Spontini: La Vestale - Callas, Stignani, Corelli, Ross-Lemeni, Zaccaria; Votto. Milano, 1954
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This production of La Vestale, from La Scala, marks a big moment in the history of opera. Not only did it feature the great Maria Callas at the height of her vocal powers, it also marked the La Scala debut of Franco Corelli as Licinio as well as the first production of legendary director Luchino Visconti. The result is a performance that takes an opera, that is not enormously compelling and propels it to one of the most exalted levels of theater that you can ever hope to witness. Callas's voice is perfect for the role. She is respectful of the classical traditions still at play in Spontini's forms, and embraces the nascent romanticism with zeal. Franco Corelli sounds like a god as Licinio, and even though the role doesn't give him that much opportunity to show off his legendary top, he sets the music on fire with his ardent singing. Ebe Stignani is slightly passed her prime as La Gran Vestale. The sound is excellent.