Verdi: Il Trovatore - Price, Pavarotti, Ludwig, Cappuccilli, Van Dam; Karajan. Wien 1977
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I think it was Caruso who joked that to put on Il Trovatore, all you need are the four greatest singers in the world. Herbert von Karajan came damn close in this glorious 1977 performance. Christa Ludwig would not necessarily be a natural fit for Azucena, but she has more than enough thunder at her disposal and she is predictably gripping as the haunted gypsy. Piero Cappuccilli, master of the firm legato line, is an exciting Conte di Luna, and José van Dam turns in an exceptional Ferrando in an example of luxury casting (while we're on the subject, also note the presence of the great Heinz Zednik, on hand for Ruiz's few utterances). Luciano Pavarotti, caught in his prime, is a gorgeously sung Manrico, who manages not only a thrilling ”Di Quella Pira” but also a melting <“em>Ah sì, ben mio”. About his Leonora, the great Leontyne Price, little need be said. Everything you would imagine this performance to be, it is. The sound is generally good, if a little distant, and Karajan raises fire from the orchestra. Not to be missed.