Franco Corelli sings Giuseppe Verdi (WAV)
Franco Corelli sings Giuseppe Verdi (WAV)

All thanks fly to Bob

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Performer: Franco Corelli
Audio CD
SPARS Code: AAD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: WAV (tracks)
Label: Gala
Size: 745 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. I lombardi: La mia letizia infondere
02. Ernani: Merce, diletti amici…
03. Macbeth: Ah, la paterna mano
04. La Battaglia di Legnano: O Magnanima e prima
05. La Battaglia di Legnano: E ver? Sei d’altri
06. Rigoletto: La donna e mobile
07. Il Trovatore: Desserto sulla terra
08. Il Trovatore: Sol or siamo
09. Il Trovatore: Condotta ell’era in ceppi
10. Il Trovatore: Non son tuo figlio!
11. Il Trovatore: Mal reggendo all’aspro assalto
12. Il Trovatore: Perigliarti ancor languente
13. Il Trovatore: Quale d’armi fragor
14. Il Trovatore: Ah, si! Ben mio coll’ essere
15. Il Trovatore: Di quella pira
16. Il Trovatore: Madre, non dormi?
17. Il Trovatore: Si, la stanchezza m’opprime-Ai nostri moniti
18. La forza del destino: O tu che in seno agli angeli
19. Aida: Celeste Aida
20. Otello: Esultate

“Coscia d’oro” sure can belto

For pennies you can have twenty live stereo recordings of Franco Corelli singing a medley of seminal Verdi arias and thus hear the most exciting Italian tenor of the last fifty years in repertoire ideally suited to his prodigious gifts.

It would be disingenuous not to mention some drawbacks: the performances are often rough and ready, in indifferent sound with raucous audience interruptions, some plodding conducting from the likes of Simonetto in the opening track from “I Lombardi” (sung so much more beguilingly by Carreras in his debut album on Philips with Roberto Benzi conducting). Corelli’s lisp is sometimes very pronounced as is a regrettable tendency, especially in the earlier recordings, to aspirate his vowels (hence we hear “nel suo bel co-hor-hore”, “ir se-hay-co” and “dove morta-hal”).

On the other hand, there are extraordinary compensations. Blessed with the Hollywood leading man looks of Montgomery Clift, this most handsome and temperamental of tenors, “Coscia d’oro (“Golden Thighs”) hurls his voice into the auditorium with a kind of frenetic and thrilling desperation which remains unparalleled in the history of opera. This is a voice to drink like the blushful Hippocrene, astonishing in its sensuous profligacy and extraordinarily secure, making Corelli’s pre-performance nervous agonies all the more incomprehensible. B flats, B’s and top C’s are trumpeted and prolonged shamelessly, yet Corelli also demonstrates the risky, husky diminuendo the execution of which some believe hastened the demise of his magnificent voice. Over the eleven years (1954-1965) covered by these recordings you will hear a gradual introduction of greater artistry, a steadying of the initially fluttering vibrato and fewer aspirates. The welcome presence of such seasoned Verdians as Karajan and Gavazzeni in the pit and Simionato and Cossotto as Azucena lends the “Trovatore” excerpts yet more distinction.

Yet for me the most satisfying track is Corelli’s version of “O tu che in seno agli angeli”, the most celebrated tenor aria from “La forza del destino” and one to rival Del Monaco’s celebrated live recording from the year before with Mitropoulos in Florence. The soaring passion and amplitude of his voice are just stunning. The final track is a 1954 RAI Torino broadcast of the opening two and a half minutes of “Otello”; in it Corelli provides us with a painful and tantalising reminder of the complete Otello he never gave us. Exuding confidence and security, huge of voice and bronze in tone, he gives us an “Esultate!” of surpassing grandure.

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