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.
Composed for Venice in 1837, just a year-and-a-half after the fantastic success of Lucia di Lammermoor, Pia de' Tolomei "pleased altogether", in the composer's words. He revised it a couple of times thereafter and it was shown at various theaters as distant as Malta until 1855, after which it disappeared. It takes place in 13th-century Siena: Pia is married to Nello; his cousin Ghino loves her but she refuses his advances. Ghino angrily accuses Pia of adultery with an unknown man, who turns out to be Pia's brother, Rodrigo, and Nello imprisons her. Ghino eventually feels remorse and confesses his deception, but not soon enough to save Pia from being poisoned by Nello.
This tragicomedy was apparently the greatest success of Giovanni Paisiello’s career, some claim considering that he wrote around 90 operas and that his Barbiere di Siviglia both inspired Mozart to produce Le nozze di Figaro as a sequel and caused later audiences to criticise Rossini for daring to tackle the same subject. Although Paisiello (1740-1816) is interesting enough to deserve some attention today, his musical accomplishments are more reminiscent of Cimarosa than anyone else. He did, however, enjoy a colourful life, and served European rulers as diverse as Catherine the Great and Napoleon. When Nina was first performed at La Scala, the title role was taken by none other than Floria Tosca, the singer who was later to inspire Sardou and Puccini.
This is a wonderful performance, one of the finest in this Tutto Verdi series of the complete operas. Conductor Gianluigi Gelmetti is an unlikely looking gentleman at first glance but at his first wave of the baton one realizes he is a master. His upbeat tempi have a big sweep that gives the opera the brilliance Verdi intended. The tenor, Francesco Meli (Riccardo), is a young fresh voice, powerful and sensitive; the baritone, Vladimir Stoyanov is beginning to take over from the venerable Nucci in the series. His voice is powerful, well shaded, his acting puts a menace into his Renato and we commiserate with his agony of being a betrayed husband. Serena Gamberoni’s Oscar is a delight—a stunning beauty, her voice supple and flexible, she moves like a real opera star! An American from Arkansas, Kristin Lewis is a passionate Amelia with power, secure in her top notes. Elisabetta Fiorillo (Ulrica), an old-timer now with an alto range, makes a strong impression as the wise and not at all wicked soothsayer. (The WholeNote)
…this is…a very attractive production. The sets and costumes are in period and completely traditional and tasteful. The stage action is thoroughly sensible and in accord with the libretto, and the acting by all the principals quite decent. Among the four lead singers, the standout is Silvia Dalla Genetta as Gulnara. Let’s hope that the exposure she receives here launches her on a major international career, for this is a world-class voice—a dramatic coloratura with a rapid but perfectly even vibrato; rich, penetrating vocal color devoid of shrillness on top; excellent breath control, including some marvelous soft singing; spot-on intonation; and an ability to handle wide intervallic leaps with aplomb. As Medora, Irina Lungu[’s]…coloratura technique is sound, and overall she sings creditably…Bruno Ribeiro is…a major asset as Corrado…he is…a fine singer…with a secure top and real interpretive temperament. In the role of Seid, Luca Salsi brings an extremely potent bass voice to bear, and is quite the formidable villain. (Fanfare)
Nabucco was Verdi’s third work for the stage and proved his first great success when performed in 1842. It deals with the Hebrew’s attempts to break free from the yoke of their Babylonian oppressors and is nowadays numbered among Verdi’s most popular works, not least on account of its famous Chorus of Hebrew Slaves, which has one of the best-loved melodies in the whole history of opera.)
Stiffelio was based on the play Le pasteur, ou L'évangile et le foyer by Émile Souvestre and Eugène Bourgeois and was originally censored due to it involving as it does a Protestant minister of the church with an adulterous wife.
The golden timbre of Roberto Aronica graces the title role…His commanding tenor makes one sit up and listen, with some notable long-breathed phrasing and a smooth legato a joy to hear…[Yu Guanqun's] is a rich, true lyric soprano with a glint of steel and strong, even emission in the upper register…[Frontali] sings with great command of Verdian shape and line. (International Record Review)
I Lombardi alla prima crociata was Verdi’s fourth opera and received its first performance at La Scala, Milan, in February 1843. The grandiloquent subject matter is fleshed-out with broad-brushed musical and dramatic effects and lavish choral scenes created a correspondingly impressive impact. A great success in Milan, it spread to the rest of Europe within a matter of only a few years.