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CD Review

Gioachino Rossini

Il Barbiere di Siviglia

  • Rosina - Victoria de los Angeles, mezzo-soprano
  • Il Conte d'Almaviva - Nicola Monti, tenor
  • Figaro - Gino Bechi, baritone
  • Basilio - Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, bass
  • Bartolo - Melchiorre Luise, baritone
  • Berta - Abba Naria Canali, contralto
  • Fiorello - Erminio Benatti, Ufficiale
Milan Symphony Orchestra & Chorus/Tullio Serafin
Testament SBT2166 2CDs Recorded July 1952
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When this recording was made in Milan in 1952, de los Angeles was not yet 30, and her voice was youthful, sweet, and as was the case throughout her career, utterly engaging. Here she sings Rosina as a mezzo, as the part was originally written, but she has no difficulty with the flights of soprano coloratura. She is pert, witty, and altogether charming. With one exception, the rest of the cast is at least adequate; Nicola Monti's light tenor is attractive as Almaviva and Nicola Rossi-Lemeni is a robust and convincing Bartolo. The fly in the ointment is Gino Bechi, whose Figaro is over-aged and overbearing; he coarsely shouts out his solos and domineers over the ensembles in which he appears. Tullio Serafin is in no hurry to get through the score, but keeps it moving; the sound shows its age.

De los Angeles's 1962 London recording with Luigi Alva, Sesto Bruscantini, and Vittorio Gui conducting (EMI) is generally preferable, but her vivacity and the youthful beauty of her voice on these discs just about make up for everything. If you can tolerate Bechi, this Barber is worth your attention for her alone.

Copyright © 1999, Alexander J. Morin