Spontini: La Vestale - Janowitz, Py, Baldani, Ferrin; López Cobos. Roma, 1974
Listen to a Sample:
Like many, I only knew this opera from the arias Maria Callas recorded. I was therefore very excited about the excuse to sit down and listen to the whole thing. The opera was written in a transition from Classical to Romantic periods and exists simultaneously in both worlds. On one hand the classical plot and the musical forms point backwards but Spontini was also experimenting with an expanded orchestra and richer harmonic language. There is some very exciting writing for the Trombones and I even believe that there is a Tam-Tam crash. Even the plot about a Vestal virgin torn between the devotion to her cult and the romantic love she feels for Licinius can almost be seen as a metaphor for the early Romantics wanting to rebel from there Classical forefathers but still feeling a loyalty to them. Gundula Janowitz sings the part of Julia. She is a perfect casting choice as her voice is both pure and ethereal and is up to the dramatic demands that Spontini puts on the soprano voice. The rest of the cast includes Gilbert Py as Licinius, Ruza Baldani as La Grande Vestale and Agostino Ferrin as the Pontiff. All lend their talents admirably to this endeavor although, with the exception of Py, they would have benefited from a good French diction coach. The sound is excellent.