Many thanks for this jewel to a generous friend from Lake Michigan area
This opera becomes a battle of the divas in its great second act, with Sutherland, as Mary Stuart, pitted against the jealous, paranoid, and vengeful Elizabeth I (Tourangeau). There is an intensely dramatic confrontation in which insults are violently exchanged between the powerful monarch and her imprisoned but still regal rival to the throne. Mary wins the battle of insults, but this is a dangerous victory over one who has the power of life and death. Elizabeth orders Mary’s execution and Act III becomes a spectacle of pathos and horror. Sutherland’s usual style is more attuned to pathos than to the swapping of insults, but she rises splendidly to the challenges of Act II and she has a splendid supporting cast.
Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
Performer: Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Huguette Tourangeau, James Morris
Orchestra: Orchestra Del Teatro Comunale Di Bologna
Conductor: Richard Bonynge
Number of Discs: 3
DR-Analysis: DR 14
Size: 1.85 GB
Maria Stuarda is one of Donizetti’s most dramatic operas, alongside with Lucrezia Borgia and Roberto Devereux. Once sung by gorgeous voices and effective singer actresses, it is the proof that Bel Canto is much more than beautiful melodies and difficult coloraturas. The roles of Maria and Elisabetta require not only remarkable voices, but above all great dramatic skills. Indeed, there’s a natural dramatic power in all the masterpieces of Bel Canto, and it can be exciting when a singer like Callas, Sills or Sutherland brings the drama and pathos out of that amazing music!
Joan Sutherland, being a real soprano d’agilità drammatica, has established herself as one of the best interpreters of Maria Stuarda. Her only rivals are Beverly Sills and Montserrat Caballé. However, both Sills and Caballé didn’t have the powerful voice of La Stupenda. Instead of what some people declare about Sutherland’s acting, she succeeds dramatically in all her most important roles. Being a sensitive and stylistically accurate actress, her acting conveys sentimentality and pathos rather than rage and tragic drama, but she can also be a fiery actress at the most intense moments. Here her diction is also very expressive, as she emphasizes every word to great dramatic effect. Just listen to her furious and sarcastic ”Vil bastarda!”, which is enough to make her ”Figlia impura di Bolena” the most terrific on disc!
Sutherland’s voice had become darker and more expressive in 1975. Although it has gained a little more vibrato, there’s little sign of the wobble it would acquire in few years. She shows off many qualities of her miraculous singing: the huge and exuberant sound, the ravishing high notes, the impeccable legato and even the much improved low register. Some highlights of her performance are the rock-solid high note she sings with Pavarotti in ”Se il mio cor tremò giammai”, the incredibly long vocal line she keeps for 22 seconds in “Deh! tu di un umile preghiera” and the heartbreaking final scene.
Luciano Pavarotti is at his peak, singing fantastic high notes with his beautiful bright voice. He also delivers and adequate characterization of Cecil. Actually, with that voice, even if he’d just stand and sing, this would still be a fascinating performance! In fact, the drama is centered on the two rival women, and Huguette Tourangeau does a great job as the Queen Elisabetta. She was kind of a second choice as a mezzo partner for Sutherland, being the first Marilyn Horne. Indeed, their voice blend extremely well, as we can hear in the Confrontation Scene. Her dark toned voice and wide range are ideal to sing Elisabetta, as it handles the difficult music written for the part with ease and conveys the vengeful personality of the role.
This is one of Donizetti’s most exciting operas, and it’s sung by an ideal cast. Three of the most remarkable Bel Canto voices ever were joined in this recording. Besides, the moving music of Maria Stuarda is conducted with mastery and dramaticism.
Analyzed folder: /96k Donizetti – Mary Stuart – Sutherland
DR Peak RMS Filename
DR15 -0.56 dB -20.58 dB sideA.aif
DR15 -0.68 dB -20.43 dB sideB.aif
DR13 -0.86 dB -18.31 dB sideC.aif
DR14 -1.25 dB -19.71 dB sideD.aif
DR13 -1.00 dB -19.69 dB sideE.aif
DR14 -0.28 dB -20.47 dB sideF.aif
Number of files: 6
Official DR value: DR14
- Chorus – Chorus Of The Teatro Comunale Di Bologna
- Composed By – Gaetano Donizetti
- Conductor – Richard Bonynge
- Orchestra – Orchestra Del Teatro Comunale Di Bologna
- Performer [Anna Kennedy] – Margreta Elkins
- Performer [Elisabetta] – Huguette Tourangeau
- Performer [Leicester] – Luciano Pavarotti
- Performer [Lord Cecil] – James Morris
- Performer [Maria Stuarda] – Joan Sutherland
- Performer [Talbot] – Roger Soyer
- RCM: Okki Nokki (L’art du son, Clearaudio’s Diamond Cleaner)
- TT: Vintage (1982) Yamaha PX-3
- Cartridge: Sumiko Black Bird
Cartridge: ZYX 50R Bloom
- Phono amp: Audio Research SP15 own tube phono section.
- ADC/DAC: RME Fireface UC
- Pre Amp: Audio Research SP15
- Finals: Opera Consonance 9.9 Mono (Tube)
- Speakers: Dali Helikon 400
- Connections: MIT Terminator, Audioquest Emerald, Audioquest Quartz
- Software: iZotope RX 4 Advanced, Adobe Audition CS 5.5, Twisted Wave 1.9
- Super light de-clicking with iZotope, significant clicks manually removing, no de-noising
- DR-Analisys before converting to Flac
- Converting Wave -> Flac: Twisted Wave 1.9
- Artwork: Sony Alpha 350, Epson Perfection V750 Pro, Photoshop CS 5.5
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