Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati








Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Pietro MASCAGNI (1863 – 1945)
Cavalleria rusticana
Maria Callas (soprano) – Santuzza; Giuseppe Di Stefano (tenor) – Turiddu; Rolando Panerai (baritone) – Alfio; Anna Maria Canali (mezzo) – Lola; Ebe Ticozzi (mezzo) – Mamma Lucia
Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1857 – 1919)
Maria Callas (soprano) – Nedda; Giuseppe Di Stefano (tenor) – Canio; Tito Gobbi (baritone) – Tonio; Nicola Monti (tenor) – Beppe; Rolando Panerai (baritone) – Silvio
Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano/Tullio Serafin
rec. 16–25 June, 3-4 August 1953, Basilica di Santa Euphemia, Milan (Cavalleria rusticana); 12–17 June 1954, Teatro alla Scala, Milan
Synopsis and libretto with translations can be found on the bonus CD-ROM in PDF form.
EMI CLASSICS 6407222 [78:08 + 72:37]

Experience Classicsonline

These verismo twins – they were first performed together in December 1893 at the Metropolitan Opera – have been recorded innumerable times. The 1907 recording of Pagliacci, first ever complete recording of an opera. According to Wikipedia both have had more than 130 recordings! Beniamino Gigli recorded both, Cavalleria in 1940 with the composer conducting. After the war most of the leading tenors gave given their views of Turiddu and Canio: Jussi Björling, Mario Del Monaco, Richard Tucker, Carlo Bergonzi, Franco Corelli, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and José Carreras. All of these have something to offer and it is difficult to pick an outright winner. To me Jussi Björling and Carlo Bergonzi stand out for giving very nuanced and lyrical readings. In particular the Bergonzi recordings with Herbert von Karajan’s refined conducting go a long way to prove that these works are far from the simple and primitive hard-hitters that they have been accused of. I have to admit, however, that the Decca stereo sets from around 1960 with Mario Del Monaco in the tenor leads have a special thrill that is difficult to resist – when one is in the right mood.

On the present set Giuseppe Di Stefano also has ambitions to produce as many decibels as possible, singing at full throttle most of the time. There is real thrill in the duet with Santuzza, which is the dramatic climax, but Di Stefano was never a true spinto, and the raw power that Del Monaco has in abundance – and one always has a feeling that he still has something in reserve – comes to Di Stefano as an act of volition. He is as ardent as ever in the Siciliana and has his moments elsewhere too but generally speaking he overreaches himself.

Callas, on the other hand, is superb in the role that was her stage debut in a student production of the opera at the Olympia Theatre when she was only fifteen. Her voice is fresh and beautiful. nowhere more so than in Voi lo sapete which is overwhelming in its intensity and vulnerable as well. This aria is one of those that I would choose to play to people who think Callas is overrated.

Rolando Panerai is a rather average Alfio – Robert Merrill on the Björling recording surpasses him with more power and more beautiful tone. I still have to hear a recording with Serafin that is less than outstanding but here he and the Scala forces are hampered by audio leaves a lot to be desired. It may have something to do with the venue; it may also be the fault of the recording team. Producer and balance engineer are unknown.

Not recommendable, then? Any recording with Callas at this stage of her career can be recommended – even when her voice sometimes adopts unbeautiful vibrato that became more prominent after her Turandot recording. Here she is amazingly good, but the total experience is compromised in several ways.

We move to a quite different world on CD 2. Pagliacci, recorded almost exactly a year later, but in Teatro alla Scala. Now the producer is not unknown. It is the legendary Walter Legge who supervised many of Callas’s early recordings. The balance engineer is Robert Beckett and together they achieve a sound picture that is far superior to the Mascagni. By today’s standards it lacks, quite naturally, wide dynamics and pinpoint detail, but it offers more than decent mono sound, free from distortion. The best mark one can give is, to my mind at least, that one doesn’t think of the recording but concentrates on the music and the interpretation. There is little Tullio Serafin can do with some of Leoncavallo’s most glaring orchestration; on the other hand that is part and parcel of the verismo concept. It is a rather punchy performance but held within rather strict reins.

The singing is also on a generally higher level. Tito Gobbi opens the proceedings with a nuanced and moving reading of the prologue. As always he sings with ‘face’ and he is in glorious voice. Di Stefano also willingly scales down and finds the lyrical, human voice of Canio before the matrimonial conflict develops. Un tal gioco is tenor singing of the utmost beauty and sensitivity. Vest la giubba and the furious outbreaks in the second act are truly Italianate with all the feelings undisguised before our ears – and though one can hear the pain and despair he doesn’t indulge in lachrymose sobs and hiccups à la Gigli.

Nedda is less interesting as a character than Santuzza, but Callas makes the most of her aria Stridono lassù, where she sings of the birds: ‘Vagabonds of the sky, who obey only the secret force that drives them on and on’ who become symbols for her own longing after freedom. But the high-spot of the whole opera is her duet with Silvio. This was one of the items on my first Callas LP Callas in Duet and I was at once fascinated by the individuality of utterance that set Callas apart from the only other recording I then had, Carla Gavazzi on the old Cetra set, good as Gavazzi was. Here Rolando Panerai is also on top form and both singers glow like embers. With excellent choral contributions and Nicola Monty luxurious casting as Beppe/Arlecchino this is a recording of Pagliacci to challenge even Cellini’s (with Björling and de los Angeles). This is a case where I would have preferred to be able to buy the two operas separately, but then I would have had to live without Callas’s Voi lo sapete.

Göran Forsling



































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.