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I PAGLIACCI - LEONCAVALLO - CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA - Merrill Bjoerling - Opera LP
LP

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Highlights from I PAGLIACCI - LEONCAVALLO and CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA - MASCAGNI



RCA VICTOR RED SEAL RECORDS
(LM-1828)
1955
Record: VG VG+ light marks ( listen)
Cover: VG VG+ top edge split all the way across, ringwear
"NEW ORTHOPHONIC" HIGH FIDELITY MONAURAL
Canada Issue

I PAGLIACCI - LEONCAVALLO

ZINKA MILANOV, SOPRANO;
MARGARET ROGGERO, MEZZOSOPRANO;
JUSSI BJOERLING, TENOR;
ROBERT MERRILL, BARITONE


THE ROBERT SHAW CHORALE, ROBERT SHAW, CONDUCTOR

RCA VICTOR ORCHESTRA, RENATO CELLINI, CONDUCTOR

AND

CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA - MASCAGNI

VICTORIA DE LOS ANGELES, SOPRANO;
JUSSI BJOERLING AND PAUL FRANKE, TENORS;
ROBERT MERRILL AND LEONARD WARREN, BARITONES

THE ROBERT SHAW CHORALE, ROBERT SHAW, CONDUCTOR

RCA VICTOR ORCHESTRA, RENATO CELLINI, CONDUCTOR



SIDE 1

CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA


1. SICILIANA

2. VOI LO SAPETE

3. SANTUZZA - TURIDDU DUET

4. SANTUZZA- ALFIO DUET

5. INTERMEZZO

6. ADDIO ALLA MADRE




SIDE 2

I PAGLIACCI


ACT I

1. PROLOGUE: SI POU!

2. BALLATELLA

3. NEDDA-SILVIO DUET

4. VESTI LA GIUBBA

ACT II

5. COMMEDIA


This classic performance has been aptly described as "the most smoothly and richly sung Pagliacci on records," and has for decades been the preferred version among those who put a premium upon great voices.

Pagliacci (1892), the only lasting success of Leoncavallo, has long shared honors with Cavalleria Rusticana (1890), the only lasting success of Mascagni, as the two most popular short operas in the standard repertoire. "Cav and Pag," sometimes familiarly known as the "ham and eggs" of Italian opera, have also long been joined at the hip as the world's most popular operatic double-bill. Both are verismo operas (Italian realism or naturalism featuring earthy characters from ordinary walks of life, fierce passions, and resulting violence) set in the south of Italy, with simple plots turning on sexual jealousy which results in murder. (Many have the misapprehension that they are both one-act operas; Cav is, but Pag, though short, is actually in two acts.)
Caruso popularized the opera, making Canio virtually his trademark role, and since his time most of the major tenors of Italian opera have sung the role. Today, you can have your pick of complete Pagliacci recordings by Gigli, Bjorling, Tucker, Di Stefano, Del Monaco, Corelli, Bergonzi, Pavarotti, Domingo, Carreras, and others. The larder is well stocked.


What makes this version so distinguished, what makes it stand out in a field so full of competitors, can be expressed in two words: great voices. Talk about prodigally luxurious casting: four of the greatest voices of the day, and indeed of the twentieth century, are the principals here. The rich, resonant, plush baritones of Leonard Warren and Robert Merrill; the luminous, radiant soprano of Victoria De Los Angeles, arguably the most beautiful lyric soprano voice of her time; and above all--for this is primarily a tenor's opera--the uniquely beautiful and incomparably brilliant and thrilling tenor voice of Jussi Bjorling, considered by many good judges the pre-eminent tenor since Caruso in the standard Italian and French repertoire. Bjorling's Canio eschews the extra-musical emoting---the gulps, sobs, and blubbering--indulged in by some tenors in this role; instead, he manages to convey the requisite passion entirely in his singing. It wouldn't be much of an exaggeration to say that these four opulent voices had no true peers even in the abundantly endowed operatic world of the 1950s, and they certainly have no peers today: no one could now assemble such a cast for Pagliacci.

The studio orchestra and chorus are both excellent. Renato Cellini conducts a taut, dramatic, well-shaped performance that permits his singers to make the most of their resources. And what magnificent resources they are! All four principals are in splendid voice; all are caught here in their prime. (One oddity worth noting: it is Warren, as Tonio, rather than Bjorling, as Canio, who sings the opera's final line, "La commedia e finita!" This was the original form of the opera's ending.)

On Cavalleria Rusticana, Bjorling sings the best Turiddu on record.

This product was added to our catalog on Sunday 17 April, 2011.

 
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