Bellini: Beatrice di Tenda - Sutherland, Horne, Cassilly, Sordello; Rescigno. New York, 1961
Listen to a Sample:
It is unlikely that Beatrice di Tenda will achieve the same level of acceptance in the operatic canon as Norma or La Sonnambula. But when a cast like this is assembled the merits of the work all of sudden come to light. Like many of Bellini's compositions, the roles were tailor made for the greatest singers of the day. That presents an enormous roadblock in casting, as you need to find a soprano on the level of Giuditta Pasta. Not being old enough to have heard Pasta, I cannot attest to her portrayal, but it is hard to imagine that she could have sung it better than the great Joan Sutherland. Sutherland tackles the dizzying demands with astonishing security and confidence. She is joined by frequent collaborator, Marilyn Horne, as Agnese (Richard Cassilly told me years later that Horne was a last minute replacement.) Although the part is high for a mezzo role, Horne both matches and compliments Sutherland's artistry superbly. As Richard Cassilly's career progressed he would move into the heldentenor rep, so it is surprising that he would venture a bel canto role and doubly surprising that he would excel in it. The heady quality of his voice matched with his superb technique would have one believing that he could have just as easily become a bel canto specialist. It is also worth noting that this performance marked the New York debut of both Horne and Sutherland. The sound is good.