Vincenzo Bellini – La Sonnambula – Maria Callas, Orch del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Antonino Votto (1957/2014) [HRA 24-96]

Vincenzo Bellini – La Sonnambula – Maria Callas, Orch del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Antonino Votto (1957/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 02:00:56 minutes | 1,21 GB | Genre: Classical, Opera
Studio Master, Official Digital Download  | Source: highresaudio.com | Artwork: Front cover  | © Warner Classics
Recorded: 3–9.III.1957, Basilica di Sant’Eufemia, Milan

While all of Callas’s bel canto roles were revelatory, her first Amina achieved instant legendary status partly because of the Luchino Visconti production surrounding it. Visconti replicated a bygone era visually by costuming the slimmed-down diva in the manner of a 19th-century ballerina, while Callas replicated that time vocally, combining bel canto style with a full dramatic impersonation not associated with a role owned at the time by bird-like coloraturas. Callas transported Bellini’s lyric masterpiece back to the age of Giuditta Pasta, for whom it was created, offering her share of vocal fireworks – but in the name of expression. Suddenly, the opera itself was understood anew.

Two years later, at the time of this 1957 recording, La Scala had revived the opera for Callas. She, her voice, and the score were all further slimmed: Conductor Votto made cuts to tighten the piece (fortunately barely affecting Amina’s role); Callas was more ballerina-like than ever; and most important, she had scaled down her sound, finding a new delicacy of delivery that made her Amina more tender, her singing more Bellinian than in those first Aminas. Her exchanges with Elvino here are meltingly sung, pianissimi ethereal, and even the vocal pyrotechnics are enhanced by this fleet lightness of execution – note the bell-like staccati in both her opening and final cabalettas, and the breathtaking (literally!) diminuendo on a high E flat in the latter.

Callas sang Amina 22 times in all, between 1955 and 1957. The chapter ended sadly, the soprano being accused of cancelling a performance with La Scala on tour in Edinburgh, for which she had actually not been scheduled. She never sang it again – save for a mesmerising rendition of ‘Ah! non credea mirarti’ on French television in 1965. The role had clearly remained deeply important to Callas, who had painstakingly tamed her powerful voice – fresh from performances of Medea and Andrea Chénier when she first tackled Amina – to become the thread of silvery perfection we hear on this recording.

Tracklist:
Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835)
La sonnambula
Opera in two acts · Libretto: Felice Romani
ACT ONE
Scene One
1 Viva! Viva Amina!…Tutto è gioia, tutto è festa 5.34
2 In Elvezia non v’ha rosa (Coro/Lisa/Alessio) 3.29
3 Care compagne (Amina/Coro) 2.09
4 Come per me sereno…Sempre, o felice Amina (Amina/Tutti) 3.02
5 Sovra il sen la man mi posa 2.37
6 Io più di tutti, o Amina (Alessio/Amina/Lisa/Teresa/Coro/Notaro) 2.18
7 Perdona, o mia diletta (Elvino/Amina/Tutti/Notaro) 2.45
8 Prendi: l’anel ti dono (Elvino) 5.16
9 Scritti nel ciel già sono…Ah! vorrei trovar parola (Tutti/Elvino/Amina/Lisa) 3.16
10 Domani, appena aggiorni (Elvino/Tutti/Amina) 0.22
11 Come noioso e lungo il cammin…Vi ravviso, o luoghi ameni…È gentil, leggiadra molto 6.25
12 Contezza del paese 3.18
13 A fosco cielo, a notte bruna (Elvino/Rodolfo/Teresa/Lisa/Coro) 3.57
14 Basta così. Ciascuno si attenga (Rodolfo/Teresa/Tutti/Elvino) 1.22
15 Elvino! E me tu lasci 2.26
16 Son geloso del zefiro errante (Amina/Elvino) 5.56
Scene Two
17 Davver, non mi dispiace (Rodolfo/Lisa) 4.06
18 Che veggio? (Rodolfo/Amina/Lisa) 2.29
19 O ciel! che tento? (Rodolfo/Amina) 3.39
20 Osservate: l’uscio è aperto (Coro) 3.56
21 È menzogna (Elvino/Coro/Lisa/Amina) 2.05
22 D’un pensiero e d’un accento (Amina/Elvino/Coro/Alessio/Teresa) 5.20
23 Non più nozze (Elvino/Tutti/Amina/Lisa/Alessio/Coro/Teresa) 1.48
ACT TWO
Scene One
24 Qui la selva è più folta ed ombrosa (Coro) 5.54
25 Reggimi, o buona madre (Amina/Teresa) 4.35
26 Vedi, o madre…è afflitto e mesto (Amina/Elvino) 3.25
27 Viva il Conte! (Voci lontani/Elvino/Amina/Teresa/Coro) 1.27
28 Ah! perché non posso odiarti (Elvino/Teresa/Coro) 1.57
Scene Two
29 E fia pur vero, Elvino (Lisa/Elvino/Rodolfo/Alessio/Tutti) 1.56
30 Signor Conte, agli occhi miei (Elvino/Rodolfo/Coro/Lisa/Teresa) 4.35
31 Signor?…che creder deggio? (Elvino/Rodolfo/Teresa/Coro) 2.43
32 Oh! se una volta sola (Amina/Rodolfo/Teresa/Tutti) 5.32
33 Ah! non credea mirarti (Amina/Elvino) 4.43
34 No, più non reggo (Elvino/Amina/Rodolfo/Coro) 2.15
35 Ah! non giunge uman pensiero (Amina/Tutti) 4.12

Personnel:
Maria Callas, soprano (Amina)
Nicola Monti, tenor (Elvino)
Eugenia Ratti, soprano (Lisa)
Fiorenza Cossotto, mezzo-soprano (Teresa)
Nicola Zaccaria, bass (Rodolfo)
Giuseppe Morresi, bass (Alessio)
Franco Ricciardi, tenor (Notaro)
Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala Milan
Antonino Votto, conductor

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