Offenbach: Les Contes d'Hoffmann - Simoneau, Danco, London, Capecchi; Schoenen. Wien, 1954
Listen to a Sample:
Any good recording of Les Contes d'Hoffmann is only as good as the man in the title role. Here the great Leopold Simoneau assumes the part. Having only been acquainted with this singer via his superb recordings of Mozart, I had my reservations as to whether he could convey the poet's tormented ardor. His voice may not have the same kind of punch that others did, but he makes up for it by singing with grace and a rock solid technique. I can't think of any other tenor who was able to sing with such purity of tone without ever sounding emasculated or wimpy. Suzanne Danco lends her talents to the roles of Giulietta and Antonia. Certainly the role of Antonia is more suited to her lyric instrument although she reveals that she has a little bit of spinto in her during the final trio where she soars to a great high c sharp. George London is just about perfect as the four villains. His voice had just the right mixture of baritone and bass to make the mellifluous singing like "Scintille diamante" sound suave and seductive while harnessing the black hue of his voice when he the role calls for optimum villainy. As an added bonus we are spoiled by the Spalanzani of Renato Capecchi. The sound is good although this recording was transferred from LPs there is the occasional scratch.