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Tito Gobbi - Complete Solo Recordings
The 78rpm Recordings; The 1955 LP Recording; The Art of Tito Gobbi: Operatic Arias; Classical Songs and Arias (Arie antiche); Italian and Neapolitan Popular Songs; Romantic Songs (Arie romantiche); Extracts from complete opera recordings
Tito Gobbi (baritone)
various orchestras and conductors, Gerald Moore (piano) (CD 3 tr. 29-31; CD 4 tr. 1-10); various singers in the extracts from complete recordings (CD 4 tr. 11-19; CD 5 tr. 1-15) including Maria Callas, Nicola Monti, Victoria de los Angeles, Mario Filippeschi and Luigi Alva
rec. 1942-1964
full tracklist at end of review
EMI CLASSICS ICON 4553782 [5 CDs: 77:26 + 78:10 + 78:24 + 77:17 + 79:03]

Experience Classicsonline

Tito Gobbi (1913-1984) was given the honorary title “the acting voice” by legendary producer Walter Legge. That it was a deserved sobriquet is evident from every track in this extremely well-filled box. At no point do we encounter singing just to show off a beautiful voice. He had a beautiful voice too, but in that respect he was superseded by other baritones of his generation: his compatriot Ettore Bastianini and Brooklyn-born Robert Merrill. Neither of them was anywhere near Gobbi in acting ability. His closest rival as singing-actor was the recently deceased Giuseppe Taddei. They both had excellent voices in their prime but when they reached their fifties they lost some of the steadiness and especially Taddei developed an irritating vibrato while Gobbi tended to sound pinched at forte above the stave. They both continued to perform and record at advanced ages and their acting ability was never in question. Taddei at 65 sang a marvellous Falstaff for Karajan, Gobbi, at much the same age repeated his Gianni Schicchi and also took part in Leoni’s L’oracolo.
 
On this set we meet the young to middle-aged Gobbi in all his solo recordings and as ‘fillers’ we get more than two hours of extracts from his most famous complete opera recordings. Most of the opera arias on the first two CDs - the 1955 LP excluded - were issued on a Nimbus disc that I reviewed a couple of years ago and I refer readers to that review for closer analysis. Let me just say that rehearing them again just confirmed what a great artist Gobbi was even that early. In 1942 when several of them were set down he was not yet 30. Vivid characterisation and textual acuity are hallmarks and the way he visualizes the arias is a rare thing indeed.
 
This ability spills over also to the popular songs, some of which don’t belong to the most hackneyed. Lightness of touch and simplicity characterize his singing here. There is an obvious risk that when a ‘serious’ opera singer tackles light repertoire he will smash the music into pieces and overpower the simple melody. Not so Gobbi. He treats the songs the way a Lieder singer treats Schubert or Brahms: with light and shade instead of glorious fortissimo. In fact Gobbi is a Lieder singer, also when he takes on Rigoletto’s fool’s hood or bolsters his girth as Falstaff.
 
Towards the end of CD 2, spilling over on CD 3, we move into the LP age with his first recital disc. Several of the arias he recorded on 78rpm appear here again and one can spend hours comparing them. In 1955 he was at the height of his powers, having recently turned forty, the voice still in mint condition and further stage experience has deepened his insight. But even on those early 78s he was the characters. The differences are matters of stressing a word a little more here, of holding back a little more there. Live performances naturally differ from evening to evening when it comes to detail but the basic concept is the same. The Credo from Otello is marginally broader in 1955 but it is unmistakably the same vile Iago, just as frightening. Worlds apart from that character is the snippet from Falstaff, where he reminisces about his youth, so light and charming. Interestingly this half-minute-long excerpt was recorded at roughly the same time when he recorded the opera complete under Karajan.
 
“The Art of Tito Gobbi" was a two-LP set, issued in the mid-1960s and might be seen as a summary of his career so far. Each of the four LP sides was devoted to a separate genre. Five of the seven arias on side 1 were remakes of arias from the 1955 recital, and the remaining two - from L’elisir d’amore and Simon Boccanegra were from operas he had recorded complete a decade earlier. There is a little more strain than before but apart from that it is the old master who performs and possibly he had peered even deeper into the characters. For me these readings have been the definitive Gobbi since the early 1970s when I bought the box. Only later did I acquire his earlier versions and then I noted that in fact there was more freshness of tone but not of interpretation. Every time I listen to them, even today, I automatically visualize very vividly the role portraits of Gobbi from the booklet illustrations, aural and visual impressions working together.
 
Side 2 with Arie Antiche was interesting - I still think it is - with a continuo group accompanying Gobbi in 17th and 18th century songs and arias, several from, in their time, very famous operas. The continuo group may not be as authentic as later specialist musicians’ efforts and Gobbi may not be the first name to imagine for baroque repertoire but his professionalism and, most of all, his open-mindedness, make it wholly appealing, not just a strange whim.
 
On side 3, “Italian and Neapolitan Popular Songs”, several of his 78rpm songs appear again, probably these were very close to his heart. Santa Lucia has long been one of my particular favourites. Old friends again pop up on side 4 and the most significant difference from side 3 is that these are accompanied by Gerald Moore on the piano. The Tosti songs, as usual, stand out but it is good to have a couple of songs by Wolf-Ferrari. The last four songs (CD 4 tr. 7-10) were not on the original LPs, simply because there wasn’t room for them. Instead they were issued almost a decade later, in 1973, in “The HMV Treasury” series (HLM 7018) with a dedication from Gobbi himself to “The Venice in Peril Fund”. I can’t resist the temptation to quote Gobbi’s words:
 
Venice, created through the centuries by man with prodigious labour, is a sublime enchantment of art and a paradise handed down as a legacy to modern man. For it to be saved, any contribution is of value, and it is the duty of the whole mankind. A son of this most serene city, I offer this, my token, with true love. 

Gobbi wanted Brogi’s Visione veneziana and Mayr’s La biondina in gondoletta to be included in a disc devoted to his city.
 
The generous extracts from his most famous opera sets are a superb bonus for those who don’t already own the complete recordings. And those hearing these scenes for the first time will almost certainly want to hear them in full. There are riches galore here and will just briefly mention some absolute favourites. Maria Callas was a regular partner, on stage as well as on record and those two created unforgettable musical drama whenever they appeared together. We get a glimpse of their partnership in Lucia di Lammermoor but even more mesmerizing is the long scene from act 1 of Rigoletto (CD 4 tr. 16-17). Don’t miss it! The extract from the Nile scene in Aida is also spellbinding. The greatest Tosca and the greatest Scarpia together is another highlight (CD 5 tr. 8) and in a more light-hearted vein their duet from Il barbiere di Siviglia (CD 5 tr. 12) is hard to beat. But Victoria de los Angeles, Nicola Monti - certainly one of the finest lyric tenors during the 1950s - and Luigi Alva are also worthy partners. And Gobbi in his great solo scenes is a magnificent complement to the separately recorded arias on the previous discs.
 
A lot of this material has been in and out of the catalogues ever since it was first issued and many readers will already be well stocked. On my shelves I found, besides the Nimbus disc, a two-CD set from 2003 “The Very Best of Tito Gobbi” with much the same recordings as here. For as full a portrait of Gobbi as possible the present box is indispensable, however, and it retails at budget price.
 
Göran Forsling  

Tracklist
CD 1 [77:26]
The 78rpm Recordings
Francesco CILEA (1866 - 1950)
1. Come due tizzi accesi (L’arlesiana) [4:00]
Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1857 - 1919)
Zazà
2. Buona Zazà [1:57]
3. Zazà, piccolo zingara [2:25]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 - 1791)
4. Deh, vieni alla finestra (Don Giovanni) [2:05]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813 - 1901)
Don Carlo
5. Convien qui dirci addio! … Per me giunto [3:38]
6. O Carlo, ascolta … Io morrò ma lieto in core [4:03]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 - 1924)
7. Minnie, dalla mia casa son partito (La fanciulla del West) [2:42]
Stanislaus GASTALDON (1861 - 1939)
8. Musica proibita [3:19]
Ermengildo RUCCIONE (? - ?)
9. Famme sunn’a cu’tte [3:15]
Giuseppe VERDI
10. Era la notte (Otello) [2:49]
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792 - 1868)
11. Largo al factotum (Il barbiere di Siviglia) [4:48]
Ruggero LEONCAVALLO
12. Si può? (Pagliacci) [7:53]
Nicola VALENTE (1881 - 1946)
13. Torna! [3:40]
Francesco Paolo TOSTI (1846 - 1916)
14. ’A vucchella [2:13]
Luigi DENZA (1846 - 1922)
15. Occhi di fata [3:11]
Rodolfo FALVO (1874 - 1936)
16. Dititencello vuje [3:18]
Giuseppe VERDI
17. Urna fatale (La forza del destino) [3:32]
18. Vanne! … Credo in un Dio crudel (Otello) [4:23]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Le nozze di Figaro
19. Non più andrai [3:35]
20. Aprite un po’ quegli’occhi [2:45]
Luigi PIGARELLI (1875 - 1964)
21. La montanara (from the film The Glass Mountain) [3:31]
Nino ROTA (1911 - 1979)
22. Take the Sun (The Glass Mountain) [2:56]
 
CD 2 [78:10]
Geni SADERO (1886 - 1961)
1. Gondoliera veneziana [2:41]
2. Amuri, amuri [3:36]
Giuseppe VERDI
3. Di Provenza il mar (La traviata) [4:45]
4. Pari siamo! (Rigoletto) [4:12]
5. Pietà, rispetto, amore (Macbeth) [3:42]
6. Alzati! … Eri tu (Un ballo in maschera) [7:09]
Teodoro COTTRAU (1827 - 1879) 
7. Santa Lucia [3:27]
Eduardo di CAPUA (1865 - 1917)
8. O sole mio [3:38]
Francesco Paolo TOSTI
9. Marechiare [3:04]
Traditional
10. Fenesta che lucive [3:20]
Dino OLIVIERI
11. Nenia d’amore [3:14]
The 1955 LP Recording
Hector BERLIOZ (1803 - 1869)
12. Chanson de la puce (La Damnation de Faust) [1:32]
Gioachino ROSSINI
Guillaume Tell
13. Guglielmo, sol per te … La valanga [7:40]
14. Resta immobile [2:42]
Giuseppe VERDI
15. Vanne! … Credo in un Dio crudel (Otello) [4:59]
16. Ah, prigioniero io sono … Dio di Giuda (Nabucco) [4:36]
17. Perfidi! … Pietà, rispetto, amore (Macbeth) [5:43]
18. Quand’ero paggio (Falstaff) [0:37]
Umberto GIORDANO (1867 - 1948)
19. Nemico della patria (Andrea Chenier) [4:58]
20. La donna russa (Fedora) [2:04]
 
CD 3 [76:24]
Francesco CILEA
1. Ecco il monologo (Adriana Lecouvreur) [4:30]
Ermanno WOLF-FERRARI (1876 - 1948)
2. Aprile o bella (I gioielli della Madonna) [3:05]
Giacomo PUCCINI
3. Minnie, dalla mia casa som partito (La fanciulla del West) [2:29]
The Art of Tito Gobbi: Operatic Arias
Gioachino ROSSINI
4, Resta immobile (Guillaume Tell) [2:41]
Gaetano DONIZETTI
5. Come Paride vezzoso (L’elisir d’amore) [2:39]
Giuseppe VERDI
6. Plebe! patrizi! (Simon Boccanegra) [2:44]
7. Vanne! … Credo in un Dio crudel (Otello) [4:48]
8. Quand’ero paggio (Falstaff) [0:36]
Francesco CILEA
9. Ecco il monologo (Adriana Lecouvreur) [3:46]
Umberto GIORDANO
10. La donna russa (Fedora) [1:41]
Classical Songs and Arias (Arie antiche)
Francesco CAVALLI (1602 - 1676)
11. Beato chi può (Xerxes) [2:31]
Amtonio VIVALDI (1678 - 1741)
12. Piango, gemo (Piango, gemo) [1:57]
Giacomo CARISSIMI (1605 - 1674)
13. Vittoria, vittoria mio core [1:31]
Francesco DURANTE (1684 - 1755)
14. Vergin, tutto amor preghiera [3:19]
Giuseppe GIORDANI (1743 - 1798)
15. Caro mio ben [2:17]
Giovanni PAISIELLO (1740 - 1816)
16. Nei cor più non mi sento (La molinara) [1:25]
Traditional Neapolitan
17. Tre giorni son che Nina [1:49]
Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660 - 1725)
18. O cessate di piagarmi (Il Pompeo) [1:44]
Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567 - 1643)
19. Rosa del ciel (Orfeo) [2:50]
Italian and Neapolitan Popular Songs
Traditional
20. Fenesta che lucive [1:54]
Teodoro COTTRAU
21. Santa Lucia [1:53]
Gaetano LAMA (1886 - 1950)
22. Silenzio cantatore [2:35]
Luigi PIGARELLI
23. La montanara [3:00]
Ernesto TAGLIAFERRI (1889 - 1937)
24. Piscatore ’e Pusilleco [2:03]
Giovanni d’ANZI (1906 - 1974)
25. O mia bella Madonnina [1:32]
26. Mattinata fiorentina [1:44]
Geni SADERO
27. Gondoliera veneziana [2:17]
28. Amuri, amuri [4:06]
Romantic Songs (Arie romantiche)
Stanislaus GASTALDON
29. Musica proibita [3:53]
Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879 - 1936)
30. Nebbie [3:09]
Traditional (arr Wolf-Ferrari)
31. Se gli alberi [1:27]
 
CD 4 [77:17]
Francesco Paolo TOSTI
1. Malia [2:59]
2. Donna, vorrei morir [1:47]
3. ‘A vucchella [2:09]
4. Ideale [1:38]
Ermanno WOLF-FERRARI
5. Serenata [2:12]
6. Commiato [1:29]
Renato BROGI (1873 - 1924)
7. Visione veneziana [3:36]
Pietro MASCAGNI
8. Serenata [3:31]
Luigi DENZA
9. Occhi di fata [3:08]
MAYER
10. la biondina in gondoletta [1:57]
Extracts from Complete Opera Recordings
Gaetano DONIZETTI
Lucia di Lammermoor
11. Cruda funesta smania [2:22]
12. La pietade in suo favour [1:38]
13. Che fai? …Se tradirmi tu potrai [3:23]
L’elisir d’amore
14. La donna è originale … Venti scudi [7:31]
Giuseppe VERDI
15. Pari siamo [3:46]
16. Figlia! Mio padre! [6:40]
17. Ah, veglia, o donna [5:11]
18. Povero Rigoletto … Cortigiani, vil razza dannata [8:30]
19. Della vendetta alfin giunge l’istante … Lassù in cielo [11:31]
 
CD 5 [79:03]
Giuseppe VERDI
Simon Bocccanegra
1. Dinne … Figlia! A tal nome palpito [5:06]
Aida
2. Ciel! mio padre! … Rivedrai le foreste imbalsamate [8:09]
Don Carlo
3. Questo arcano … Dio che nell’alma infondere [6:13]
4. Per me giunto [3:00]
5. O Calo, ascolta [3:53]
Giacomo PUCCINI
Tosca
6. Tre sbirri, una carozza [4:29]
7. Tosca è un bon falcon [4:20]
8. La povera mia cene fu interotta [5:38]
Il tabarro
9. Nulla! Silenzio! [3:36]
Gioachino ROSSINI
Il barbiere di Siviglia
10. La ran la le ra … Largo al factorum [4:42]
11. All’idea di quell metallo [8:05]
12. Dunque io son [5:09]
Ruggero LEONCAVALLO
Pagliacci
13. Si può? [7:45]
Giacomo PUCCINI
Gianni Schicchi
14. Ladro! … Via! via! … Lauretta mia … Ditemi voi, signori [3:55]
Giuseppe VERDI
Falstaff
15. L’onore! Ladri! [4:11] 

 


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