Verdi: Il Trovatore (In English) - Hunter, Sydney, Bailey, Lavigne, Gwynn; Mackerras. ENO, 1972
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This recording of Il Trovatore is yet another product of what may now be looked upon as the golden years of the English National Opera. In the seventies the ENO was committed to fostering home-grown singers and their efforts yielded the likes of Rita Hunter and Norman Bailey. Rita Hunter is simply spectacular as Leonora. "Tacea la notte" is sung with such remarkable finesse all the more impressive when you consider that she was already singing Brünnhildes. Norman Bailey was also dipping his toes into Wagnerian waters and manages to nonetheless sing a beautiful "Il balen" followed by a tireless cabaletta. Lesser known was Jon Sydney as Manrico and Gabrille Lavigne as Azucena but both artists hold their own next to these titans. Sir Charles Mackerras conducts a spritely and Italianate performance. Other interesting features of this performance include the complete cabaletta after "Tacea la notte" and an alternate beginning to Act III including a ballet which I have never heard before. The sound is good.