Rossini: Guglielmo Tell - Guelfi, Raimondi, Gencer; Previtali. Napoli, 1965
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When Rossini's final opera became a massive success, he was pleased by its popularity but less so by the amounts of cuts most companies found necessary to present the work. There's a famous story of him attending a gala performance and being told by an excited impresario that "tonight, in your honor we will perform the second act of Guillaume Tell!", to which he replied "What? All of it?" He would probably have been pleased by this 1965 performance of the opera's italian version, captured in close sound from the Teatro San Carlo, for Fernando Previtali takes fairly sensible, nominal cuts, leaving even the wonderful ballet music intact. It helps that he has a cast that is up to the challenge… mostly. Gianni Raimondi, caught, perhaps, not on his very best day, is certainly ardent but struggles with Arnoldo's infamously difficult fourth act aria, and although Giangiacomo Guelfi sings "Restate Immobile" with great feeling and tenderness, he leans towards faceless in the other music. Leyla Gencer, on the other hand, gives a wonderfully intense, gorgeously sung performance as the princess Matilde, and the chorus and orchestra of the Teatro San Carlo have a fine showing. Previtali whips them into a frenzy in the great choral episode at the end of act three, and of course, the famous overture is delivered with thrill-inducing zest.