Many thanks to our friend from Michigan Lake for this gift.
This is the recording by which others should be judged. Solti captures the raucousness of Falstaff, using and emphasizing the horns like great comedic guffaws. Geraint Evans oozes unctiousness and Freni sweetly takes on the only aria in the whole opera.
# Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
# Performer: Alfredo Kraus, Geront Evans, Mirella Freni, Rosalind Elias, Giulietta Simionato, Robert Merrill, Piero De Palma
# Orchestra: Orchestra Of The RCA Italiana
# Conductor: Georg Solti
# Vinyl (1964)
# Number of Discs: 3
# Format: Flac
# DR-Analysis: DR 15
# Label: RCA
# ASIN: B0015T46NM
# Size: 2.32 GB
# Scan: yes
# Server: FF
When you digest this version of Falstaff everything else is so lady-like and almost effeminate. Falstaff is a drunk, he smells and he is dishonest. Strings cannot bring home this earthy opera the way Solti and the horns do. This opera, in my opinion Verdi’s masterpiece, is in continous motion the way Gianni Schicci is. It is not a stop, stand and sing opera like Don Carlos and others make that mistake–not Solti.
Solti began as a protege of Toscanini and kept his mentor’s tense, propulsive style intact for almost fifty years after Toscanini’s death. It comes as no surprise, then, that this riveting Falstaff, which shoots off fireworks in all directions, competes with the famous account on RCA from Toscanini, arguably his greatest opera recording. Solti is even more tightly cinched, however, and there are times when his insistence on dramatic tension needs to be more yielding. Surely the pace needs to slow down for the tener duets between the young lovers, Fenton and Nanneta (beatifully sung by Mirella Freni and Alfredo Kraus), but not here: Solti sets brisk tempos and adheres to them.
Therefore, this performance isn’t one in which you fall in love with any of the characters; they aren’t given much breathing room to expand in humanity. On the other hand, for sheer excitement and brilliance of execution, it would be hard to surpass this set. Every singer is first-rate, and that’s crucial in an opera so dependent on ensemble singing. Luckily, there’s not a weak link to be heard anywhere — few rivals can boast of the same. And for all his explosive tendencies, Solti doesn’t turn the opera into a gross or driven caricature of Verdi’s comic intentions.
Any performance rises and falls on Falstaff himself, and the Welsh baritone Geraint Evans, a beloved fixture at Covent Garden for many years, is superb. For pure singing, he outdoes Tito Gobbi for Karajan, and he doesn’t fall into the histrionic exaggerations of Fischer-Dieskau for Bernstein and Terfel for Abbado. Many aficionados demand an Italian with buffo manners in this role. Fro them, Evans may be too un-Italianate and serious. But he’s a great vocal actor, and frankly, an unmannered, more human Falstaff comes as a relief, especially one who really sings the part note for note. Is Evans funny? Not especially, but without visible stage business, humor isn’t one of the opera’s greatest strengths on record. What dominates instead is Verdi’s miraculous, mercurial orchestral writing, and here Solti brings out every detail with bright vividness.
To my ears, this Falstaff belongs just below the classic versions from Toscanini (RCA) and Karajan (EMI), pace those collectors who have delved into the archives of historical reissues, of which there are many fine examples.
Analyzed folder: /96kGV_Fa-Sol/96k Verdi – Falstaff – Solti
DR Peak RMS Filename
DR15 -1.52 dB -21.29 dB sideA.wav
DR15 -1.61 dB -22.38 dB sideB.wav
DR14 -0.77 dB -20.71 dB sideC.wav
DR16 -0.56 dB -22.09 dB sideD.wav
DR16 -1.18 dB -24.07 dB sideE.wav
DR14 -1.47 dB -21.54 dB sideF.wav
Number of files: 6
Official DR value: DR15
- Baritone Vocals – Geraint Evans, Robert Merrill
- Bass Vocals – Giovanni Foiani
- Chorus Master – Nino Antonellini
- Conductor – Georg Solti
- Liner Notes – Irving Kolodin
- Mezzo-soprano Vocals – Giulietta Simionato, Rosalind Elias
- Photography – Maria De Monte, Michael Evans
- Soprano Vocals – Ilva Ligabue, Mirella Freni
- Tenor Vocals – Alfredo Kraus, John Lanigan, Piero De Palma
- Orchestra –Orchestra of the RCA Italiana
- RCM: Okki Nokki (L’art du son, Clearaudio’s Diamond Cleaner)
- TT: Clearaudio Champion Level II
- Cartridge: Sumiko Black Bird
- 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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