In June 1952, Maria Callas gave a legendary series of performances at the Palacio de las Bellas Artes, Mexico City. That series included not only this "Rigoletto", but three performances of "Lucia di Lamermoor" at the first of which she reprised the entire Mad scene. Callas went on to record "Rigoletto" in 1995 at La Scala in a studio recording with Tito Gobbi in the title role. Inevitably this recording can never replace that one and Pietro Campolonghi is no match for Tito Gobbi, but it is a fascinating and rewarding document.
It is the most human and vulnerable Rigoletto on record. The most formidable in his wrath and the most tragic when he realises the truth. He is terrified when he walks home after Monterone’s curse. He is fatherly caring when he meets Gilda. He is in despair when he meets the courtiers in act II. [Gobbi] whispers, whines, roars, caresses - his supply of vocal colours seems inexhaustible. This is a reading in a million - but it isn’t spotless vocally. Under pressure the tone tends to become pinched. But just as with Callas’s deficiencies this also becomes part of the reading, part of the personality… The final verdict: If you haven’t got the Serafin set: grab the opportunity at once. You will never regret it!
La Traviata, Giuseppe Verdi very personal opera, was premiered in 1853 at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice. The first night was a fiasco, but after a few revisions the opera set out to conquer the world. La Traviata offers no scope for grandiose crowd scenes or historical pomp. In keeping with the intimate nature of the action, Verdi’s music reflects the inner feelings of the protagonists. The heroine, whose emotional state is determined by external circumstances, is in the centre of the story of emotional upheavals. Jürgen Flimm haunting staging stays close to Verdi’s intent. He focuses on the protagonists, showing their shakiness, emotions, despair, love, sacrifice and tragedy rather than concentrating on the abysses of the Parisian demi-monde. Eva Mei and Piotr Beczala are a perfectly matched couple. Her soft and flexible soprano and his lyrical tenor, marked by excellent diction, work very well together, joined by the “golden” voice of outstanding Thomas Hampson.
C’è chi vende uova dopo la guerra e chi usa la stoffa dei paracadute per cucire gonne. Chi fugge dall’Italia per fare fortuna all’estero e chi se ne va per scampare a un padrino violento. Ci sono donne che si buttano con l’elastico dai ponti e ragazzi che cadono da una finestra per non rialzarsi più. Partigiani e sarte, minatori e cameriere, maestri di scuola. Madri, padri, figli, figlie. …
Diana Damrau’s primacy as an interpreter of Violetta Valéry in La traviata can be inferred from the names of theatres where she has performed Verdi’s most popular opera: the Metropolitan, New York; La Scala, Milan; London’s Royal Opera House; the Bavarian State Opera in Munich and the Zurich Opera. Paris’s Opéra Bastille joined that list of leading houses in June 2014, when the German soprano appeared in a new production by the film director Benoît Jacquot.
Ogni crisi personale, per quanto profonda, turbolenta e traumatizzante possa essere, reca con sé un elemento positivo: indica la via a un possibile cambiamento interiore, alla scoperta di nuove potenzialità e nuovi valori.