OP0007. AGNESE DI HOHENSTAUFEN (Spontini), Live Performance, 6 May, 1954, w.Gui Cond. Teatro Comunale Ensemble, Firenze; Lucille Udovich, Franco Corelli, Francesco Albanese, Enzo Mascherini, Giangiacomo Guelfi, Anselmo Colzani, Dorothy Dow, etc. (Italy) 2-Myto 042.H084. Long out-of-print, final copies! - 8014399500845
"Many years of labor went into Spontini's final stage work. It was first performed in 1829 and given in a much-revised edition in 1837. With its huge orchestra, vast cast, and the subordination of set arias to massive and extended ensembles, it broke with all conventions. It was ahead of its time and clearly influenced many later composers, including Meyerbeer and Wagner. Unfortunately, it did not please its early audiences. Following those initial outings, it languished unheard until its 1954 Florence revival, drastically abridged. Although strongly criticized at the time, mainly on dramatic grounds, the production finally revealed the unique quality of the work and its vital importance in the development of 19th Century neoclassical romantic opera. Ignoring the overblown nature of the libretto, there is much of musical worth, and a fine collection of star soloists does justice to the melodic, intense and sometimes frenetic vocal writing.
There is one other recording on CD taken from a Muti-conducted RAI broadcast of 1970, with Montserrat Caballé. Guelfi reprised his role but in slightly less refulgent voice. The sound may be stereophonic and richer, and conducting laurels remain even; but Gui has, Caballé excepted, somewhat finer soloists. Not least of these is the young Franco Corelli, heard here already experimenting with the variety of nuance and dynamic that was to become one of his most admired characteristics.
...a version of this seminal score should be in the collection of anyone interested in 19th Century romantic opera and fine singing."
- Vivian A Liff, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Nov./ Dec., 2004
"Udovich was born in Denver, Colorado, and grew up in California. She appeared in a series of concerts around Milan, and then moved to Rome, where she remained for the rest of her life. Beniamino Gigli invited her to perform with him in one of his last concert tours in Italy. Udovich made her opera début in Spontini's AGNESE DI HOHENSTAUFEN [above] in 1954 at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino with Franco Corelli and Giangiacomo Guelfi, conducted by Vittorio Gui. She inaugurated a second festival with ANTIGONE by the baroque composer Tommaso Traetta. She made other appearances with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Bart's BLUEBEARD'S CASTLE, in Verdi's REQUIEM, and Rossini's PETITE MESSE SOLENNELLE; and with the RAI Orchestra in PETER GRIMES and Britten's WAR REQUIEM, and Schönberg's GURRE-LIEDER. Udovich performed in the Rome Opera, Comunale of Florence, Fenice of Venice, and the San Carlo of Naples. At the Glyndebourne Festival Opera she sang Elettra in Mozart's IDOMENEO. She was invited to Torre del Lago for the 100th anniversary of Puccini. She is best remembered for a TURANDOT with Franco Corelli telecast by RAI in 1958. Her career was halted because of back problems she had encountered. She died in Rome, aged 69."
"Vocal size and rugged style mark [Corelli] as an open-air tenor....The vibrancy of his timbre is unequaled among tenors, and often it holds a commendable warmth as well."
- Paul Jackson, SIGN-OFF FOR THE OLD MET, p.374