Verdi: La Battaglia di Legnano - Gencer, Limarilli, Taddei, Washington; Gui. Firenze, 1959
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The so-called "galley years" of Verdi yielded such an embarrassment of riches like La Traviata, Rigoletto and Il Trovatore that it was inevitable that some would get lost in the shuffle. La Battagli di Legnano is one such example. I must admit that I have never seen a performance of this opera so I can't say whether it works dramatically. I can just vouch for the music which is immediately engrossing from the first bars of the overture, without coming across as rote or by the numbers. This performance captures that spark that separated Verdi's earlier compositions from the other bel canto composers due in no small part to the excellent Lina of Leyla Gencer. In 1959 Gencer was in the prime of her career and delivers some singing which is at times truly astonishing both for her technical control and wild abandon. Gastone Limarilli's Arrigo can come across a little under-engerized at times but his control over his large voice is impressive. Giuseppe Taddei is outstanding as Rolando. There are very few Verdi baritones in the history of opera that could deliver the most tender and sensitive of cavatinas and then turn on a dime to proffer up a thrilling cabaletta. The sound is good, although at times scratchy from the transfer from LP to CD.
Tchaikovsky's Pique Dame, sung in Italian, featuring Leyla Gencer.