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Opera Choruses
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792–1868)
Guillaume Tell:
1. Quel jour serein le ciel présage [4:15]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901)
La forza del destino:
2. Il santo nome di Dio Signore [7:31]
3. Rataplan, rataplan, della Gloria [3:10]
4. Va, pensiero [4:50]
5. Fuoco di gioia [2:49]
Il trovatore:
6. Vedi! le fosche notturne spoglie [3:06]
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863–1945)
Cavalleria rusticana:
7. Regina coeli … Inneggiamo [5:58]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924)
Madama Butterfly:
8. Humming Chorus [3:07]
9. Gita la cote! [2:42]
Giuseppe VERDI
10. Patria oppressa [7:02]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797–1848)
Lucia di Lammermoor:
11. Per te d’immenso giubilo [3:30]
Gioachino ROSSINI
Mosé in Egitto:
12. Dal tuo stellato soglio [5:04]
Don Pasquale:
13. Che interminabile andirvieni! [4:02]
Giuseppe VERDI
14. Gloria all’Egitto [7:19]
Ruggero Raimondi (baritone)(2); Martina Arroyo (soprano)(2); Bianca Maria Casoni (mezzo-soprano)(3); Pauline Tinsley (soprano)(7, 12); Kenneth Collins (tenor)(11); Elizabeth Shelley (mezzo-soprano)(12); David Hughes (tenor)(12); Robert Lloyd (bass)(12); David Bell (organ)(7); Ambrosian Opera Chorus, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (1-3); Chorus and orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (4-14)/Lamberto Gardelli
rec. No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London, 11 July, 1 August, 7 September 1972 (1); June and July 1969 (2-3); 5, 7 September 1971 (4-14). ADD
EMI CLASSICS 5090322 [65:57]
Experience Classicsonline

Lamberto Gardelli was one of the most reliable opera conductors for almost half a century. Directly after completing his studies in Pesaro and Rome he was chosen by Tullio Serafin to be his assistant. His conducting debut was in Rome in 1944 and two years after that he was appointed resident conductor at the Royal Opera in Stockholm, where he stayed for a decade. After some years as head of the Danish Radio Orchestra he moved to Budapest, where he worked for over thrity years. He was a conductor sought after by the leading record companies and his list of complete opera recordings is long indeed. Sets for Decca, EMI, Philips (a whole series of early Verdi operas) as well as a number of recordings for Hungaroton are evidence enough not only of his reliability but also of his deep insight and ability to instil enthusiasm into musicians and singers.
The first three tracks on this disc are from two of his highly praised EMI sets. His 1972 recording of Guillaume Tell was the first and still the only recording of this monumental work in the original French, it still has claims to be the most recommendable version, with a starry cast including Montserrat Caballé, Nicolai Gedda and Gabriel Bacquier. The chorus from act 1 is idyllic and well sung by the Ambrosian Opera Chorus. They also participate in the two excerpts from the slightly earlier La forza del destino, which is also a front-runner with top-notch Verdians like Carlo Bergonzi and Piero Cappuccilli. There’s also a young Ruggero Raimondi, Martina Arroyo and Bianca Maria Casoni, all heard on these two excerpts, though Arroyo is not mentioned on the inlay, which is a shame, since her La vergine degli angeli at the end of track 2 is so ravishingly beautiful, indeed angelic. Raimondi opens the track with smooth and sonorous singing, though he is more baritone than bass. The Rataplan chorus is lively but Casoni is a rather squally Preziosilla. The chorus though is first class.
The rest of the disc is a mixed programme of opera choruses, separately recorded with Covent Garden forces during two days in September 1971. Gardelli engaged some fine soloists here too and the result is wholly admirable. The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Nabucco is known to everyone, not only opera enthusiasts, and Gardelli is as always a sure-footed Verdian – everything seems right but there is still something missing. I only had to play the same chorus from his complete Decca recording of the work to hear the difference. There, with Vienna State Opera forces, there is incisiveness and an irresistible lilt that makes the EMI pale by comparison. Let me add, though, that in its own right the Covent Garden version is more than acceptable. The bite I felt missing is much more to the fore in Fuoco di gioia from the first act of Otello, where the joy is well caught, and the Anvil Chorus from Il trovatore is lively, though the anvil seems only medium-sized.
The Easter Hymn from Cavalleria rusticana is one of Mascagni’s finest creations and with David Bell very prominent at the organ and Pauline Tinsley a good Santuzza it is a success. I happened to listen to it on Good Friday, so I was in the right mood.
The two Puccini choruses are not to be faulted but they tend to pale against the Chorus of the Scottish refugees from Macbeth, music that is unique in early Verdi, due to the darkness and truthfulness. Verdi wrote in the score ‘come un lamento’ and it is certainly a funeral march.
The joyous second act chorus from Lucia di Lammermoor, where Lucia’s marriage to Arturo is imminent, has rhythmic thrust and not too much sophistication. The enthusiasm is infectious and Kenneth Collins is an excellent Arturo. The prayer from Mosé in Egitto is the only number from this opera that has a life of its own. The Royal Opera Chorus presents it with excellent homogenous tone and the soloists are splendid with the young Robert Lloyd a sonorous Mosé.
The festive chorus from Don Pasquale is lively as it should be and it also reminds us that this opera is one of the most constantly inspired and spirited in Donizetti’s oeuvre. Festive is also the word for the Triumphal Scene from Aida with brilliant trumpets and powerful singing.
There are brief notes on the music but no texts. The sound is good and anyone needing a collection of – mainly – standard opera choruses need look no further.
Göran Forsling


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