Rossini: Semiramide - Sutherland, Simionato, Ganzarolli, G. Raimondi; Santini. Milano, 1962
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This recording could star no one but Joan Sutherland. Caught at the height of her powers, she sings this performance of one of her greatest roles with unyielding power, impeccable fluidity and flawless accuracy. Beside her is Giulietta Simionato in a role that, although perhaps not an ideal fit, finds her in top form. Their duet in act two is a match of truly great voices. Next to them, Wladimiro Ganzarolli sounds a bit threadbare, but he delivers his mad scene with fiery intensity. Gianni Rolandi, with his arias cut, has little to do, but what is there is quite notable. This run of Semiramide played an instrumental role in returning the opera to the active repertoire, as the forces at La Scala were forced to re-assemble the opera from Rossini's manuscripts. Gabriele Santini leads the evening, and if his tempi err on the side of too slow, he does not let the momentum lag either. The sound is generally solid, and although the performance has a few cuts more than the purist in me would like, it is easy to forget when the glorious leading ladies are singing.