Magazine article Gramophone

Orfeo Issues Munich's Christmas Cav & Pag

Magazine article Gramophone

Orfeo Issues Munich's Christmas Cav & Pag

Article excerpt

Mascagni Cavalleria rusticana  Leonie Rysanek sop      Santuzza Placido Domingo ten      Turiddu Benito di Bella bar        Alfio Ruth Falcon sop             Lola Astrid Varnay sop     MammaLucia  Leoncavallo Pagliacci  PlacidoDomingoten         Canio Teresa Stratassop         Nedda Benito di Bella bar       Tonio Wolfgang Brendel bar     Silvio NorbertOrth ten           Beppe 

Chorus of the Bavarian State Opera; Bavarian State Orchestra/NelloSanti

Orfeo (M) (2) C845 1221 (146' * ADD) Recorded live, December 25, 1978

We know European theatre traditions--and the first opera here does play at Easter (which Santuzza curses)--but the violence of Cav and Pag are not my idea of a Christmas Day outing. Still ... here is Domingo's first-ever Turiddu/ Canio double, live for Munich masochists in 1978, only relatively well recorded (Bavarian Radio) and transferred by Orfeo.

Now, I don't want to spoil the party immediately but I never understand why apart, presumably, for financial reasons obvious performance errors in these so-called 'first' releases of historic material are not corrected. Both Santuzza and Alfio here have unhappy moments at traditionally sticky places early on in the show which do not make for pleasant repetition. Pagliacci could also have done with a bit of editing--not because of performance error but in order to calm down the excessive laughter (not to mention the wordless interpolations of di Bella's over-the-top Tonio) which, heard repeatedly 'live' on disc without the benefit of pictures, is both incomprehensible and annoying.

We are left with an exciting Cavalleria. This is surely Domingo's more convincing part of the two. Varnay's veteran Lucia is riveting and Rysanek, once past the Easter Hymn, contributes mightily to the central quarrel duet. Di Bella is excessive and inaccurate; Maestro Santi, perhaps distracted by a stage production which an uncommonly interesting note tells us that he didn't like, is pacy but not always together with the stage. …

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