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Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901)
Presenting Aprile Millo - Verdi Arias
1. Sorta è la notte … Ernani, involami [5:05]
Il trovatore:
2. Tacea la notte [4:15]
3. Una macchia è qui tuttora! [7:32]
4. Mi parea … Piangea cantando … Ave Maria [17:28]
La forza del destino:
5. Pace, pace mio Dio [6:20]
Un ballo in maschera:
6. Morró, ma prima in grazia [4:52]
Don Carlo:
7. Tu che le vanità [11:53]
8. Ritorna vincitor … L’insana parola … I sacri nomi [6:48]
9. Qui Radames verrà … O patria mia [7:20]
Aprile Millo (soprano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Giuseppe Patanè
rec. St. Barnabas Church, Woodside Park, London. publ. 1986
Texts and translations included.
EMI CLASSICS 47396 [71:41]

One of the finest Verdi recitals from the final quarter of the 20th century … should be in every opera collection. Super!

The liner-notes for this reissue quote Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe, saying that during most of last century there has been only one great Verdi soprano at a time: Rosa Ponselle in the 1920s and 1930s, Zinka Milanov in the 1940s and 1950s; when she withdrew, Leontyne Price was there to take over. In 1985, when Dyer wrote this, Ms Price withdrew from opera and at that very moment Aprile Millo was the rising star. All of this is of course from an American point of view. There have been other important Verdi singers during the same period, notably Maria Caniglia and Renata Tebaldi to mention two distinguished Italians and German-born Elisabeth Rethberg shouldn’t be overlooked either. Anyway, Dyer’s prophecy concerning Aprile Millo may not have been completely fulfilled but the question is who should bear the laurel? We have had a number of crown-princesses but no distinct queen though Aprile Millo was undoubtedly a strong contender.
The present disc was practically universally praised when it was first issued more than twenty years ago. Ms Millo took part in a couple of complete Verdi opera recordings for Sony: Luisa Miller, Il trovatore and Aida, in all three singing opposite Placido Domingo. But for many years now she has been absent from the recording studios, even though she is still singing, having appeared as Aida at the MET earlier this season.
Coming back to this recital after so long a time was like witnessing again a volcanic eruption. Here was a singer at the beginning of her career and already fully fledged. Hers was a true spinto voice with shining top notes and an ability to expand dynamics seemingly forever. When Maestro Patanè lets loose the London Philharmonic in this impressively recorded recital Ms Millo is still there, on top of the orchestra. It is not just a matter of volume and stamina. What is most stunning about her is her truthful obedience to Verdi’s dynamic markings. This is felt in every part of this taxing programme. Leonora’s act 1 aria from Il trovatore has some ravishing soft singing and a superb crescendo followed by a diminuendo in one long phrase. Lady Macbeth’s aria is even more sensational. She manages to wring every drop of emotion out of this bleak music and colours the voice impressively. The long scene from Otello is soft and inward but so intense that one sits glued to the chair. Her sudden outbreak of terror on Ah, Emilia, addio comes as an explosion straight out of nowhere. The arias from Forza, Ballo and Don Carlo are all superbly executed and she is not for a second hampered by Patanè’s rather measured tempos. Aida was one of her great roles and she sang it in Verona in 1989 when I was there but unfortunately not in the performance I saw; something I regretted even more when listening to her readings here. Her magical final note in O patria mia is something to return to over and over again.
It is a shame that this disc has been out of circulation for so long and lovers of great singing should be deeply grateful to ArkivCD for bringing it back to the catalogue. There are full texts and translations and moreover a short introduction to each aria, giving some historical background and placing the aria in its context. Super!
One of the finest Verdi recitals from the final quarter of the 20th century. It should be in every opera collection.
Göran Forsling


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