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Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Il tabarro (1918)
Carla Petrella (soprano) Giorgetta; Antenore Reali (tenor) Michele; Glauco Scarlini (tenor) Liogi; Giuseppe Nessi (tenor) Tinca; Dario Caselli (bass) Talpa; Aldo Bertocci (tenor) Un venditore di canzonette (Ballad-Seller); Ebe Ticozzi (mezzo) Frugola; Orchestra Lirica di Torina della RAI/Giuseppe Baroni.
Rec. Turin in 1949. ADD
WARNER FONIT 505467-6756-2-9 [54’10]


This recording, made in 1949, is absolutely contemporary with the Cetra Gianni Schicchi which I havealso reviewed. Giuseppe Baroni, the conductor here, shows the same affinity for Puccini as Alfredo Simonetto on the other set. True, this time the big names of Giuseppe Taddei, Fernando Corena and Franco Calabrese are missing, but the sense of true Puccini drama is everywhere apparent throughout Tabarro’s grisly tale.

The sound is of its period. I take this to be a radio studio recording, and it is rather dry. Some may find this an advantage as it negates any tendency towards Puccinian splurge.

Clara Petrella is a strong Giorgetta. She is given top billing on the back cover, second billing on the front. She is strong of voice and very, very Italian. Her vibrato is not too much. She can blossom in a most Puccinian fashion, too. Just try her ‘È ben altro il mio sogno!’ (track 6), as she sings of Paris. Her parlando, too, is impressive (‘Penso che hai fatto bene a trattenerlo’, track 11).

Her Michele, Antenore Reali, has a nice bass voice and good, clear diction. There is a black-and-white photo of him in the booklet, but it is so low-quality it hardly adds to the overall picture. He colours his voice very attractively at his ‘big’ solo, ‘Ora la notte’ (track 9), making it very dark at the passage from ‘Erano sere come queste’, and especially at the word ‘Tabarro’ (the cloak of the title).

Michele, Giorgetta’s husband, is exactly twice her age, fifty to her twenty-five. The love-interest as he might be called - or the young blood that Giorgetta becomes involved with - is Luigi, here sung by Glauco Scarlini, as enthusiastic a tenor as they come. When we get the love-music (track 7) and hear the two together, we find Puccinian outpouring at its best, and well-served it is, too.

In fact there is a general enthusiasm running through this production. The Frugola (Talpa’s wife), Ebe Ticozzi, is characterful and, well, fun. The same goes for the orchestral contribution in track 2, a sort of Puccinian barrel-organ offering a parallel to Petrushka!

Baroni’s strength as a conductor is that he leads the opera towards its arrival points well, moving to a terrific climax in track 10, with both soloists and conductor conspiring to make a huge emotional effect. The ‘dolente’ playing of the orchestra in the final moments is spot-on.

Obviously this cannot be a top recommendation – not with Tito Gobbi from the 1950s looming in the shadows. Certainly worth hearing, though, especially at the price.

Colin Clarke


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