I found out today that according to the Operadis Opera Discography, the 1966 DC Hartfort (my spelling mistake originally) performance should actually be the Philadelphia Lyric Opera, which explains many things ! If you would like me to burn you a CDR of the performance (or anyone else reading this for that matter), drop me a line to: email@example.com and I'd be only too happy to - that way you won't feel too bad about dropping them into the bin if you aren't very keen on the performance !
I do know what you mean about how conclusions of these surveys can become a bit too personal - and rarely pleases everyone ! When I did Rigoletto, I bravely started with Riccardo Stracciari in 1929 and then went through nearly all of the studio recordings, plus some live ones, all the way to Muti and Alagna in 1994, but when I announced my favourite was the 1960 traversal with Kraus/Bastianini/Scotto from the Maggio Musicale, the old grey-beards tut-tutted and shook their heads - even when allowing for the newly cleaned up version on Andromeda, where the former swimming-pool acoustic has been replaced by something far more acceptable ! But I don't care - Scotto has never sounded better, with all her usual insights, Kraus never more elegant (even if I miss Pavarotti's sheer heft and elan) and, best of all, Bastianini rolls out phrase after phrase with that gloriously black-treacley voice of his, perhaps without the nuances of a Gobbi, but full of emotion nonetheless. Next time I visit Siena, I will seek out his grave at the cathedral in grateful thanks !
As for Otello - the surprise was the general all-round excellence. No duds, like Harnoncourt's Aida, or Gardiner's Falstaff, etc.. Bottom of the pile were three - the undeniably beautiful to the eye film by Zeffirelli, but with the music butchered to death; Karajan's film, too often studio-bound,in spite of opening and closing brilliantly, and Barbirolli's studio account, with the overheated McCracken and pantomime-villain DfD. But I wouldn't say any of those three were totally without merit. At the other end, another surprise was the number of live performances coming out on top - Panizza and Martinelli at The Met in 1941; Karajan and Vickers at Salzburg in 1971; Kleiber and Domingo at La Scala in 1976; Lombard and Giacomini at Bordeaux in 1991, plus Abbado and Cura at Turin in 1996. They were joined by only two studio versions Levine/RCA and Karajan/EMI. Perhaps had I known of the Erede/del Monaco from Tokyo in 1959 (appreciate the suggestion), that may have joined the line-up too, but at least there's one we agree on at the top !
Tristan ..... tough, very tough !
I heard La Gioconda for the first time as a young lad, when the Bartoletti recording was released by Decca - I didn't enjoy it and had dismissed it ever since, until a good friend persuaded me to try it again, but on this occasion with one of the Callas's and this time, I was hooked ! But Callas 1 or Callas 2 - that is the question, so over to you Ralph !
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