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Graziella Sciutti  - The Studio Recitals 1953, 1955, 1956
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791)
Le nozze di Figaro (1786)
1. Cinque … dieci … Se a caso Madama [10:21]
2. Bravo! … Venite, inginocchiatevi [3:46]
3. Giunse alfin il momento … Deh, vieni [5:02]
Così fan tutte (1789)
4. In uomini, in soldati [2:55]
5. Una donna a quindici anni [4:06]
Don Giovanni (1787)
6. Là ci darem la mano [3:03]
7. Batti, batti, o bel Masetto [3:38]
8. Vedrai, carino [3:31]
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801–1835)
La Sonnambula (1831)
9. Come per me sereno [7:10]
I Puritani (1835)
10. Qui la voce sua soave [6:42]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797–1848)
Don Pasquale (1843)
11. So anch’io la virtù magica [5:12]
Linda di Chamounix (1842)
12. O luce di quest’ anima [5:12]
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792–1868)
Semiramide (1823)
13. Bel raggio lusinghier [5:46]
Graziella Sciutti (soprano);
Sesto Bruscantini (bass) (1); Sena Jurinac (soprano), Risë Stevens (mezzo) (2); George London (bass) (6); Glyndebourne Festival Orchestra/Vittorio Gui (1-3); Wiener Symphoniker/Rudolf Moralt (4-8); Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux/Pierre Dervaux (9-13)
rec. London, July 1955 (1-3); Vienna, May 1955 (6-8); November 1956 (4, 5); Paris, December 1953 (9-13)
ARCHIPEL RECORDS ARPCD 0372 [66:31]



“The Callas of the Piccola Scala” was a soubriquet sometimes attached to Graziella Sciutti (1932-2001). Voicewise she bore hardly any resemblance to Callas but was renowned for her acting and lively stage presence. Her voice was smallish and rather thin but she had a fluent technique. She mainly kept within the confines of her type, singing the soubrette roles, especially Mozart, well represented on this disc. Being in a pernickety mood I would state that the title of the disc, “The Studio Recitals” is a misnomer, since the Mozart excerpts are from three complete sets, recorded with the 1956 Mozart celebrations in mind. I am not certain if the remaining five titles, recorded even earlier, are culled from a longer recital or were issued on a 10 inch LP, which was quite common in the early years of the microgroove record. Everything here is the young, even very young Graziella Sciutti – she was only 21 when she recorded the five concluding arias.
 
Her light, fresh and agile voice is well suited to the Mozart roles and we first meet her in Le nozze di Figaro, where she is a lively and pert Susanna. We get the whole sequence from the beginning of the opera with the two duets for Figaro and Susanna, the secco recitative connecting them and even the following recitative, which means that we stop short before Figaro’s first aria. Through an error by the producer of this reissue the first duet is reprised, complete with orchestral introduction and Susanna’s little giggle at the end. A little slipshod, especially since Bruscantini’s initially uncharacteristically low-key Figaro isn’t the best calling-card for him to play twice. He soon warms, however, and in the first recitative he is his usual lively self. The next excerpt comes from act two and the scene where Susanna and the Countess dress up the Page as a girl. The aria, which shows Graziella Sciutti at her best, lively and eager, is preceded by the recitative. There we get some  glimpses of Sena Jurinac’s noble Countess and a little of Risë Stevens’ nondescript Cherubino. Susanna’s Deh vieni from act 4, one of the loveliest arias Mozart ever wrote, is less of an asset. The reading is inward and nuanced but too small-scale, hampered by a sluggish tempo, but the final phrases are lovely.
 
Sciutti is better suited to Despina in the two arias from Così fan tutte, where she is especially secure and involved in Una donna a quindici anni. She sounds more mature – Despina is of course no fledgling – and also vocally more secure. This is also the latest of the recordings, from November 1956, when she was still no more than 24.
 
Going directly back a year-and-a-half to the Don Giovanni sessions one can detect a slightly uneven tone and occasionally suspect intonation. She is a lovely Zerlina, however, and the two arias are well characterised – and she is charming. This is the best that can be said of George London’s coarse and blustery Don Giovanni. It’s a wonder that this Zerlina should even contemplate following him to his casinetta. Towards the end of the decade she recorded the role again in worthier company. This was the legendary Giulini recording with Schwarzkopf, Sutherland and Eberhard Wächter as a Don who could live up to his reputation for having seduced 1003 women in Spain alone – according to Leporello’s catalogue.
 
Some of the Italian arias from the 1953 sessions raise a few question-marks, mainly the lack of volume. Her technique is never in question, her coloratura is light and accurate and she has a good legato in the Sonnambula aria. Qui la voce from I Puritani is an even greater challenge but apart from the voice being a bit under-sized this is one of the best arias on the disc. Norina in Don Pasquale is another success, a role that fitted her like a glove. Maybe she isn’t enough of a bitch when compared with Alda Noni in the roughly contemporaneous complete recording on Cetra, with Bruscantini as the Pasquale of one’s dreams. Nevertheless Sciutti has the better voice. More than a decade later she recorded this opera complete for Decca with the hilarious Fernando Corena as the old bachelor.
 
Like Annina in La sonnambula, Linda di Chamounix is another ill-fated heroine in an opera that eventually ends well. O luce di quest’anima has long been a favourite vehicle for coloratura sopranos and Graziella Sciutti has the technique and the nimbleness but lacks the heft for the climactic notes. But this is an attractive reading, as is the Semiramide aria, recorded by most great sopranos in this Fach. One of the first was contralto (!) Guerrina Fabbri in 1903. Of the old ones Luisa Tetrazzini has always been one of my favourites and Ms Sciutti can’t quite compete with her crystalline clarity but is good nevertheless.
 
In spite of some reservations, lovers of lyrical soprano voices in this repertoire will find a great deal to admire. It is good to have a disc specially devoted to Sciutti, who knew her limitations and “niched” in the roles she knew were within her scope. The orchestras are good, led by expert conductors, of whom especially Vittorio Gui, sadly under-recorded, gives vivacious support in the Figaro excerpts. The mono recordings are more than acceptable even to today’s ears and the French recording from 1953 has surprisingly impressive fortes. The inlay has a track-list, names of participants and recording dates – nothing else.
 
Göran Forsling
 



 


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