Ruggero Leoncavallo – I Pagliacci – Maria Callas, Orch del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Tullio Serafin (1954/2014) [HRA 24-96]

Ruggero Leoncavallo – I Pagliacci – Maria Callas, Orch del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Tullio Serafin (1954/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 1:12:49 minutes | 717 MB | Genre:Classical, Opera
Official Digital Download – Source: | Digital Booklet | © Warner Classics
Recorded: 12–17. June 1954, Teatro alla Scala, Milan

The role of Nedda in Leoncavallo’s verismo classic never entered Callas’s stage repertoire, and so her recording made with the forces of La Scala, Milan, between 12 and 17 June 1954 represents one of her explorations of an opera made purely within the confines of the studio, rather than developing over a period on the stage. But as in all such cases – this was the first time she recorded a role she had not previously sung – Callas’s desire to explore it to the fullest remains paramount. There is a complete identification between singer and character, down to the smallest detail, that make her Nedda an unusually complex creation that grows throughout the opera as she responds to its desperate emotional thrills and spills.

The result was well received on its release, the editor of Opera magazine, Harold Rosenthal, describing it in November 1955 as ‘the definitive Pagliacci’ and Callas’s performance as ‘most convincing characterisation’ and ‘a joy’; he goes on to single out her scene with Tito Gobbi’s Tonio as ‘one of the most vivid pieces of operatic acting I can recall; and the way she reserves a different voice for Columbine is another sign of her fine theatrical sense’. Callas was working here, of course, with several valued colleagues – notably the distinguished Italian conductor Tullio Serafin, who coached her in so many of her greatest roles. Then there’s Tito Gobbi, the supreme actor amongst Italian baritones of the period; Callas devotee John Ardoin noted of their duet that it is ‘in many ways the heart of Callas’s performance. Again we find the strong dramatic interplay which always permeated a Callas-Gobbi encounter.’ Crucial, too, is her ongoing artistic relationship with Giuseppe di Stefano, here on his most focused form. With strong support from Nicola Monti’s Beppe and Rolando Panerai’s Silvio, Callas brings the opera to life. –GEORGE HALL, 2014

Ruggero Leoncavallo 1857–1919
Opera in two acts and a prologue · Libretto: Ruggero Leoncavallo
1 Si può? Si può? (Tonio) 7.49

Scene One
2 Son qua! (Coro) 3.12
3 Un grande spettacolo a ventitré ore (Canio/Coro/Tonio/Beppe) 2.46
4 Un tal gioco, credetemi, è meglio non giocarlo (Canio/Nedda/Coro) 2.47
5 I zampognari!…Din, don. Suona vespero (Ragazzi/Coro/Canio) 3.57
Scene Two
6 Qual fiamma avea nel guardo…Hui! Stridono lassù (Nedda) 4.37
7 Sei là! Credea che te ne fossi andato 0.53
8 So ben che lo scemo contorto son io (Nedda/Tonio) 4.06
9 Nedda!…Silvio! A quest’ora che imprudenza 1.23
10 E fra quest’ansie in eterno vivrai (Silvio/Nedda) 2.37
11 Non mi tentar! (Nedda/Silvio/Tonio) 1.22
12 E allor perché, di’, tu m’hai stregato (Silvio/Nedda/Tonio/Canio) 5.21
13 Derisione e scherno! (Canio/Nedda/Beppe/Tonio) 2.56
14 Recitar! Mentre preso dal delirio 0.45
15 Vesti la giubba (Canio) 2.38
16 Intermezzo (Orchestra) 3.13

17 Presto, affrettiamoci (Coro/Tonio/Beppe/Silvio/Nedda) 4.10
La commedia
18 Pagliaccio, mio marito (Nedda [Colombina]) 1.51
19 Ah! Colombina, il tenero (Beppe [Arlecchino]) 1.38
20 Di fare il segno convenuto (Nedda [Colombina]/Tonio [Taddeo]/Beppe [Arlecchino]) 4.14
21 Arlecchin!…Colombina! 2.27
(Nedda [Colombina]/Beppe [Arlecchino]/Tonio [Taddeo]/Canio [Pagliacci])
22 Coraggio! Un uomo era con te (Canio [Pagliacci]/Nedda [Colombina]/Tonio [Taddeo]) 1.59
23 No, Pagliaccio non son 3.09
24 Suvvia, così terribile (Canio/Coro/Silvio/Nedda) 2.51

Maria Callas, soprano (Nedda)
Giuseppe Di Stefano, tenor (Canio)
Tito Gobbi, baritone (Tonio)
Rolando Panerai, baritone (Silvio)
Nicola Monti, tenor (Beppe)
Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala, Milan
Tullio Serafin, conductor