Dallapiccola: Il Prigioniero (In English) - Treigle, Cassilly, McNight, Stern, Macurdy; Stokowski. 1960
Listen to a Sample of Il Prigioniero:
Listen to a Sample of Tosca:
I am always fascinated to hear Italian music post-Puccini. Some like Montemezzi carried on many of the traditions whereas Zandonai's palate seemed to borrow equal parts from French, Italian and German styles. Luigi Dallapiccola's Il Prigioniero seems to have taken the most from Alban Berg's playbook. Although there are aspects of atonality throughout the opera, a keen ear will note that, like Berg's music, it is still rooted in a tonal center. Likewise the nightmarish subject matter of an abject prisoner, alienated from society and tormented by superiors certainly contains many of the same themes as Wozzeck. That said, his Italian roots do manage to come through in the form of the occasional melody. This performance, sung in English, features the great Norman Treigle in the title role. Treigle's ability to fully inhabit a role make him an ideal exponent, and the doomed optimism that he conveys goes a long way to make the ending all the more tragic. Richard Cassilly was also a good choice as the jailor and grand inquisitor alternating sweet lyricism with dramatic heft making the motivations of the character seem all the more uncertain. The sound is very good.
Act III of Tosca with Steber and Cassilly.
To fill out the rest of the CD I have included this glimpse of a wonderful performance of Tosca featuring the great Eleanor Steber. Steber was nearing the end of her career when this performance was made. Although some of the bloom of her early days may have worn off, she still sings Tosca with ruthless abandon delivering, among other things, a spine-tingling high C. She is joined by Richard Cassilly as Cavaradossi and a young Marilyn Zschau as the Shepherd. The sound is very good.