Mefistofele / Leonie Rysanek / Flying Dutchman / Sir Thomas Beecham

WAGNER: The Flying Dutchman
George London (Dutchman). Leonie Rysanek (Senta). Karl Liebl (Erik). Giorgio Tozzi (Daland). Belen Amparan (Mary).
William Olvis (Steersman). Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orch/Thomas Schippers,cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 136 (2 disks) TT: 2:23:48

MOZART: The Impresarior Overture K. 486. SAINT-SAÉN S: Ommphale's Spinning Wheel, Op. 31. HAYBN:
Syumphohy No. 102 in B flat. BERLIOZ: Les Troyens: Royal Hunt and Storm . Hungarian March from The
Damnation of Faust

Blue Network Symphony Orch/Sir Thomas Beecham,cond.

BOITO: Mefistofele
Samuel Ramey (Mefistofele). Vincenzo La Scola (Faust). Michèle Crider (Elena / Margherita). Eleonora Jankovic (Marta/Pantalis). Ernesto Gavazzi (Wagner/Nereo). La Scala Chorus and Orch/Riccardo Muti, cond.
Sony 88985334942 (2 disks) TT: 64:27 & 75:43
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BOITO: Mefistofele
Giulio Neri (Mefistofele). Ferrucio Tagliavini (Faust). Marcella Pobbe (Margherita). Ebe Ticozzi (Marta). Armando Benzi (Wagner/Nereo). Disma De Cecco (Elena). Ede Marretti Gamdolfo (Pantalis). RAI Torino Chorus and Orch/Angelo Questa,
URANIA WS 121.290 (2 disks) TT: 71 min.+ 65 min.
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March 4, 1960 was a sad night at the Metropolitan Opera. The great American baritone Leonard Warren died onstage during a performance of La forza del destino. He was only 48, a tragic loss for the world of opera. On this exciting Pristine release we have the entire broadcast of the following day, The Flying Dutchman. It begins with Milton Cross announcing Warren's death, and in his memory the orchestra plays the Prelude to Act III of La traviata.Then we hear a magnificent performance of Wagner;s terrific of the saga of the doomed Dutchman. This is as good as it gets. Leonie Rysanek in radiant form, a perfect Senta. And George London also at his peak, with a supporting cast that could not be bettered. And conductor Thomas Schippers leads a dynamic performance. Andrew Rose/s XR remastering provides a satisfying aural picture. Another superb Met Dutchman, from a decade earlier, with Hans Hotter and Astrid Varnay, was mentioned on this site when first issued on Naxos (REVIW). Recently it was issued at budget price on Sony. Collectors surely should own both versions.

Here's another welcome issue in Pristine's ABC Radio Network series. This fourth volume broadcast April 28, 1945. It is a showcase of Beecham specialties, precise, spirited Mozart, Haydn and French repertory. The two Berlioz showpieces are dazzling indeed. CD notes are a bit odd, with little information about this concert. Instead a review of Volume III by Gary Lemco of Audiophile Audition is quoted. At any rate, these are important additions to the Beecham discography.

In addition to writing libretti for some of Verdi's greatest operas, also was a remarkable composer. His biggest success was Mefistofele, premiered at La Scala in 1868. With a huge, exciting Epilogue and Prologue, it can be a thrilling night at the opera. It is a much more vivid representation of the subject than Gounod's, and the title role always has attracted great bassos including Nicolai Guiaurov, Boris Christoff, and Cesare Siepi. There have been many recordings, and now we have reissues of the famous 1954 Turin recording with Giulio Neri, and the more recent 1995 La Scala performance featuring Samuel Ramey, who specialized in the role. He made two audio recordings (the other was a Hungarian State Opera production) and there is a vide with the San Francisco Opera, as well as another San Francisco Opera video featuring Ildar Aldrazakov mentioned on this site (REVIEW). For more information about the opera, please check that review. For a modern recording of this powerful opera, surely the Muti La Scala is the one to own. He makes those big choral episodes exciting indeed.

R.E.B. (October 2016)