> DONIZETTI Lucia di Lammermoor Tansini [FC]: Classical Reviews- January 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
Lucia di Lammermoor

Lucia di Lammermoor: Lina Pagliughi, soprano
Sir Edgardo Ravenswood: Giovanni Malipiero
Lord Enrico Ashton: Giuseppe Manacchini
Raimondo Bidebent: Luciano Neroni
Lord Arturo Bucklaw: Muzio Giovagnoli
Alisa: Maria Vinciguerra
Normanno: Armondo Giannotti.
Orchestra and Chorus of the Italian Broadcasting Authority
Conductor: Ugo Tansini
Recorded in Rome from 17 to 24 May, 1939
Appendix: Additional arias sung by Lina Pagliughi:

ROSSINI: Semiramide "Bel reggio lusinghier"
William Tell "Selva opaca deserta brughiera"

BELLINI: I Puritani "Qui la voce soave"
I Puritani "Son vergin vezzosa"
La Sonnambula "A non credea mirarti"

DONIZETTI: La Figlia del Reggimento "Convien partir"
VERDI: Rigoletto "Caro nome"
Falstaff "Sui fil d'un soffio etesio"

GIORDANO: El Re "O colombello sposarti"
NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110150-51 [2 CDs 134.24]

This is a good example of the importance of the reissuing of old recordings and making them available to a wider audience. You can hear a style of performance just from the recent past (i.e. recorded sound) which now seems as antique as those of 170 years ago, when Donizetti was still composing. Since the "evolution" of the interpretation of Donizetti and Bellini, a whole style of performance practice has been lost, a victim of 3000 seat opera houses and scenery chewing performers.

For those of you raised on the Sutherland or Callas Lucia standard of performance, might find this performance both surprising and refreshing. Lina Pagliughi, our Lucia here, has a light, limpid and beautiful soprano. Although her most important work was in the period between the Wars, compared with Dame Joan's high-octane pipes, sounds like those produced by Pagliughi could be from the composer's epoch rather than ours. The style is also quite different from the high emotive passion of the several Lucia versions by Maria Callas. Pagliughi, in addition to brilliantly meeting the demands of the coloratura passages, also valued the virtues of grace, elegance and careful delivery.

Tenor Giovanni Malipiero, the Edgardo, also exhibits qualities of clarity, balance and refined vocal talent. Principally known for his Italian repertory, he was widely popular in his native land and sang in the opening concert at La Scala with Toscanini in 1946. Giuseppe Manacchini, the Enrico, and Luciano Neroni, the Raimondo, also contributed solid performances. There was also clear conducting by Ugo Tansini and fine playing by the Orchestra and Chorus of the Italian Broadcasting Authority.

A word of warning: there are a lot of cuts in this score that were common during this period. "Lucia highlights" sniffs conductor Richard Bonynge and, indeed, his version on London with his wife, Joan Sutherland and Pavarotti is about 40 minutes longer than this recording. This disk makes amends by including 37 minutes of impressive singing by Pagliughi, a full range of bel canto arias of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi. My favourite is the last piece, an out of character aria from Il Re by Giordano. There is no libretto with this set but plot summaries are included in the notes. The surfaces are clean and the sound is fresh and clear, as is common with a Ward Marston remastering.

In addition to introducing many to the extraordinary talent of Lina Pagliughi, this Lucia is an imposing and vivid performance, distinguished by the highest musical standards.

Frank Cadenhead

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