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Beniamino Gigli - The Gigli Edition: Volume 11
Francesco CILEA (1866 - 1950) L’Arlesiana: E’ la solita storia; Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 - 1924) Manon Lescaut: Ah! Manon, mi tradisce; Pietro MASCAGNI (1863 - 1945) Lodoletta: Se Franz dicesse … Ah! Ritrovarla; Umberto GIORDANO (1867 - 1948) Andrea Chenier: Un di all’azzurro spazio; Pietro MASCAGNI Isabeau: Non colombelle! … Tu ch’odi lo mio; E passera la viva creatura; Giuseppe VERDI (1813 – 1901) La forza del destino: La vita e inferno – O tu che in seno; Giovanni MILITELLO (?) Ninna nanna grigioverde; Tenerezza; Ernesto TAGLIAFERRI (1889 - 1937)/Nicola VALENTE (? - ?) Passione; Giuseppe CIOFFI (19th /20th Cent.) Tre rose; Georges BIZET (1838 - 1875) Carmen: Quels regards! … Parle-moi de ma mère – Votre mère avec moi … Ma mère, je la vois (with Rina Gigli, soprano); Evemero NARDELLA (19th/20th Cent.) Surdate; Giuseppe CIOFFI ‘Na sera ‘e maggio; Vincenzo VALENTE (1855 - 1921) Troppo ‘nnammurato; Dino OLIVERI (? - ?) Son poche rose; Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1858 - 1919) Pagliacci: Si puo? ( Prologue); Karl MILLÖCKER (1842 - 1899) Der Feldprediger: Nur ein Traum, flücht’ger schaum aber doch; Cesare Andrea BIXIO (20th Cent.) Cinefollia; Dimmi tu, primavera
Beniamino Gigli (tenor)
La Scala Orchestra/Umberto Berrettoni (tr. 1 – 8, 13 and 14), Giovanni Militello (tr. 9 and 10), Orchestra/Dino Oliveri (tr. 11 and 12, 15 – 18), Prussian State Orchestra/Bruno Seidler-Winkler (tr. 19 and 20), Orchestra and Chorus of the Rome Opera House/Luigi Ricci
Recorded in Milan 14th – 17th June 1941 (tr. 1 – 8), in the Conservatorio Milan 23rd November 1941 (tr. 9 and 10), in Milan 20th – 24th February 1942 (tr. 11 – 18), in the Electrola Studios, Berlin 10th August 1942 (tr. 19 and 20), in Rome 29th June 1943 (tr. 21 and 22)
Milan, Berlin and Rome recordings 1941-43
NAXOS 8.110272 [76:51]

 

 

 

The long running Gigli series from Naxos now no longer needs to sport the parenthetical note to collectors that it’s ex-Romophone. The company folded before these transfers could be utilised. Accordingly this is terra incognita so far as collectors are concerned with regard to Mark Obert-Thorn’s work, which happily is consonant with his previous fine work in this extensive series.

Recorded between 1941 and 1943 they show no diminution of power, plangency or range and the powerful tension Gigli could impart is evident throughout. His Cilea immediately alerts one to the sustenance of dramatic tension at reduced dynamics and of a floated head voice of still almost incandescent beauty. The inserted B natural at the end gives the disc a cumulative power it might otherwise not have possessed.

Naturally he does sob a little – try the sole Puccini extract here - but in the extract from Mascagni’s Lodoletta we find the half catch alternating with a pungent and virile stream, a compelling duality. The examples of his Mascagni are in fact some of the most welcome of all these sides; hear the fresh vocalism that courses through the Isabeau aria Tu ch’odi or the manly heroism of E passera to glimpse something of his presence, one that vaults the grooves and locks the listener in a tight embrace. And what a stentorian bark he gives us in the Giordano and how massively theatrical he was. His Verdi – La forza del destino – is quite simply superb.

Balancing the verismo and other operatic repertoire is the light Gigli. In Militello’s Ninna he can fine down his voice deliciously and yet still vest the song with as much march and lyric profile as it needs. There’s a laugh in his voice in the Nardella and even in the brace of Bixio songs a command of the idiom, albeit one accompanied by a voguish dance-band-sounding orchestra. One will also find his daughter Rina joining him (not very successfully) in Carmen, a role he first sang in 1941 in Italian – which is presumably what led to this souvenir recording.

If you’ve collected thus far you will inevitably need volume eleven. Clearly it’s not the place to start for the tenorial novitiate but for Gigli adherents the transfers, repertoire and price will prove impossible to resist.

Jonathan Woolf

see also Review by Göran Forsling

 

 



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