Verdi: Macbeth - Jones, Petri, Franco Tagliavini, Haugland; Muti. Firenze, 1975
Listen to a Sample:
When one thinks of Gwyneth Jones, Wagner is usually the first thing that comes to mind. Although she certainly rose to the top of the Wagnerian food chain in her day, all of her early successes came via the operas of Giuseppe Verdi, including her breakout Covent Garden debut as Leonora in Il Trovatore and her American debut in Dallas as Lady Macbeth. Here in 1975 she comes back to her roots and establishes that the steady diet of Wagnerian roles has not taken any of the sheen off her voice. If anything there is increased steel to her voice without compromising her ability to deliver spot-on coloratura that often bedevils sopranos who attempt Verdi's early leading ladies. She is joined by Mario Petri in the title role. His voice may have more elegance than one might associate with this part. Dramatically this works well because it suggests that the character might actually be fundamentally good and a mere victim of his wife's ambitions. Aage Haugland may not have the most Italianate voice, but he nonetheless delivers a beautiful "Come dal ciel precipito." Franco Tagliavini is a sweet-voiced Macduff. The sound is excellent. In fact, the mics seem to be set back a little further which really gives a very faithful idea of what it was like to hear Jones' colossal voice in the theater.