These video recordings all from the Schwetzingen opera festival were recorded in the late 80s and early 90s and originally released on laser disk on the Teldec label.
"La Scala di Seta" (Die seidene Leiter) ist eine von Rossinis weniger bekannteren Opern. Sie wird sehr selten von Ensemblen gespielt und wird dann auch noch beliebig verändert. Hier kann man die Liebesangelegenheiten der schönen Giulia und ihren Liebhabern in voller und unveränderter Form erleben. Luciana Serra hat einen wunderschönen Koloratursopran den sie als weibliche Hauptrolle perfekt einsetzt. Cecilia Bartoli als trottelige Cousine Lucilla ist hier noch am Anfang ihrer Karriere. Was auch an ihrer Stimme zu hören ist. Im großen Ganzen ist dies eine klasse Aufnahme. Leider kann ich ihr den 5. Stern nicht verleihen, weil es doch einen großen Punkt zu bemängeln gibt. Es handelt sich nämlich um eine Live-Aufnahme, die nicht gerade in bester Qualität gemacht wurde. Manchmal stören die Bühnengeräusche nämlich ziemlich heftig und die Stimmen wirken manchmal sehr fern…
Rossini's sparkling La scala di seta of 1812 weaves a burlesque tale of gentlemen climbing in and out of a lady's bedchamber on a silken ladder. Damiano Michieletto's modern-day production from the Rossini Festival in Pesaro sets the action in the two room apartment of the heroine Giulia, sung with 'wonderful suppleness' (Opernwelt) by Olga Peretyatko. The production also features a spectacular grand aria for Blansac (Carlo Lepore) extraneous to the work. Leading a young and spirited cast of Rossini specialists is maestro Claudio Scimone, a key figure in the international Rossini Renaissance.
The Sicilian-born tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano emerged in Switzerland after fleeing there when the Nazis took over Italy. There he made his first recordings after appearing on local radio in opera broadcasts. He made his operatic debut as Des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon at Regio Emilia on 20 April 1946 after which his rise was rapid. He débuted at La Scala in the same role in March 1947 and as the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera the following year with Leonard Warren in the title role. These were Di Stefano’s golden years, singing roles such as Fenton in Verdi’s Falstaff, Almaviva in Il Barbiere de Siviglia, Nemorino in L’Elisir d’amore and Alfredo in La Traviata. His early 78rpm recordings from this period reveal a voice of great lyric beauty (CD 1 trs1-5) and when the repertoire was right and when he resisted putting pressure on his open-throated forward tone. His outgoing and exuberant, if insouciant, personality did not take restriction to heart. If he could sing a note or a phrase full out he did so and even on these early tracks in the revealing sound of CD one can detect a touch of dryness, even rawness, at the top of the voice although without detracting from the attraction of his pianissimo and mezza voce singing.Robert J Farr, MusicWeb International
A Verdi Requiem with a dream line-up of soloists and the forces of La Scala, Milan, directed by one of the greatest maestros of our time. Preceding acclaimed performances at the Lucerne and Salzburg Festivals, Barenboim and his magnificent partners recorded this masterpiece around a live performance at La Scala, Milan, in 2012. This marks the first audio recording by Barenboim in his role as La Scala’s Music Director.
With two official EMI versions and five complete live recordings, Norma is at the top of the Callas hit parade, but choosing a single version is a nightmare as each has its virtues, based on the state of the soprano's voice or the surrounding cast. My first choice lies with the first 1954 studio recording where the balance between vocal health and emotive quality is as good as one can get for this artist.
This was Maria Callas' first studio-recorded Norma, and it remains a formidable performance. If it doesn't quite have the emotional shadings of her 1960 EMI re-make, it is certainly vocally more secure and in its way just as authoritative. The grandeur of the voice itself is always in evidence; her seeming spontaneity to dramatic situations makes the drama real. Mario Filippeschi's Pollione is impressive–he was a finer tenor than he's given credit for–and Ebe Stignani's Adalgisa is warm and blends superbly with Callas in the duets. Nicola Rossi-Lemeni's Oroveso is a mass of wobbles. Tullio Serafin leads masterfully but observes all the cuts that were standard for the '50s. Most people prefer the 1960 performance, with its clearer delineation between Norma-the-warrior and Norma-the-woman (and for Corelli and Ludwig in the two supporting roles, not to mention the stereo sound), but by 1960 Callas' vocal problems were pretty overt, so you'll have to take the good with the bad. My preference is for the 1955 recording (on Opera d'Oro) with del Monaco under Serafin; its minute-by-minute potency and glorious singing are unmatchable.