Verdi: Il Trovatore - Varnay, Baum, Heidt, Warren, Silva; Morel. Mexico City, 1948
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This recording of Il Trovatore captures three great singers at the absolute height of their powers. Astrid Varnay was only 30 when this performance took place but was nonetheless a seasoned performer having made her debut at the age of 23 in Die Walküre. Varnay would go on to make her mark in the German repertoire but this recordings demonstrates that her opulent voice had considerable utility in Verdi. If she dodges the occasional high note she more than compensates with her electric stage presence and over-sized soprano voice. Despite the fact that Kurt Baum never gained star status, he displays a voice of remarkable control, power and beauty. Leonard Warren delivers one of the most beautifully sung renditions of "Il balen" I have ever heard. The one weak link of the cast is Winifred Heidt as Azucena. Although she reveals a pleasing tone, she is just not up to the challenges of this role. This recording was transferred from LP and has some residual scratchiness, but that doesn't stop this rare performance from coming to life 65 years after the fact.