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Tito Gobbi

Tito Gobbi (baritone)
Nicola Monti (tenor)(5); La Scala Orchestra/Umberto Berrettoni (1, 6, 7, 14, 15, 17, 18); Philharmonia Orchestra/James Robertson (2, 3, 8, 10); Orchestra/Alberto Erede (4, 9, 16); Rome Opera Orchestra/Gabriele Santini (5); Philharmonia Orchestra/Walter Susskind (11, 12); London Symphony Orchestra/Warwick Braithwaite
rec. July 1942 (1, 6, 7, 14, 15, 17, 18); 2 February 1948 (4, 9, 16); 14 March 1950 (2, 3, 8, 10); 24 September 1950 (11, 12); 30 September 1950 (13); June 1953 (5)
NIMBUS PRIMA VOCE NI 7946 [76:10]

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Tito Gobbi
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791)

Don Giovanni:
1. Deh vieni alla finestra [2:12]
Le nozze di Figaro:
2. Non più andrai [3:38]
3. Aprite un po’ [2:51]
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792–1868)

Il barbiere di Siviglia:
4. Largo al factotum [4:54]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797–1848)

L’Elisir d’amore:
5. La donna è un animale … Venti scudi! [7:34]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901)

Don Carlos:
6. Convien … Per me giunto [3:46]
7. O Carlo ascolta … Io morrò [4:12]
Otello:
8. Vanne … Credo in un Dio crudel [4:26]
9. Era la notte [2:56]
La forza del destino:
10. Urna fatale [3:37]
La traviata:
11. Di Provenza il mar [4:49]
Rigoletto:
12. Pari siamo! [4:12]
Un ballo in maschera:
13. Alzati ... Eri tu [7:16]
Ruggiero LEONCAVALLO (1858–1919)

Zazà:
14. Buona Zazà del mio buon tempo [2:05]
15. Zazà, piccolo zingara [2:38]
Pagliacci:
16. Si può (Prologue) [7:58]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924)

La fanciulla del West:
17. Minnie, dalla mia casa [2:48]
Francesco CILEA (1866–1950)

L’Arlesiana:
18. Come due tizzi accesi [4:07]

Prima Voce reaches Titto Gobbi in this volume, concentrating on recordings made between 1942 and 1953 – though the balance of discs was set down between 1942 and 1950. Gobbi was therefore a youthful twenty-nine when the earliest 78s in this selection were made and it’s a tribute to him that they sound so convincingly controlled and eloquent.

His aria from Don Giovanni sounds as preternaturally assured as the similarly youthful Mozart performances of Cesare Siepi, another artist featured in this fairly recent batch of Prima Voces. Gobbi’s Deh vieni alla finestra is lyrical, easeful, beautifully spun. And there’s no barking, no forcing of the voice in Non più andrai – the concentration is entirely upon musical means and ends. Fortunately we have a fine souvenir of his Rossini in the form of Largo al factotum in which the delicious lightening of his tone imparts youthful verve and in some way compensates for a certain lack of tonal breadth and clarion projection in the voice. One thing that comes across forcibly once again listening to Gobbi is how untrammelled he seems to have been by the recording studio; he sounds uninhibited and entirely personable.

His Donizetti sees him teamed with Nicola Monti and the sense of all-conquering rhythmic élan is palpable, the two voices, both essentially subtle and lighter hued, working well together. There is a run of Verdi – Don Carlos, Otello, La Forza, La Traviata, Rigoletto. Don Carlos shows the gravity of which Gobbi was capable and Convien … Per me giunto in particular reveals a perceptive textual imagination allied to sure dramatic instinct. The Otello pair, recorded two years apart, is astutely contrasted here. The declamatory power of Vanne … Credo in un Dio crudel is not sacrificed to a loss of tonal refinement despite exhibiting a strong quotient of theatrical flair. Whereas the mezza voce employed in Era la notte tellingly demonstrates Gobbi’s expressive powers when allied to technical prowess. The same seamless qualities can be heard in La Traviata.

There are valuable illustrations of Gobbi’s way in Leoncavallo in which his lyric soul sounds perfectly at home, not least in Zazá – tremendously even and pure lyric control. Similarly there is ardency in Pagliacci with no rough edges and he reserves quite some fire in the sole Puccini extract but as with almost all these examples of his art, gestures remain appropriately scaled.

The documentary information in the Nimbus booklet, and Alan Bilgora’s notes are first class and the transfers equally so.

Jonathan Woolf


 


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