Lorin Maazel’s Il Trittico

Excellent performances of Puccini’s tryptich, though, of the three, only Suor Angelica would be my absolute top choice.

A word first about the presentation of this budget release. These days I suppose we have become used to not getting texts and translations, but documentation n this reissue is really of the minimum, and tracking of the CDs is a ludicrous; just one track for Il Tabarro, and two each for Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi.

Nothing really wrong with Maazel’s conducting. I sometimes find him a fussy conductor, who draws attenttion to himself rather than the music, but I enjoyed these performances. His conducting is spacious and warm throughout, though I’d have to admit he misses some of the high spirits of Gianni Schicchi.

r-13346789-1552503975-9282.jpeg

Despite the excellent performances of Scotto and Domingo in Il Tabarro, I still prefer the old mono recording conducted by Vincenzo Bellezza, which is dominated by Gobbi’s darkly menacing, but troubled Michele. It is one of his greatest achievements on disc, and, good though Wixell is, he doesn’t begin to match Gobbi in emotional range. Scotto and Domingo are far preferable to their counterparts on the older recording, but Gobbi is irreplaceable.

r-7947218-1457632772-2563.jpeg

In Gianni Schicci, Gobbi is up against himself in an earlier recording, conducted by Gabriele Santini with a degree more urgency than we get here. Gobbi is as sharply characterful as ever, but the other soloists on that earlier recording are a tad more individual than those on this one, and it just generates a bit more fun and high spirits. Domingo, expertly lightening his voice, manages Rinuccio surprisingly well, but it’s still a bit like getting a sledgehammer to crack a nut, and Ileana Cotrubas is a charming Lauretta, if not quite eclipsing memories of Victoria De Los Angeles on the earlier recording.

r-5103789-1526059147-1145.gif

When it comes to Suor Angelica, I would have to admit that Scotto’s top notes can be afflicted with hardness and unsteadiness, but that she presents the most intense, most psycholgically penetrating traversal of the role I’ve heard. Between them Scotto and Maazel turn what is often a piece of quasi religioso sentimentality into a mini psychodrama about the effects of repression, almost echoing some of the themes in Powell and Pressburger’s darly intense movie Black Narcissus. Much as I like recordings featuring De Los Angeles and Ricciarelli, this one is much more gripping as drama. It’s defnitely the prize of the set.

Cotrubas sings Famous Opera Arias

51wbqsfxw6l

 

Recorded in 1976, when she was already 35, this was Ileana Cotrubas’s first and only recital disc. The playing time of the original disc being somewhat short, Sony have here added excerpts from the excellent complete recording of L’Elisir d’Amore also under Sir John Pritchard, Depuis le jour, from the complete Prêtre recording of Louise and O mio babino caro from Maazel’s Gianni Schicchi.

As Cotrubas herself says in the notes, Leonora’s Pace, pace was somewhat unexpected, a role that Cotrubas was never likely to sing on stage, and it really does need a fuller tone. I’m not sure if she ever sang Liu or Magda, but she could well have done and the other arias are all from her active repertoire.

It opens with a charming performance of Norina’s Quel gaurdo il cavaliere from Don Pasquale, a role she sang at Covent Garden at around the same time. She was a highly successful Susanna at Glyndebourne in 1973 (alongside Te Kanawa’s beautiful Countess and Freredica Von Stade’s radiantly ebullient Cherubino, performances which catapulted all three to stardom) and she is quite delightful in her Deh vieni.

The other side of her personality is captured in a deeply felt Ach ich fühl’s, and the natural morbidezza (an Italian word without any direct translation) which suited her to roles like Mimi and Violetta, is here displayed in her singing of the Puccini arias (Si, mi chiamano Mimi, Liu’s Tu, che di gel sei cinto, and Ch’il bel sogno di Doretta from La Rondine.) Though there is a hint of strain in the upper reaches of Gilda’s Caro nome, the aria also suits her well, and it here emerges as a dreamy reverie rather than the coloratura showpiece it often is.

The L’Elisir d’Amore excerpts are lovely in every way, as is Lauretta’s O mio babino caro, and Depuis le jour well captures Louise’s quiet intensity and mounting rapture.

A lovely memento of a well-loved artist.