HD-Vinyls 24/96 (RCA) Giuseppe Verdi – Un Ballo In Maschera (Price/Bergonzi)

Many Many Thanks to a great donator for sending me this gem!

# Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
# Performers: Leontyne Price, Carlo Bergonzi, Robert Merrill, Ezio Flagello, Ferruccio Mazzoli, Shirley Verrett, Fernando Iacopucci, Piero De Palma, Reri Grist, Mario Basiola Jr.
# Orchestra: RCA Italiana Opera Orchestra
# Conductor: Erich Leinsdorf
# Vinyls (1971)
# Number of Discs: 3
# Format: Flac
# Label: London (Decca)
# DR-Analysis: DR 13
# ASIN CD: B000003EQ0
# Size: 2.49 GB
# Scan: yes
# Server: FF

This is probably the best sung of all the versions of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera”. The whole performance is a grand reminder of the caliber of singers who regularly appeared at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1960’s. Leontyne Price’s magnificent soprano found its greatest outlet in the music of Verdi, and the long and flowing lines of this role suit her voice perfectly. Carlo Bergonzi sings Riccardo with all of the beauty and refinement that established his reputation. Robert Merrill is a very convincing Renato, his voice on this recording is actually firmer and more solidly based.

Leontyne Price, Carlo Bergonzi, Robert Merrill, Shirley Verrett…Looking at the cast list for this recording, the mouth waters. Who could ask for a dreamier “Dream Cast” for one of Verdi’s greatest operas than this? And for their part, the cast delivers what they promise. Price is glorious in the part of Amelia, creating a suitably disturbed heroine with a voice of gold. The top notes are wonderful. Bergonzi also does some very fine singing, with his exemplary Verdian phrasing shining through as usual, although he doesn’t manage to do much with his characterization other than be generically heroic. Robert Merrill dishes up a few surprises as Renato. Of course his voice is glorious and full, but what makes this an extraordinary performance is Merrill steps out of his routine baritone mode and creates a charater that lives and breathes. I have yet to hear a more three dimensional Renato that also satifies the vocal demands of the part. Reri Grist is perfect for the part of Oscar. Her character, her voice…what more can I say? And then there’s the Ulrica of Shirley Verrett, totally believable and satifying in every respect. One would not expect less from this excellent artist.

So why did this recording only merit four stars? It vied to be in the class of the Callas/deSabata TOSCA and the Ludwig/Klemperer FIDELIO and didn’t make it. So much of this recording is ravishingly beautiful with moments to treasure, but it is a flawed masterpiece. Leinsdorf’s conducting is chiefly to fault. He does wonders with the lyrical moments of the opera, but then there are moments that it seems he doesn’t really know what to do and so he speeds through to get to something that he’s sure of. He also encourages hammy melodrama in place of real feeling. One wonders what more Price would have done with Amelia had she been in the presence of someone like von Karajan or Solti.

Another snag in the fabric of this recording is the odd production it recieved. The voices are either in your lap or back in a cave somewhere, which wouldn’t really be a problem if they were there at a logical time. The sound itself is exemplary, clear and full.

If you’re looking for a good pre-digital, stereo recording of this opera, then you probably won’t find one better than this, although the Domingo/Muti effort comes close. However, this opera is still searching for its Holy Grail where recordings are concerned.

A   Act 1, Scene 1 20:46  
B   Act 1, Scene 2 28:46  
C   Act 2, Part 1 18:58  
D   Act 2, Concluded 12:40  
E   Act 3, Scene 1 24:16  
F   Act 3, Scene 2 22:27  

Analyzed folder: /Users/alfredo/Desktop/ HiResMusic/96kGV_Mask_PriBer/96k Verdi – Un Ballo In Maschera – Price-Bergonzi
DR        Peak        RMS        Filename
DR14        -0.77 dB     -20.04 dB     sideA.wav
DR13        -0.64 dB     -19.26 dB     sideB.wav
DR12        -0.86 dB     -18.33 dB     sideC.wav
DR13        -0.82 dB     -19.77 dB     sideD.wav
DR12        -0.79 dB     -18.57 dB     sideE.wav
DR13        -0.54 dB     -19.53 dB     sideF.wav
Number of files:    6
Official DR value:    DR13

Ripping Infos

  • RCM: Okki Nokki
  • TT: Clearaudio Champion Level II
  • System: Special Edition Denon DL 103
  • Phono stage: Pro-Ject Phono Box II
  • Pre Amp: Unison Research Unico Pre (Tube)
  • ADC/DAC: RME Fireface UC
  • 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 -> Wave 32 bit/96 kHz
  • Light de-Clicking with ClickRepair, significant clicks manually removing, no De-Noising

You hear some clicks and pops here and there? Who cares?
I better let some light anomalies instead of destroying the music. Enjoy the music, not the ticks & pops.

  • DR-Analisys before converting to Flac
  • Converting Wave 32bit/96kHz -> Flac 24bit/96kHz: Twisted Wave
  • Artwork: Sony Alpha 350, Epson Perfection V750 Pro, Photoshop CS 5.5

If you like what i do, please consider that a little donation would be very appreciate. 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


4 thoughts on “HD-Vinyls 24/96 (RCA) Giuseppe Verdi – Un Ballo In Maschera (Price/Bergonzi)

  1. Many Thanks Rach, even with shortcomings, I think
    it ranks with Price-Pavarotti-Solti…..
    Very impressive despite some “voice echo” here & there.

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