OP0241. IL TROVATORE, recorded 1991, w. Mehta Cond. Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Ensemble; Luciano Pavarotti, Antonella Banaudi, Leo Nucci, Shirley Verrett, etc. 2-London 430 694, w.Elaborate Libretto-brochure. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 028943069427
“Pavarotti is on good form and handles the text responsively. He fully appreciates that Manrico is not just a part for a tenor with a big voice to show off. His reactions are instinctive and natural as always. In “Di quella pira” his attack on the fioriture is not ideally clear - and the orchestra is too distant to add definition. That said, he gives the music all the required verve and his top Cs are all one would expect - we get both verses. In “Ai nosti monti” Pavarotti brings a beautifully judged mezzo voce to his consolation to his half-sleeping mother. His response to Leonora when he begins to suspect what she has promised to obtain his freedom is beautifully judged. There is no hint whatsoever here of the vulgarity of which the tenor was often accused in his later recordings. This is simply superb both as singing and interpretation.
At the time of the recording Antonella Banaudi was regarded as a future star, but her career failed to develop and she faded from view. Banaudi sings with plenty of expression and a proper regard for Verdi’s dynamic markings. She makes a good impression in “Tacea la note” despite some evident strain on her top D although she has the trills needed for “In tale amor”. In “Degg’io volgermi” she lets us hear some superbly delicate quiet singing which creates an enchanted atmosphere all too soon dispelled by the irruption of Pavarotti and Nucci. Her upper line in the following finale although properly leggierissimo is not brilliantissimo as instructed. At the end Pavarotti joins her in the line “Sei tu dal ciel di scenso”, not in Verdi’s score. In her big scene at the beginning of the Fourth Act she really comes into her own and gives us a superbly poised rendition of “D’amor sull’a rosee”. In the following “Miserere” Pavarotti is properly distanced and the bells which accompany the chorus are for once given at the correct bass pitch which Verdi indicates. In the final bars of the scene she adds a top C that Verdi did not write. All in all however one is sorry that her career was so curtailed, since there is plenty of promise here.
If Banaudi was at the beginning of her short career at the time of this recording, Verrett was at the end of hers; earlier ‘pirates’ from New York (1971, 1977 and 1987) exist. Her Azucena is a triumph of will and technique over fading natural resources, although she is the one principal singer who makes a conscious attempt to observe Verdi’s many dynamic and rhythmic markings and the drama springs to life in consequence. Her top notes although strong are shrill and frayed. Her voice is not ideally steady lower down; all her artistry cannot conceal the fact that the role demands a voice in its prime. Pavarotti in their duets consistently shows a command of volume that is no longer at her disposal.”
- Paul Corfield Godfrey, musicweb-international