Another big “thank you” for this gem flights to our Chicago friend 😀
Fortunately we have two wonderful Forza’s with Leontyne Price–a later one (and one more readily available) with Placido Domingo, Sherill Milnes, Fiorenza Cosotta and Gabriel Bacquier, conducted by James Levine, and this earlier one from 1965. While the later one is an excellent recording, the earlier one takes the cake.
Conducted by Thomas Schippers, whose career was tragically cut short by cancer, it bursts forth with an energy and enthusiasm that just can’t be surpassed. The cast is an American Who’s Who of opera in the mid-’60s. Leontyne Price was not yet 40 when she recorded Leonora on this recording, and she brings to the production the skill and dramatic ability of a mature artist but with a voice still with the bloom of youth and freshness. The combination is incredible.
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Performer: Leontyne Price, Richard Tucker, Robert Merrill, Shirley Verrett, Giorgio Tozzi, Ezio Flagello
Orchestra: RCA Italiana Opera Orchestra
Conductor: Thomas Schippers
Number of Discs: 4
DR-Analysis: DR 13
Size: 3.54 GB
The tenor role of Don Alvaro is sung by Richard Tucker, who at 52, had been the premier post-war American tenor for 20 years. Tucker brings his usual passion to his rile, and with only a little of the stagey vocal mannerisms that later badly affected his singing, he still has a secure technique, flawless diction and a distinctive and ringing timbre.
The baritone role of Don Carlo is sung by the great American Verdi baritone, Robert Merrill, at 48 in the prime of his career. At the time of this recording, Merrill, with a rich robust dark baritone, was the premier American baritone. The mezzo role of Preziosilla is sing by Shirley Verrett, 31 at the time of this recording, who demonstrates her stylish and perfectly controlled mezzo.
The bass role of Padre Guardino is sung by Giorgio Tozzi, who despite his Italian-sounding name was born in Chicago. Forty-two when this opera was recorded, the Grammy-award winning singer was in the middle of a twenty-year career as one of the Met’s top American basses, before going on to a distinguished career as a professor at the University of Indiana. Even the comedic bass role of Fra Melitone is sung by 34-year old Ezio Flagello, who also despite his Italian name was born in New York City, and was a regular Metropolitan bass in buffo roles.
While the later recording features a terrific cast, its flawed because Leontyne Price is past her prime and singing with faulty diction and rougher voice. She maintains a “princess” like grace for this Leonora, similar to her Leonoras at the Met upon her debut in the early 60’s. She has the right kind of lyrico spinto voice for the role. Her “Pace Mio Dio” is unsurpassed. Though accused of singing beautifully without dramatic integrity, I find that Price lived her roles. I like her Leonora the same way I like Renata Tebaldi’s Leonore, to whom many credit as the best Leonora of Forza. Price is well supported by tenor Richard Tucker, who was also paired with her for the Madame Butterfly under Leinsdorf.
This is an excellent old school recording, and we hear what we might have heard at a Met production in the 60’s. Beloved American tenor Robert Merrill sings with excellent prowess and he pulls out all the stops in this one. Shirley Verrett, another great African American opera diva, sings with charm, agility and power as Preziosilla, the exciting Gypsy leader. Schippers conducts with a fine sense of pace and style, the music never overwhelming the singers except for the climaxes which often happen anyways.
This is a terrific, absolutely almost unbeatable performance, rivaled only by the Tebaldi/Del Monaco recording.
Analyzed Folder: /96k Verdi – La Forza Del Destino – Price-Tucker_dr.txt
DR Peak RMS Filename
DR13 -0.49 dB -19.54 dB side1.flac
DR13 -0.23 dB -18.70 dB side2.flac
DR13 -0.21 dB -18.87 dB side3.flac
DR14 -0.50 dB -21.48 dB side4.flac
DR15 -0.48 dB -20.77 dB side5.flac
DR13 -0.28 dB -19.43 dB side6.flac
DR13 -0.49 dB -18.87 dB side7.flac
DR14 -0.25 dB -19.59 dB side8.flac
Number of Files: 8
Official DR Value: DR13
- Baritone Vocals – Mario Rinaudo, Ron Bottcher
- Baritone Vocals [Don Carlo Di Vargas] – Robert Merrill
- Bass Vocals – Claudio Piccini, Franco Ruta, Giovanni Foiani
- Bass Vocals [Fra Melitone] – Ezio Flagello
- Bass Vocals [Padre Guardiano] – Giorgio Tozzi
- Chorus Master – Nino Antonellini
- Composed By – Giuseppe Verdi
- Conductor – Thomas Schippers
- Conductor [Assistant Conductor] – Fernando Cavaniglia, Luigi Ricci
- Mezzo-soprano Vocals – Corinne Vozza
- Mezzo-soprano Vocals [Preziosilla] – Shirley Verrett
- Orchestra – RCA Italiana Opera Orchestra And Chorus
- Producer – Richard Mohr
- Recorded By – Anthony Salvatore
- Soprano Vocals – Luciana Marrapese
- Soprano Vocals [Donna Leonora Di Vargas] – Leontyne Price
- Stage Manager [Stereophonic Stage Manager] – Peter Tevis
- Tenor Vocals – Camillo Sforza, Piero De Palma, Romano Truffelli, Vito Jannizzotto
- Tenor Vocals [Don Alvaro] – Richard Tucker
- 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 5 Advanced, Adobe Audition CS 5.5, Twisted Wave 1.18
- Very careful de-clicking with iZotope, significant clicks manually removed, never de-noising
- Wave 32/192(32/384) —> Flac 24/96(24/192): Twisted Wave 1.18
- Artwork: Sony Alpha 350, Epson Perfection V750 Pro, Photoshop CS 5.5
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