HD-Vinyls 24/96 (Decca) Amilcare Ponchielli – La Gioconda (Tebaldi/Bergonzi/Merrill)

Many thanks to our friend BOB for this beauty
I never quite realised how much I appreciate this recording until I saw Tebaldi singing “Suicidio!”. Her massive voice, which she was able to tune down when required and sing the warmest phrase, had matured by the mid 60s when she tackled the role on stage and made it ideal for this dangerous role. Combined with her commanding stage presence it’s no wonder she received such huge acclaim as Gioconda.

# Composer: Amilcare Ponchielli
# Performer: Carlo Bergonzi, Marilyn Horne, Nicola Ghiuselev, Oralia Dominguez, Renata Tebaldi, Robert Merrill
# Orchestra: Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Roma
# Conductor: Lamberto Gardelli
# Vinyl 1967
# Number of Discs: 3
# Format: Flac
# Label: London (Decca)
# DR-Analysis: DR 14
not found
# Size: 3.14 GB
# Scan: yes
# Server: Fi

Let’s hear no more nonsense about “La Gioconda” being second-rate entertainment. Apart from the derogatory comments from snobbish critics, the obvious reasons for its neglect are the demands it makes upon its soloists, the quality of voices required, and the fact that you require the resources to fund the casting of six world-class singers and to stage a carnival scene, a masked ball, dancers, sailors, ships ablaze and sinking and the whole kit and caboodle. True, the plot is hyper-melodramatic and merely a device to frame a stream of glorious meolody and dramatic confrontations – but that’s not unusual in the world of opera and the music speaks emotional truth.

I cannot get enough of this music; This one goes to the top of my list of recommendations by virtue of both the sound quality – warm, spacious, with a hint of reverb around it to provide theatricality – and the superlative quality of the performances. This might have been relatively late in Tebaldi’s career but you can hear here how closely she studied and modelled herself on Callas without sacrificing her individuality. There is no screaming; the top is simply laser-like and she takes risks with her lower register: her baleful cry of “Fuggi” would intimidate the most determined and courageous Laura. This is cearly one of her most involved and powerful recorded performances, completely blowing away any accusation that she was a bland singer. Similarly, I have never heard Bergonzi sound closer to a true dramatic tenor; sometimes the voice was a tad light for roles such as Enzo – but certainly not here; he is in clarion voice. Merril is simply the best Barnaba of them all: leering, sardonic and in superb, brazen form. In the lower female voices, Dominguez and Horne contrast well, the former bringing pathos and gravitas to La Cieca and Horne combining a rip-roaring lower register in the great vocal cat-fight with Tebaldi in Act 2 with a certain vulnerability which really suggests a wronged and frightened woman. I was worried that Ghiuselev would prove to be a weak Alvise but he is in tremendous voice, his black bass exclaiming vengefully. The orchestra and chorus are vigorous and assured; Gardelli knows exactly how this block-buster should go.

You will notice that I do not mention Callas’ earlier Cetra recording, although many rate it highly. I find that the poor sound quality and rather second-rate cast – Callas apart, of course – disincline me to listen to it when there are, as I said earlier, so many good alternatives; nor do I find Callas’ supposed vocal frailities in her later version to be either bothersome or indeed much in evidence. Caballe is extraordinarily good in this role but a shade overparted compared with Tebaldi, whose vast voice and temperament – when inspired – suited her ideally to it, which is why she continued to perform it late into her career. If you can lay your hands on it, this Gardelli set is the one to have; it’s a complete operatic experience.

Analyzed folder: /96k Ponchielli – La Gioconda – Tebaldi, Bergonzi
DR        Peak        RMS        Filename
DR13        -1.19 dB     -19.77 dB     sideA.wav
DR13        -0.88 dB     -20.03 dB     sideB.wav
DR14        -1.03 dB     -20.87 dB     sideC.wav
DR13        -1.08 dB     -19.36 dB     sideD.wav
DR14        -0.86 dB     -20.30 dB     sideE.wav
DR14        -1.39 dB     -20.70 dB     sideF.wav
Number of files:    6
Official DR value:    DR14


  • Composer – Amilcare Ponchielli
  • Choir – Chorus Of The Accademia Di Santa Cecilia, Rome
  • Chorus Master – Giorgio Kirschner
  • Conductor – Lamberto Gardelli
  • Liner Notes – Ray Crick
  • Orchestra – Orchestra Of The Accademia Di Santa Cecilia, Rome
  • Vocals – Carlo Bergonzi, Marilyn Horne, Nicola Ghiuselev, Oralia Dominguez, Renata Tebaldi, Robert Merrill


Ripping Infos

  • RCM: Okki Nokki (L’art du son, Clearaudio’s Diamond Cleaner)
  • TT: Vintage (1982) Yamaha PX-3
  • Cartridge: Ortofon Virtus
  • Phono amp: Pro-Ject Phono Box RS
  • ADC/DAC: RME Fireface UC
  • Pre Amp: Unison Research Unico Pre (Tube)
  • Finals: Opera Consonance 9.9 Mono (Tube)
  • Speakers: Dali Helikon 400
  • Connections: MIT Terminator, Audioquest Emerald, Audioquest Quartz
  • Software: iZotope RX Advanced v2.02, Adobe Audition CS 5.5, Twisted Wave 1.9
  • Light de-clicking with iZotope, significant clicks manually removing, no de-noising

If You hear some clicks and pops here and there, Who cares?
Id rather have a few light anomalies instead of destroying the music. Enjoy the music, not the ticks & pops.

  • 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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I reinvest all donations in maintenance of my rig, for purchasing cleaning solutions and, most important of all, purchasing of new vinyls.
Click on the “Donate”-button. Thank you very much !

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PW: LaWally

11 thoughts on “HD-Vinyls 24/96 (Decca) Amilcare Ponchielli – La Gioconda (Tebaldi/Bergonzi/Merrill)

  1. You do not know how much I wanted to hear this one in your Hi Def, Rach, since I first learned of you. FINALMENTE!!!!

    Thank you, my benefactor; you give more than I gave you.
    With really deep appreciation,

    • And, oh, Rach, I just got a brand new computer and the sound card produces fantastically. I’m in my own private opera house yelling “Bravo! Bravooo! Bravaooooo! for Rachmaninov.

  2. Thanks to all who were involved in bringing this to fruition. The sound is particularly impressive.

    Like many people I always thought of Signor Ponchielli as a one hit wonder only known for one orchestral/ballet piece from this opera. He clearly was a craftsman when it came to composing opera.

    • Died toooooo early…this is the reason, why people tend to consider him a one-night-stand-up… What a pity, how many great work could he have given us 🙁

  3. Thank you so much for this! I have a live Gioconda with Tebaldi and Bergonzi from the MET in 1968 and she is superb! Can’t wait to listen to her in studio too.

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