Wagner: Parsifal (In Italian) - Baldelli, Callas, Christoff, Panerai, Modesti; Gui. Rai di Roma, 1950
Listen to a Sample:
Years ago when I first heard this performance of Parsifal, it was quite difficult for me to get over then oddity of it being sung in Italian. Upon closer reexamination I have found that if you can get past that there is actually a superb performance here independent of the fact that it also features the great Maria Callas as Kundry. If only more of Callas' performances of Wagner still existed as this is a tantalizing glimpse into what her Walküre Brünnhilde and Isolde must have been like. The intensity and commitment that Callas brought to roles like Tosca and Norma make Kundry a natural fit. She also achieves some mesmerizing moments particularly in her act II monolog, "Grausamer" in which she describes after having laughed at Christ on the cross, being moved by pity. It is remarkable that she was only 27 when this performance was made. Africo Baldelli is a sturdy, if somewhat unremarkable Parsifal, although he brings a cantabile quality to his singing which serves him quite well in the third act. Boris Christoff is a sonorous Gurnemanz and Rolando Panerai brings a sweet bel canto quality to Amfortas even during his anguished outbursts. All in all this group of Italians (and Italian specialists) manages to bring the best of their tradition to Wagner without perverting his singular vision for one of the most mystical operas ever written. The sound is good.