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CD Review

Giuseppe Verdi


  • The Duke of Mantua, Carlo Bergonzi
  • Rigoletto, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
  • Gilda, Renata Scotto
  • Sparafucile, Ivo Vinco
  • Maddalena, Fiorenza Cossotto
  • Giovanna, Mirella Riorentini
  • Count Monterone, Lorenzo Testi
  • Marullo, Virglio Carbonari
  • Borsa Matteo, Piero di Palma
  • Count Ceprano, Alfredo Giacomotti
  • Countess Ceprano, Catarina Alda
  • Usher, Giuseppe Morresi
  • Page of the Duchess, Catarina Alda
Orchestra & Chorus of the Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Rafael Kubelík
Deutsche Grammophon 437704-2 2CDs July 1964 ADD
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Renata Scotto – a Gilda? This was my first thought when I saw this recording advertised. It is currently not available in the U.S. – only as an Import. My experience with Scotto's voice has been in the latter part of her career. I have found her tolerable though shrill at times. A full-bodied intense voice, it was one I never associated with coloratura roles. Boy was I wrong. In this recording, her top registers were anything but shrill. She shows an amazing flexibility and control. Her Caro nome is one to be heard many times. She reaches a high D and decrescendo's to an incredible ppp. I felt the aria drug a little in tempo, but the gorgeous sound more than made up for it. This recording makes me want to buy her Traviata if she has one available.

As Rigoletto, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau has the vocal power demanded by the score. Too often he sounded as if he was delivering a recital of Leider. A smooth velvet sound was his mark throughout. In his duets with Gilda, this payed off handsomely. Even in his dealings with the courtiers after Gilda's abduction he showed us a rarely seen Dietrich blustery side. He picked up some of the visciousness for the final duet in the second act but the majority was too good to be true. Everywhere but his dealings with Gilda requires harsh almost crude sounds in keeping with his general character. Fischer-Dieskau gave a very solid performance. His voice at times, however, did not match the situation.

Carlo Bergonzi has a wonderful tenor although at times a little excessive on the vibrato. He captured the care-free nature of the Duke to an exact measure. At the end of Addio, speranza ed anima he ended it in a high D. This D is one of the most resonant vibrant notes ever captured on a recording. It is not that strong, but the quality is great. This recording makes me a Bergonzi fan.

Fiorenzo Cossotto made a formidable match for Sparafucile as sung by Ivo Vinco. The comprimario roles were well handled. The chorus and orchestra well directed. Kubelík kept a firm pace throughout. A performance worth purchasing.

Copyright © 1997, Stephen L. Parker