When RCA Victor released this issue back in the fifties it quickly attained cult status in the American market.
Featuring the magnificent Jussi Björling in his prime, the titanic Robert Merrill and the spellbinding Roberta Peters, this recording is indeed the stuff of which legends are made. Merrill's Rigoletto is outstanding, he brings out all the genial craftiness of that character matched by a powerfully evocative voice. The same could be said of Roberta Peters' Gilda, mercurial and dazzlingly pure, the remorse that one feels at the end of the opera is quite haunting. What can one say of Jussi Bjoerling? An aristocratic Duke of Mantua such as his has never been surpassed, all the banal traits of character and evil are ruthlessly and matchlessly evoked. Sparafucile is the underrated Giorgio Tozzi, another first class exponent of the assassin.
Jonel Perlea and the Rome Opera forces have this music in their bones with Lewis Layton and Richard Mohr producing another sensational recording. A brief synopsis and full libretto make this issue an absolute bargain and it is highly recommended.
Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech