This is the second
such volume to come my way. The
first left me distinctly under-whelmed,
suggesting that it might only be for
die-hard Alfredo Kraus fans. Well, Kraus
does feature here again, but there is
much less of him. Interesting, though,
to see Katia Ricciarelli and Ruggero
But passing interest
only. The same poor picture quality
that marred the first version remains.
The orchestra and conductor on this
occasion are marginally more on the
ball, and some of the repertoire choices
are interesting, mixed in with well-worn
Verdi’s Vespri siciliani
Overture presents an orchestra whose
sound is rather cramped together, with
thin tuttis. Nevertheless, there is
some energy that runs through the performance
(although brass are under-powered towards
the end). Camera-work is a little strange
- who wants to watch violins and violas
playing accompaniment figures?.
The first vocal work
is the Bellini excerpt, with Raimondi
and Coni. Raimondi has a large voice
and phrases naturally; Coni is nicely
tonally differentiated form his partner.
Raimondi shines later, too, imparting
an impressive authority to ‘Vieni la
mia vendetta’ from Donizetti’s Lucrezia
Borgia (nice to hear this).
excerpt features lacklustre orchestral
accompaniment and an inexpressive face
from the soloist redolent of Michelangeli.
Nevertheless, Kraus’s good diction and
pitching meant that this was enjoyable.
‘Bollenti spiriti’ is lovingly phrased.
The voice is on fairly good form, if
not massively strong any more.
Ricciarelli is here
on good form. Interesting that her solo
number is ‘Vissi d’arte’, for her Tosca
with Karajan (DG, 413 815-2) represents
one of Ricciarelli’s more famous recordings.
Here she is rapt, floating the voice
nicely at the end. The Offenbach duet
(with a magnificently warm, strong Lucia
Valentini-Terrani) is a similar success.
solo spot (from Semiramide) is
an unqualified success. She is expressive
in the slower sections (it all feels
as if it is entirely natural to her),
and her sense of line is beyond reproach.
The multiplicity of camera angles, may
detract, but this remains the highlight
of the DVD (worth the price alone).
At the end, she looks eminently pleased
with herself - and with justification!).
Paolo Coni’s excerpt
from Don Carlo (‘Carlos’ on the
back of the case, despite the use of
Italian text) reveals impressive breath
control for the long melodies.
Finally, a Gounod Trio
(so not a free-for-all, this time) Ricciarelli
soars magnificently over the textures,
but could we not have something that
included la Valentini-Terrani?.
Again, a mixed bag
with some interesting items.