Montserrat Caballé as Leonora is precisely what one would hope for. The voice is in near-pristine shape–the occasional attack on a loud high note early on can be vicious, but she sings with unusual commitment (not that the role has many nuances), glorious tone, and her entire arsenal of tricks: long-breathed phrases, diminuendos, high, floated pianissimo, grand chest voice. She even sings most of the words, rarely relying on “ah” sounds for high notes. The sound is huge and major-league and her comportment–acting is the wrong word–is regal. She sings the “Vergine degli angeli” with her back to the audience and the sound is as ethereal as you ever wanted it to be.
Abbado's Verdi recordings are some of the finest available and this Requiem recording is no expection. Abbado takes a less ferocious approach than say Muti, or Barenboim, balancing the dramatic moments effectively against the more introspective aspects of the score. Ricciarelli is in fine form here, singing with a fine sense of line and intense emotional declamation. Her intonation is perfect. Verrett blends seamlessly with Ricciarelli, making the most of their duet and capturing the intense sadness of much of the writing quite well. Domingo, in his first recording of the part, provides a steady stream of golden tone, effortlessly produced. His emotional temperature runs about right here - not overly dramatic - after all, this is not Aida - but strong feelings kept on a tight rein. Ghiaurov is phenomenal. His gigantic bass somehow anchoring the entire quartet and chorus into an imposing yet gorgeous Verdian soundscape. There are many excellent Verdi Requiem recordings - this is surely one of the very best.
For me, this recording represents the absolute epitome of bel canto singing, with Pavarotti spinning endless golden tone as Fernand and Fiorenza Cossotto showcasing that indomitable chest-voice as Leonora.–Katherine Cooper
A rare recording of Pergolesi's second opera, a comic and colourful tale of tangled love in which three girls resist their arranged marriages in pursuit of the same young man. Rediscovered by conductor Riccardo Muti, this forgotten jewel sparkles in its 1989 period production.
Director Werner Herzog and conductor Riccardo Muti combine with the finest of casts to lavish Rossini’s rarely-performed Neapolitan masterpiece, set in feudal sixteenth century Scotland, with the genius it deserves. June Anderson is an outstanding Elena (the Lady of the Lake) in the 1992 production of the melodrama based on Sir Walter Scott’s poem.
Renata Scotto shows an amazing flexibility and control. Her Caro nome is one to be heard many times. She reaches a high D and decrescendo's to an incredible ppp. I felt the aria drug a little in tempo, but the gorgeous sound more than made up for it. As Rigoletto, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau has the vocal power demanded by the score. Too often he sounded as if he was delivering a recital of Leider. A smooth velvet sound was his mark throughout. In his duets with Gilda, this payed off handsomely. Even in his dealings with the courtiers after Gilda's abduction he showed us a rarely seen Dietrich blustery side.