Title - 'Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia' [2CDs+BR]
Artist - Claudio Abbado
Released on May 25, 2018 via Deutsche Grammophon, and commemorating the 150th anniversary of Rossini’s death, Abbado's 1971 reading of Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and Claudio Abbado is now available in a deluxe hardback 2-CD + DVD + Blu-ray audio set.
And, for those not in the know, Claudio Abbado was an Italian conductor of the highest, most impeccable order.
One of the most celebrated and respected conductors of the 20th century, particularly in the music of Gustav Mahler, he served as music director of the La Scala opera house in Milan, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, and principal guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
He was also the music director of the Vienna State Opera, founder and director of Lucerne Festival Orchestra, music director of European Union Youth Orchestra, and principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra.
This stellar 'Rossini: Il barbieredi Siviglia' cast includes Teresa Berganza's tangy Rosina, Luigi Alva's stylish, nimble Lindoro and Hermann Prey.
1. Rossini: Il barbieredi Siviglia
1. Rossini: Il barbieredi Siviglia
1. Blu-ray Audio Disc
Like many of my generation, I have been indelibly imprinted with this performance as the first I encountered and still the best I know, despite the fact that it employs illegitimate orchestration and implements several cuts such that it now fits onto two CDs.
Those cuts are not that damaging and were standard in that era; the only serious omission is Alva's last big aria, "Cessa di piu resistere"; otherwise it is only recitativo scenes which are missing and we still get Berganza's perky aria, so often cut.
Delving inside and there is the extraordinary surprise of Teresa Berganza's extraordinary Rosina. Known for the depth and almost unbearable suffering of the tragic bel canto repertory, she could never have been the most obvious casting for Rossini's quicksilver, fizzy, playful Rosina.
Well, think (or rather, listen) again. I defy anyone to produce such a delicious, effortless, flirtatious irrepressibly joyous Una Voce Poco Fa.
And then we have Hermann Prey, whose Figaro is sex on vocal legs, so to speak - dangerous, seductive, heavily male (** swoons **) Such vocal virility must surely result in a Rosina who will declare 'Screw the story, I'm off with the barber!'
But that is before the wooing, idealistic, romantic Lindoro of Luigi Alva bursts into song, and Rosina, as she must, melts and our lusty Figaro will do all he can to help the couple achieve love's young.
Indeed, when it comes to musical accuracy, this recording is impeccable. Prey provides a nice lyric coloratura approach to Figaro which is a nice change to the Milnes/Sills/Wunderlich recording that I also have.
In short, this is a fine recording, especially with regard the always-impressive London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), if you admire the voices of the three principles: Berganza, Alva, and Prey, which I do. You will find them at their best and most musical.
Also, as one would always expect, the late Italian conductor Claudio Abbado is as on point as he ever was here on this recording.
The 2CD, DVD and Blu-ray Audio disc feature the celebrated studio recording and are presented alongside the production filmed at La Scala in the same year and with the same cast. The booklet includes essays by Alan Blyth and Bernd Feuchtner.
Official 'Rossini: Il barbieredi Siviglia' [2CDs+DVD+BR] Purchase Link