Act I: Ah! No! No! (Prunier, Magda, Lisette, Rambaldo)
2. La rondine: Act I: Chi il bel sogno di Doretta (Prunier, Magda)
3. La rondine: Act I: Chi il bel sogno di Doretta (Magda, Prunier)
4. La rondine: Act I: No, adesso non burlatemi (Magda, Rambaldo)
5. La rondine: Act I: La Doretta della mia fantasia (Prunier, Lisette, Rambaldo, Magda)	play
6. La rondine: Act I: Denaro! Nient'altro che denaro! (Magda)
7. La rondine: Act I: Ore dolci e divine (Magda)
8. La rondine: Act I: E poi?; Basta. E finito. (Magda, Prunier)
9. La rondine: Act I: O mio giovine amico (Rambaldo, Ruggero, Prunier, Magda)
10. La rondine: Act I: Forse, come la rondine (Prunier, Magda, Rambaldo, Ruggero, Lisette)
11. La rondine: Act I: Forse, come la rondine (Magda, Prunier, Lisette)
12. La rondine: Act II: Fiori freschi! Fiori freschi!
13. La rondine: Act II: Chi e? Mai vista! (Magda)
14. La rondine: Act II: Scusatemi, scusate (Magda, Ruggero)						play
15. La rondine: Act II: Dolcessa! Ebbrezza! (Magda, Ruggero, Prunier, Lisette)
16. La rondine: Act II: Che caldo! Che sete! (Magda, Ruggero)
17. La rondine: Act II: Perche mai cercate di saper (Magda, Ruggero)
18. La rondine: Act II: Zitti! Non disturbiamoli! (Lisette, Prunier, Ruggero, Magda)
19. La rondine: Act II: Bevo al tuo fresco sorriso (Ruggero, Magda, Lisette, Prunier)
20. La rondine: Act II: Rambaldo!; Ah! M'aiutate! (Prunier, Magda, Lisette, Ruggero, Rambaldo)
21. La rondine: Act II: Nella trepida luce d'un mattin (Ruggero, Magda)

1. La rondine: Act III: Senti? Anche il mare respira sommesso (Magda, Ruggero)
2. La rondine: Act III: E siam fuggitti qui per nasconderlo! (Ruggero, Magda)
3. La rondine: Act III: Dimmi che vuoi seguirmi (Ruggero)						play
4. La rondine: Act III: Che piu dirgli? Che fare? (Magda)
5. La rondine: Act III: E qui?; Non so! (Lisette, Prunier)
6. La rondine: Act III: Ma come voi? (Magda, Lisette, Prunier)
7. La rondine: Act III: Amore mio! Mia madre! (Ruggero, Magda)

Magda de Civry - Anna Moffo
Ruggero Lastouc - Daniele Barioni
Rambaldo Fernandez - Mario Sereni
Lisette - Graziella Sciutti
Prunier - Piero de Palma
Yvette - Sylvia Brigham-Dimiziani
Bianca - Virginia De Notaristefani
Suzy - Franca Mattiucci
Gobin - Fernando Jacopucci
Périchaud - Mario Basiola II
Maggiordomo - Robert El Hage

RCA Italiana Orchestra and Chorus
Francesco Molinari-Pradelli


La rondine (The Swallow) is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Giuseppe Adami, based on a libretto by Alfred Maria Willner and Heinz Reichert. It was first performed at the Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo (or the Théâtre du Casino) in Monte Carlo on 27 March 1917.


Contrary to popular opinion, this was not the first complete commercial recording of LA RONDINE. There was a 1955 LP version on Columbia starring Eva de Luca, Giacinto Prandelli (still very much alive and extremely active on the lecture circuit in Europe as of this writing) and Ornella Rovero (who appears as Lisette on the 1958 DVD from VAI). Following this RCA recording were more famous ones starring Kiri Te Kanawa and Placido Domingo - which was well sung, showed advanced recording technology, but had zero personality - and the more recent reading by Gheorgiu and Alagna (which - the added tenor aria aside - was almost completely useless, being merely an advertising ploy by EMI to have the "Love Couple" sing everything). Additionally, there are live performances on CD, most notably starring Licia Albanese (sounding tentative and unrehearsed) and Cecilia Gasdia (who sounded pretty but bland).

It was this RCA version, recorded in July 1966, that has set the standard and will probably never be surpassed. Anna Moffo's luscious voice, combined with her complete understanding of and sympathy with the lead role of Magda is perfection. She was well suited to this role, at least, in the studio, and makes it seem far more than the usual distant cousin to LA TRAVIATA's Violetta. Nowhere is there the feeling that her rather small voice is getting lost in orchestra or during ensemble sections. Daniele Barioni brings more facets to Ruggero's personality than anyone before or since; Mario Sereni adds a humanity to the wealthy Rambaldo that makes the listener understand why Magda would return to him at the end of the opera. The second pair of lovers is interestingly cast. Graziella Sciutti's rather tart tone works better in the role of Lisette than almost any other part she sang, although she brought distinction to everything from FIDELIO's Marzelline to FIGARO's Susanna. It is a pleasure and a privilege to hear comprimario tenor Piero De Palma promoted to the leading role of poet Prunier, especially when it is handled with the relish and sensitivity displayed here. Francesco Molinari-Pradelli's conducting shows real intelligence, avoiding the deliberate tempo changes that most conductors exaggerate when leading this work.

Let's not forget the music itself. Even when it is performed in a less than perfect fashion (it requires a tremendous amount of precision in its detail for principals, chorus and orchestra), it is an intensely moving experience. Handled the way it is on this recording, it could melt the heart of a stone. While the third act has always been somewhat of a letdown after the brilliance of the preceding two, the artistry evidenced here makes the characters' decisions seem far less contrived. This is a recording that deserves to be treated with the same reverence as is paid to the 1953 recording of TOSCA (with Callas, di Stefano, Gobbi and De Sabata conducting). Bravo to all concerned: this is an achievement that will hopefully be enjoyed by many, many generations to come. ---A. Scott

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]]> (bluesever) Puccini Giacomo Sun, 29 May 2011 08:59:05 +0000
Giacomo Puccini – Madama Butterfly (Karajan) [1997] Giacomo Puccini – Madama Butterfly (Karajan) [1997]

Disc: 1
1. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act One: E Soffitto... E Pareti...
2. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act One: Questa È La Cameriera
3. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act One: Dovunque Al Mondo
4. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act One: Quale Smania Vi Prende!
5. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act One: Quanto Cielo!...Ancora Un Passo Or Via
6. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act One: Gran Ventura
7. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act One: L'imperial Commissario
8. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act One: Vieni, Amor Mio!
9. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act One: Leri Son Salita Tutta Sola
10. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act One: Ed Eccoci In Famiglia
11. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act One: Vieni La Sera
12. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act One: Bimba Dagli Occhi Pieni Di Malia
13. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act One: Vogliatemi Bene, un Bene Piccolino
14. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: E Lzaghi Ed Lzanami
15. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: Un Bel Di Vedremo
16. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: C'è. Entrate
17. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: Non Lo Sapete Insomma

Disc: 2
1. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: A Voi Però Giurerei Fede Costante
2. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: Ora A Noi
3. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: E Questo? E Questo?
4. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: Che Tua Madre Dovrà
5. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: Lo Scendo Al piano
6. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: Vespa! Rospo Maledetto!
7. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: Una Nave Da Guerra
8. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: Scuoti Quella Fronda Di Ciliegio
9. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: Or Vienmi Ad Adornar
10. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: Humming Chorus
11. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: Oh Eh! Oh Eh! Oh Eh!
12. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: Povera Butterfly!
13. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: Lo So Che Alle Sue Pene
14. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: Addio, Fiorito Asil
15. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: Glielo Dirai?
16. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: Che Vuol Da Me?
17. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: Come Una Mosca Prigioniera
18. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act Two: Con Onor Muore

Maria Callas (Soprano)
Renato Ercolani (Tenor)
Mario Carlin (Tenor), 
Lucia Danieli (Mezzo Soprano)
Mario Borriello (Baritone)
Nicolai Gedda (Tenor), 
Luisa Villa (Mezzo Soprano)
Plinio Clabassi (Bass)
Enrico Campi (Bass)

Orchestra E Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala
Herbert von Karajan - director


This recording, dating from 1955, is in the EMI Great Recordings of the Century series. I have to admit, to my shame, that I have not previously encountered this in its entirety although I have heard bits in highlight compilations. Having said that, I have read lots about Callas and the vocal problems she encountered around the time this was made. Trying to put all this previous knowledge to one side I sat and listened.

The mono sound takes a bit of getting used to but I soon became less aware of it. The opera plot revolves round the four main characters: Sharpless, Pinkerton, Butterfly and Suzuki; the first the voice of sense and reason, the second the carefree American serviceman, the third, the disillusioned, ultimately discarded, foreign bride; and the fourth the long-suffering servant who can only look on and give what aid she can.

Pinkerton sung by Nicolai Gedda is a much more sympathetic character than we normally encounter with interpreters of this role; they mostly sound like insensitive cads! Listen to the way he sings after the encounter with Butterfly’s uncle, the Bonze. He is full of sympathy and concern, which gives Butterfly all the more reason to think that this is a truly western marriage rather than a Japanese one which is like a contract, and needs to be renewed annually. Gedda is also one of the best tenors in the duet at the end of Act 1. This is not just a big showpiece; this Pinkerton reacts to the situation and seduces his Butterfly vocally. Gedda also gives us a sense of regret - which other singers can miss - in the final aria ‘Addio, fiorito asil’ and integrates this into the drama. It’s a truly remarkable performance.

Sharpless can be a bit of a cardboard character – something of a sounding-board for the other singers - but in the hands of Mario Borriello he is a sensitive man with real feelings. In Borriello’s case you detect his disgust at how Pinkerton treats his Japanese bride. He sounds truly taken aback when Butterfly produces the child and becomes angry at Pinkerton’s abandonment of this family. This aspect can also be heard when, near the end, he keeps saying to Pinkerton ‘I told you so’. Borriello makes much of this character and he comes across as three-dimensional and no mere cipher. The true star of this recording is Maria Callas. She uses her voice in a way that I have seldom heard from other singers in this role. In Act 1 she gives us a very sweet, innocent-sounding Butterfly. After the entrance - in which she soars up to the high D flat - she depicts all the innocence of this child-bride; as she tells Sharpless, she is only 15 years old. Later in the Act she and Pinkerton sing together tenderly. The duet starts quietly, lovingly, and rises to a musical as well as emotional climax of an intensity that I have seldom heard on a recording or live. Suzuki on this recording, Lucia Danieli, matches Callas in the duets and creates a sensitive portrayal of the servant who is caring for her mistress.

In Act 2, there are many passages where I get the impression that she is trying to convince herself as much as Suzuki that Pinkerton will return; for example the exchanges before ‘Un bel di. When Sharpless arrives with the letter from Pinkerton she regains the girlish sound from the first Act until she realises that perhaps he is not going to come back, and that is why he has been away for three years. However, when they see an American ship enter the harbour she and Suzuki are almost breathless in anticipation until they see the name, and it is his ship. In this recording the Flower Duet has a forced gaiety about it, almost as if they know it will end badly, but hope against all the odds that it will not. After their all-night vigil waiting for Pinkerton to arrive there is weariness in Callas’s voice which underlines the fact she has lost hope of him returning. Later, when she sees Kate Pinkerton in the garden she realises the truth of the situation. Callas sings here with a pathos which truly brought a lump to my throat, something I have not experienced even in the best performance in the opera house – quite a shattering experience. Her final aria, ‘Tu, Tu, Piccolo iddio’ is filled with total despair and leads to the inevitable conclusion of her taking her own life. This is a committed performance by Callas. Yes, one or two notes do flap about like a flag in a gale, but in a way, this is in keeping with her character’s emotional frame of mind. The sheer force of her personality carries you along.

Karajan leads the orchestra to great heights and colours the score with a vibrancy and delicacy of a Japanese silk picture. It is full of clear detail - in spite of the mono sound - which fits with the efforts of the principal singers. I cannot remember a recording of this vintage where this orchestra has played so well. A totally integrated performance from all concerned.

The question - is it worthy to be called a Great Recording of the Century? From my point of view it is one of the greatest interpretations committed to disk. It moved me right through to the final chord which rips at the emotions in a way that very few performances of any opera have done for many a year. EMI are right to keep this masterpiece in the catalogue. -- Arthur Smith, MusicWeb International

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]]> (bluesever) Puccini Giacomo Sun, 25 Oct 2009 16:18:59 +0000
Giacomo Puccini – Tosca (Muti) [1993] Giacomo Puccini – Tosca (Muti) [1993]

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Disc 1:

    1 Tosca, opera: Act 1. Ah! Finalmente!
    2 Tosca, opera: Act 1. E sempre lava!...Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae...Che fai?
    3 Tosca, opera: Act 1. Dammi i colori!
    4 Tosca, opera: Act 1. Recondita armonia
    5 Tosca, opera: Act 1. Gente l? dentro!
    6 Tosca, opera: Act 1. Mario! Mario! Mario! - Son qui!...
    7 Tosca, opera: Act 1. Ah, quegli occhi...- Qual occhio al mondo pu? star di paro
    8 Tosca, opera: Act 1. Mia gelosa!
    9 Tosca, opera: Act 1. E buona la mia Tosca...Siam soli?
    10 Tosca, opera: Act 1. Sommo giubilo, Eccellenza!
    11 Tosca, opera: Act 1. Un tal baccano in chiesa!
    12 Tosca, opera: Act 1. Or tutto ? chiaro...Mario?! Mario?!
    13 Tosca, opera: Act 1. Ed io venivo a lui tutta dogliosa
    14 Tosca, opera: Act 1. Tre sbirri...Una carrozza...Adjutorum nostrum in nomine Domini

Disc 2:

    1 Tosca, opera: Act 2. Tosca ? un buon falco!
    2 Tosca, opera: Act 2. Ha pi? forte sapore la conquista violenta...Spoletta ? giunto
    3 Tosca, opera: Act 2. Meno male!...Egli ? l?
    4 Tosca, opera: Act 2. Ov'? Angelotti?...Mario, tu qui?!
    5 Tosca, opera: Act 2. Ed or fra noi parliam da buoni amici
    6 Tosca, opera: Act 2. Sciarrone: che dice il Cavalier?
    7 Tosca, opera: Act 2. Ors?, Tosca, parlate...Mario, consenti ch'io parli?
    8 Tosca, opera: Act 2. Floria...- Amore...
    9 Tosca, opera: Act 2. Nel pozzo del giardino. Va, Spoletta! - M'hai tradito!...Eccellenza, quali nuov
    10 Tosca, opera: Act 2. Se la giurata fede devo tradir, ne voglio altra mercede
    11 Tosca, opera: Act 2. Vissi d'arte
    12 Tosca, opera: Act 2. Vedi, le man giunte io stendo a te!
    13 Tosca, opera: Act 2. E qual via scegliete? - La pi? breve!
    14 Tosca, opera: Act 2. Tosca, finalmente mia!
    15 Tosca, opera: Act 3. Io de' sospiri
    16 Tosca, opera: Act 3. Mario Cavaradossi? A voi
    17 Tosca, opera: Act 3. Introduzione
    18 Tosca, opera: Act 3. E lucevan le stelle
    19 Tosca, opera: Act 3. Ah! "Franchigia a Floria Tosca..."
    20 Tosca, opera: Act 3. O dolci mani
    21 Tosca, opera: Act 3. Senti...l'ora ? vicina
    22 Tosca, opera: Act 3. Amaro sol per te m'era il morire
    23 Tosca, opera: Act 3. E non giungono
    24 Tosca, opera: Act 3. L'ora! - Son pronto
    25 Tosca, opera: Act 3. Come ? lunga l'attesa!
    26 Tosca, opera: Act 3. Presto, su! Mario! Mario!...E lei

Carol Vaness (Soprano)
Giuseppe Giacomini (Tenor)
Giorgio Zancanaro (Baritone)
Danilo Seraiocco (Bass)
Alfredo Mariotti (Tenor)
Piero de Palma (Tenor),
Orazio Mori (Tenor)
Jeffrey {boy sop} Smith (Boy Soprano)
Charles Austin (Bass)

Philadephia Orchestra
Riccardo Muti - conductor


This release may not top any best-of lists among the numerous recordings of Tosca, but it offers excellent value per dollar. (If money is no object, go back to Renata Scotto's recording or even the sonically questionable but dramatically seething 1953 Maria Callas version, now available on EMI, a benchmark example of how to bring the grim events of this opera to affecting life.) The present recording, put together from two live performances recorded in Philadelphia in 1991 and 1992, features fine singing but is really something of an orchestrally, conductorially conceived Tosca. Riccardo Muti leads the Philadelphia Orchestra, obtaining a lushness and acrobatic excitement that bring the orchestra to the center of the drama and offer ample evidence of how Muti got to be one of today's hot conductors. The orchestra's brasses deliver absolutely crackerjack playing, right from the opera's sudden opening plunge into the action. Carol Vaness as Tosca is every bit the diva, and Giuseppe Giacomini is an exciting, big-voiced Cavaradossi. The only major complaints come from factors extraneous to the music; Decca's packaging job here could give budget releases a bad name. No printed libretto is included; instead, you're supposed to use the enhanced CD to get the libretto. But of course this makes it impossible to use the expensive speakers you bought so you could enjoy your opera collection. Many opera lovers, it is true, have Tosca in their bones, but even they might want to check a line or two -- and what about the newcomers typically attracted to budget series? It seems difficult even to play the recording on a computer while reading the text, so really there is no enhancement at all here. For those who know every line of the opera, however, this is a unique and worthwhile modern version. ---James Manheim, Rovi

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]]> (bluesever) Puccini Giacomo Sun, 25 Oct 2009 16:23:13 +0000
Giacomo Puccini – Turandot (Mehta) [1990] Giacomo Puccini – Turandot (Mehta) [1990]

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Disc 1
1. Puccini: Turandot / Act 1 - Popoli di Pekino!	Zubin Mehta	5:35	
2. Puccini: Turandot / Act 1 - Gira la cote!	Zubin Mehta	7:03
3. Puccini: Turandot / Act 1 - O giovinetto! Grazia, grazia!	Zubin Mehta	4:59	
4. Puccini: Turandot / Act 1 - Figlio, che fai?	Zubin Mehta	1:39	
5. Puccini: Turandot / Act 1 - Fermo! Che fai? T'arresta	Zubin Mehta	6:15
6. Puccini: Turandot / Act 1 - Signore, ascolta	Zubin Mehta	2:40
7. Puccini: Turandot / Act 1 - Non piangere Liù	Zubin Mehta	5:03
8. Puccini: Turandot / Act 2 - Olà, Pang! Olà, Pong!	Zubin Mehta	3:17	
9. Puccini: Turandot / Act 2 - Ho una casa nell'Honan	Zubin Mehta	3:42	
10. Puccini: Turandot / Act 2 - O mondo, O mondo	Zubin Mehta	5:33
11. Puccini: Turandot / Act 2 - Introduzione (Scene 2)	Zubin Mehta	1:00
12. Puccini: Turandot / Act 2 - Gravi, enormi ed impotenti	Zubin Mehta	3:27	
13. Puccini: Turandot / Act 2 - Un giuramento atroce mi costringe	Zubin Mehta	4:03
14. Puccini: Turandot / Act 2 - Popolo di Pekino	Zubin Mehta	1:48	

Disc 2:
1. Puccini: Turandot / Act 2 - In questa reggia	Zubin Mehta	6:34
2. Puccini: Turandot / Act 2 - Straniero, ascolta	Zubin Mehta	6:49
3. Puccini: Turandot / Act 2 - Gloria, gloria, o vincitore	Zubin Mehta	4:07	
4. Puccini: Turandot / Act 2 - Tre enigmi m'hai proposto	Zubin Mehta	4:03	
5. Puccini: Turandot / Act 3 - Introduzione - Così comanda Turandot	Zubin Mehta	3:25
6. Puccini: Turandot / Act 3 - Nessun dorma!	Zubin Mehta	6:42	
7. Puccini: Turandot / Act 3 - Principessa divina!	Zubin Mehta	7:11	
8. Puccini: Turandot / Act 3 - Tu che di gel sei cinta	Zubin Mehta	2:52
9. Puccini: Turandot / Act 3 - Liù! Liù! Sorgi! Sorgi!	Zubin Mehta	4:41	
10. Puccini: Turandot / Act 3 - Principessa di morte!	Zubin Mehta	3:17	
11. Puccini: Turandot / Act 3 - Che è mai di me?	Zubin Mehta	2:46	
12. Puccini: Turandot / Act 3 - "Del primo pianto" - "Più grande vittoria non voler"Zubin Mehta	3:57
13. Puccini: Turandot / Act 3 - So il tuo nome!	Zubin Mehta	2:13
14. Puccini: Turandot / Act 3 - "Diecimile anni al nostro Imperatore"-"Padre augusto" augusto"	Zubin Mehta	2:23

Joan, Dame Sutherland (Soprano)
Peter, Sir Pears (Tenor)
Nicolai Ghiaurov (Bass)
Luciano Pavarotti (Tenor)
Montserrat Caballe (Soprano)
Tom Krause (Baritone)
Pier Francesco Poli (Baritone)
Piero de Palma (Tenor)
Sabin Markov (Bass) 

London Philharmonic Orchestra
Zubin Mehta – conductor, 1972


Decca's 1972 recording of Turandot features an all-star cast led by Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti. Turandot doesn't seem like the most natural role for Sutherland and she never sang it on-stage, but she adapts to its requirements with panache, delivering a performance with an impressive dramatic range and dazzling vocal mastery. Pavarotti was close to the height of his powers when he made the recording and he sings with his characteristic passion and warmth. Montserrat Caballé, who had also sung the title role, is fabulous as Liù, creating a vivid characterization and singing with exceptional purity. It's real luxury casting to have singers of the reputation of Nicolai Ghiaurov, Peter Pears, and Tom Krause in the roles of Timur, the Emperor, and Ping, and they each bring great artistry to these small roles. The London Philharmonic Orchestra plays the score with sparkle and spirit, and the John Alldis Choir is terrific in the crucial choral parts. Zubin Mehta captures the Romantic sweep and the colorful strangeness of the opera and gives it a convincing, dramatic shape. The sound is mostly good, but doesn't quite have the depth or presence typical of Decca's best opera recordings. --- Stephen Eddins, Rovi

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]]> (bluesever) Puccini Giacomo Sun, 25 Oct 2009 16:24:23 +0000
Puccini - Gianni Schicchi (1949) Puccini - Gianni Schicchi (1949)

Gianni Schicchi.........Italo Tajo
Lauretta................Licia Albanese
Rinuccio................Giuseppe Di Stefano
Nella...................Paula Lenchner
Ciesca..................Thelma Votipka
Zita....................Cloe Elmo
Gherardo................Alessio De Paolis
Betto...................George Cehanovsky
Marco...................Gerhard Pechner
Simone..................Virgilio Lazzari
Gherardino..............Reginald Tonry, Jr.
Spinelloccio............Melchiorre Luise
Amantio.................Lorenzo Alvary
Pinellino...............Osie Hawkins
Guccio..................John Baker

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus
Conductor...............Giuseppe Antonicelli


Gianni Schicchi is a comic opera in one act by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Giovacchino Forzano, composed in 1917–18. The libretto is based on an incident mentioned in Dante's Divine Comedy. The work is the third and final part of Puccini's Il trittico (The Triptych)—three one-act operas with contrasting themes, originally written to be presented together. Although it continues to be performed with one or both of the other trittico operas, Gianni Schicchi is now more frequently staged either alone or with short operas by other composers. The aria "o mio babbino caro" is one of Puccini's most well known, and one of the most popular arias in opera.

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]]> (bluesever) Puccini Giacomo Mon, 13 Aug 2012 18:46:43 +0000