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Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

Duke of Mantua – Gino Sarri (tenor)
Rigoletto – Ivan Petrov (baritone)
Gilda – Orlandina Orlandini (soprano)
Sparafucile – Mario Frosini (bass)
Maddalena – Lidia Melani (mezzo soprano)
Count Monterone – Edio Peruzzi (bass)
Marullo – Giulio Mastrangelo (baritone)
Giovanna – Rina Benucci (soprano)
Chorus of the Teatro Communale, Florence
Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Erasmo Ghiglia
Recorded 1951
Plus arias sung by Ivan Petrov

ROSSINI Il Barbiere di Siviglia; Largo al factotum
BELLINI I Puritani; Ah! Per sempre
Gaetano DONIZETTI La Favorita; Vien, Leonora
Giuseppe VERDI Macbeth; Pieta, rispetto amore
LEONCAVALLO I Pagliacci; Si può
The Orchestra of the Maggio Fiorentino/Erasmo Ghiglia
Recorded 1951
PREISER 20017 [67.36 + 67.48]



It’s easy to overlook the many recordings made by smaller companies in Europe in the early 1950s. One, Remington, was active especially in Austria and Italy and Preiser’s retrieval of this Rigoletto was a Remington set recorded in Florence in 1951. It didn’t have a particularly long shelf-life nor did it ever make much of an impression on the international market and the reasons are twofold; firstly the recording is subfusc and secondly the cast is uneven.

That said, let’s get the demerits out of the way. As the brief note admits – Preiser provides just a cast list and track listing with a producer’s paragraph outlining the recording details – the original Remington tapes were seemingly defective. Two such tapes, in fact, threw up the same problems. The sound is very constricted and there is a raw, brazen quality to it that is especially noticeable with the desiccated violin tone. There also seems to have been some damage to the master tape on track ten (Già da tre) where there’s intermittent squawking and there’s pitch slippage on track 15 (Zitti, ziti moviamo a vendetta) and a small but unavoidable (it’s the end of Act I after all) complete break up of the sound. So it’s not an easy listen and given the vagaries of casting - only Petrov is really a headliner – this is without question an acquisition for specialists.

Petrov proves characterful and strong – not over projected. Sarri is considerably less subtle, indeed one dimensional and of the women Orlandini shows flair and projection but is brittle sounding (the recording doesn’t help at all). Ghiglia has no remarkable or ear-catching insights into the score and sounds happy to pretty much follow the leads.

Preiser has issued an all-Petrov disc, which is well worth acquiring, and they supplement it here with some arias from his repertoire, again Remingtons and made at the same time one assumes. His Rossini is hardly Tibbett like in its lasered centre but it is attractively done and his Macbeth is possibly the pick of the bunch of five, with the Pagliacci extract showing almost the same kind of intensity.

I would urge caution here to all but inveterate Verdians. Petrov enthusiasts will want it but the recording problems are such that this is really for specialist interest only.

Jonathan Woolf

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