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BERLIOZ, Nicoali Gedda, Elisabeth Vaughan, Robert Massard, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, John Pritchard

Benvenuto Cellini

Benvenuto Cellini image
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  • Nicoali Gedda - tenor
  • Elisabeth Vaughan - soprano
  • Robert Massard - baritone
  • Royal Opera House, Covent Garden - orchestra
  • John Pritchard - conductor
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109.00 PLN

3 CD:

Nr kat.: GL100618
Label  : GALA Records

Review by: Robert Levine Artistic Quality: 9 Sound Quality: 4 To work backwards, taking the bonus material first, we are presented with the type of recital that tenors simply don’t give anymore (date and place is not provided–I assume it was the mid-’60s, with Sixten Ehrling as the conductor). Nicolai Gedda was a spectacularly classy singer, capable of many levels of dynamic shading, flawless diction, big, bright, secure top notes, impeccable taste, and an ability to get “into” a role–and all of these traits are in evidence in the 55 minutes of songs and arias. A pitch problem or two and a dodged low note in Les nuits d’été are soon forgotten, and the cycle is presented in all its moods and colors. “Absence” is sung about as hypnotically as humanly possible. Gedda’s messa di voce is like an object lesson in singing. A triumphal aria from Rameau’s Castor et Pollux (I think it originally was a chorus) blazes with perfectly placed high Cs, a characterful scene from Auber’s Fra Diavolo exhibits some fine falsetto, and all of the arias exhibit lovely introspective singing as well as heroics. And those qualities–heroism, tenderness, and a secure top register–are just what the difficult role of Cellini requires. Taped at Covent Garden in 1966, the version used is Berlioz’s first, in two acts, with spoken dialogue (and the Pope instead of a Cardinal). John Pritchard and his well-rehearsed chorus, orchestra, and cast get the work’s rhythmic tics more accurately than in any live performance I’ve encountered, and the recording, though thumpy, blaring, and overloaded in any passage above mezzo-forte, is tolerable enough so that details are not lost. As suggested, Gedda is just about ideal as Cellini (he’s better here than in the 1972 commercial recording), his big second-act aria almost stopping the show, as it should. Elizabeth Vaughan is the best Teresa I’ve ever heard–fluent, girlish, absolutely pitch perfect. Napoleon Bisson’s Balducci is properly annoying; the Fieramosca of Robert Massard is strongly sung and characterized; and Yvonne Minton almost steals the show as Ascanio. If you can tolerate the sound, this Cellini–and the recital–will give you hours of pleasure.