Verdi: La Forza del Destino - Gencer, Di Stefano, Protti, Siepi; Votto. Köln, 1957
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When the forces of La Scala went on Tour, they really brought their A-game with them. This 1957 performance of Verdi's masterpiece, recorded in Köln, is a brooding, pulsating experience, with a terrific cast and an exceptional conductor. Antonino Votto was so ubiquitous in the late 50s that one forgets how capable he really was, and he is in exceptional form here, especially in the religious passages. The cast is led by a stunning Leyla Gencer, whose anguished Leonora is heard to best effect in her duet with Cesare Siepi's calm, gorgeously-sung Father Superior. Giuseppe Di Stefano, caught shortly before his vocal decline began, is a beautifully multi-faceted Alvaro. Aldo Protti's Carlo is a little more utilitarian, but he sings well and is certainly nasty enough. Enrico Campi is a little too fussy as Fra Melitone but Gabrielle Carturan is a sexy, charming Preziosilla. The only significant downside is the cuts, which most notably include the Carlo-Alvaro confrontation in the second scene of act three. The sound is good, if not great, but the performance is both.