OP0006. GEMMA DI VERGY (Donizetti), Live Performance, 12 Dec., 1975, Napoli, w.Gatto Cond. Teatro San Carlo;
Montserrat Caballé, Giorgio Casellato-Lamberti, Renato Bruson, Bianca Maria Casoni, etc. 2-Opera d'Oro OPD 7055. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 723721346355
“Premiered at La Scala in December, 1834 (and immediately following MARIA STUARDA), Gemma di Vergy was a hit, running 26 performances before moving all over Italy and the rest of Europe, where it held on for more than 60 years. It then dropped dead, and it was the revival in Naples in December, 1975 for Montserrat Caballé that brought it back, however briefly.
The title role is very difficult, lying in the passagio - that dangerous F-G-A range going up the staff - with some much higher outbursts….in general, those long-arched phrases and gorgeous pianissimos for which she’s famous are here to be savored. She also sang it in New York and Barcelona a couple of times before deeming it too difficult–‘the equivalent of singing three Normas’.
As the wicked if one-dimensional Count, baritone Renato Bruson is at his finest, singing with a smooth-as-silk legato, perfect round tone, and even a swell, interpolated high-A at the end of his second-act cabaletta. Tamas is tenor Giorgio Casellato Lamberti, and he sings with conviction and manly tone, making what he can of this noble if misdirected character. The rest of the cast is good enough. Conductor Armando Gatto whips the orchestra and singers into a proper frenzy in the big numbers, and elsewhere he’s considerate - almost to a fault - of Caballé. For a Donizetti completist this recording is crucial, why not add another, sometimes-very-impressive bel canto opera to your collection?”
- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com