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Luisa Miller - tragic melodrama in
three acts (1849)
local landowner – Raffaele Arié (bass); Rodolfo, Count
son – Luciano Pavarotti (tenor); Frederica, Duchess of Ostheim and Walter’s niece – Cristina
Angelakova (mezzo); Wurm, Count Walter’s steward – Ferruccio Mazzoli (bass);
Miller, a retired soldier – Matteo Manuguerra (baritone); Luisa, Miller’s daughter – Gilda
Cruz Roma (soprano)
Chorus and Orchestra Sinfonica RAI di Torino/Peter Maag
rec. live, RAI Auditorium, Turin, 6 December 1974. ADD
Italian libretto. Plot summary in English.
43088-2 [57.07 + 79.40]
performed at San Carlo, Naples in 1849, for a long while Luisa
Miller received less than its due in terms of performances,
recordings and critical standing alike, being overshadowed
by Verdi’s later work. It’s therefore no surprise to learn
that its performance history shows long gaps. Take New York’s
Metropolitan Opera as an example: the opera’s premiere took
place in December 1929, but it seems not to have been performed
there again until 1968. Interest in the work appear to have
increased in the ’sixties and ’seventies, as evidenced by
recordings in the 1960s – on RCA with Carlo Bergonzi and
Anna Moffo, conducted by Fausto Cleva - and 1970s (on Deutsche
Grammophon, with Katia Ricciarelli and Placido Domingo, conducted
by Lorin Maazel) and on Decca (with Montserrat Caballé, Luciano
Pavarotti and Sherril Milnes, conducted by Peter Maag). This
last recording has deservedly had a good press, both at the
time of its release and since.
on this issue from Arts Music, we get the chance to hear,
in very decent sound, an Italian radio broadcast of the opera,
also conducted by Maag and featuring Pavarotti in superb
voice. It’s a live performance in front of a studio audience,
recorded a few months before the Decca recording. Pavarotti’s
superlative Rodolfo, full of passionate involvement and beauty
of tone, is one good reason for acquiring this set, even
if you own the Decca recording. Another reason is the conducting
of Maag; though his work on the Decca recording is also sensitive
and intelligently varied, the orchestral playing he induces
here is even more fully idiomatic. There is a kind of organic
unity to this performance, a sense of one phase of the work
growing out of its predecessor and giving birth to what follows,
that is absent from the Decca recording, which doubtless
involved edits and retakes and, good as it is, has a certain
slightly stilted quality when heard alongside this RAI recording.
Cruz Romero brings a youthful intensity to her interpretation
of the role of Luisa, characterising the role persuasively
and singing with engagement and nimbleness. Matteo Manuguerra
is a menacing Miller, strikingly so in Act III, and throughout
sings with admirable firmness of tone. Ferruccio Mazzoli
is an insidious Wurm, a minor masterpiece of vocal characterisation.
Raffaele Arié, as Count Walter, sings with authority and
even relatively minor roles are performed by singers of distinction,
as in Anna Di Stasio’s Laura and Christina Angelakova’s Frederica.
Throughout the work of orchestra and chorus is exemplary.
In short, a highly enjoyable set, with all of the advantages
and very few of the disadvantages of a live recording.
see also reviews by Robert
J Farr (Recording of the Month - October 2007) and
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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