OP0208. ADRIANA LECOUVREUR, recorded 1951, w.Simonetto Cond. RAI Ensemble, Milano; Carla Gavazzi, Giacinto Prandelli, Mitì Truccato Pace, Saturno Meletti, Plinio Clabassi, etc. (Italy) Fonit CDO 20, w.Libretto-Brochure. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 8003927138636
“Carla Gavazzi was born in 1913 and made her debut as Mimì in 1940. Alongside the expected Italian roles (Liù, Desdemona, Manon Lescaut) she appeared in an Italian production of Hindemith’s MATHIS DER MALER and in such contemporary Italian works as Malipiero’s LA FAVOLA DEL FIGLIO CAMBIATO, Respighi’s LA CAMPANA SOMMERSA and Alfano’s CYRANO DE BERGERAC and RISURREZIONE. Alfano chose her to give the première of his song cycle to poetry by Tagore. Not long after her persistent nervous problems, exacerbated by the fact that her son had contracted polio, compelled her to withdraw from the scene. Sadly, her retirement coincided with an offer from Covent Garden which might have launched her to an international career. Less sadly, her son overcame his illness without serious after-effects and is today an active Milanese lawyer while Carla Gavazzi herself, though frail, is still very much alive.
The evidence here is that, in an epoch during which many a fine soprano (Carteri, Pobbe, Cerquetti, Frazzoni, etc.) was squeezed out of existence by the competition between Callas and Tebaldi, Gavazzi might have held her own. Her spoken first entrance (what a master-stroke by Cilea!) is already impressive and she reveals a voice which is ringingly firm on the high notes, has a strong body of sound in the middle register and employs the chest resonance on the lower notes without a noticeable ‘break’ as she passes from one to another. Above all it is a voice charged with emotion. Her singing of ‘Io son l’umile ancella’ strikes an ideal balance between verbal expression and musical flow (the conductor is a great help here). Many a modern version seems bland and stagnant in comparison. In the later aria ‘Poveri fiori’ Gavazzi adds some sobs of the old theatrical kind. I shouldn’t think any modern singer would be encouraged to do this in the studio, or even in the theatre, and yet such devices are not foreign to the tradition in which Cilea wrote and I found the effect, in context, theatrical and even moving. That this is so is due to the fact that by that time Gavazzi, together with the whole cast, had me completely under her spell. This is a very fine assumption.
Giacinto Prandelli was born in 1914 and, as far as I can discover, is still alive. He sang a wide range of roles including the first Italian Peter Grimes. He also took part in a recording of Zandonai’s FRANCESCA DA RIMINI with Caniglia and Tagliabue under the legendary but seriously under-recorded conductor Antonio Guarnieri.
His is a strong, reliable voice, but also flexible and able to launch ‘La dolcissima effige’ softly and sweetly without recourse to semi-falsetto. He is well inside the part and it seems strange that his services were not more widely called upon by the recording companies.
I can find no dates for Saturno Meletti who was nonetheless well-regarded over a period of at least two decades. Back in 1941 he had taken part in two very important recordings, singing Fra Melitone in LA FORZA DEL DESTINO under Gino Marinuzzi (another legendary but seriously under-recorded conductor) and David in L’AMICO FRITZ, with Pia Tassinari and Carlo Tagliabue under the baton of Mascagni himself. He seems to have made quite a niche for himself as Kyoto in Mascagni’s IRIS, of which three versions exist. The latest recording I can trace is yet another Mascagni opera, GUGLIELMO RATCLIFF, recorded for Cetra in 1963 under Armando La Rosa Parodi and also featuring the Princess of the present LECOUVREUR, Miti Truccato Pace. It is a mellow, resigned-sounding voice, clearly not that of a young man and just right for the part. He makes much of his monologue.
To tell the truth even Cetra and the RAI did not often give Miti Truccato Pace large parts and her performance of ‘Acerba voluttà’ reveals some vocal shortcomings. Her chest register is powerful and her top notes are good, but the middle register, where logically you expect a mezzo to shine, is somewhat woolly. So the changes from one register to another tend to be more noticeable than they should be. However, while this isn’t the best performance of ‘Acerba voluttà’ you will find she is a convinced performer and in all the various exchanges and ensemble work she contributes regally. The two ladies really strike sparks off one another during their Act 3 confrontations.
Plinio Clabassi is another name worthy of remembrance; he was heard as Melchtal in the Cetra GUGLIELMO TELL of the same year and was another stalwart of many a RAI production. In 1952, for example, he sang Don Fernando (in FIDELIO) and Count Des Grieux (in Massenet’s MANON), both conducted by Vittorio Gui and of considerable interest even though they are sung in Italian.
The other comprimari roles are well taken and there is some fine orchestral playing under Alfredo Simonetto who sets some rattling tempi for the big ensembles, sees that everything is narrated with great fluidity, and knows how to draw yards of plush from the slower scenes without actually getting all that slow. Test him in any of the orchestral interludes; he does not put a foot wrong anywhere.”
- Christopher Howell, musicweb-international