Academic journal article ARSC Journal

Verdi: Rigoletto

Academic journal article ARSC Journal

Verdi: Rigoletto

Article excerpt

Verdi: Rigoletto. Live performance, Mexico City, 1952; Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano, Piero Campolonghi, etc., Mugnai, Cond. Immortal Performances IPCD 1021-2 (2 CDs).

Callas sang Gilda on stage only twice, first in this 17 June 1952 Mexico City performance and again four days later. She lowered the key of "Caro nome" a half step, a small concession for us to hear her heavier-than-usual voice in a fragile portrayal that is heartfelt and extremely touching. We hear much of the same interpretation in her 1955 EMI studio recording, following close on recordings of Madama Butterfly and Aida in the same six-week period, but this appealing earlier live performance presents her in fresher voice, though also containing cuts and musical flaws.

This new release is the first live Callas issue from Richard Caniell's Immortal Performances label, with more promised to come. Sadly, it is a great disappointment. About the only good news here is that this Rigoletto is on pitch, unlike many other versions. We hear a quite noisy shallow presentation replete with billowing distortion, and basic click and pop removal has not been carried out, despite a claim to the contrary. …

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