OP0259. LA RONDINE (Puccini), recorded 1966, w.Molinari-Pradelli Cond. RCA Italiana Ensemble; Anna Moffo, Daniele Barioni, Graziella Sciutti, Mario Sereni, Piero de Palma, etc.. (Italy) 2-RCA Lyrica LRC 0108. Very long out-of-print, Final Elusive Copy! - 8014394401086
“It was this RCA version, recorded in July 1966, that has set the standard and will probably never be surpassed. Anna Moffo's luscious voice, combined with her complete understanding of and sympathy with the lead role of Magda is perfection. She was well suited to this role, at least, in the studio, and makes it seem far more than the usual distant cousin to LA TRAVIATA's Violetta. Nowhere is there the feeling that her rather small voice is getting lost in orchestra or during ensemble sections. Daniele Barioni brings more facets to Ruggero's personality than anyone before or since; Mario Sereni adds a humanity to the wealthy Rambaldo that makes the listener understand why Magda would return to him at the end of the opera. The second pair of lovers is interestingly cast. Graziella Sciutti's rather tart tone works better in the role of Lisette than almost any other part she sang, although she brought distinction to everything from FIDELIO's Marzelline to FIGARO's Susanna. It is a pleasure and a privilege to hear comprimario tenor Piero De Palma promoted to the leading role of poet Prunier, especially when it is handled with the relish and sensitivity displayed here. Francesco Molinari-Pradelli's conducting shows real intelligence, avoiding the deliberate tempo changes that most conductors exaggerate when leading this work.
Let's not forget the music itself. Even when it is performed in a less than perfect fashion (it requires a tremendous amount of precision in its detail for principals, chorus and orchestra), it is an intensely moving experience. Handled the way it is on this recording, it could melt the heart of a stone. While the third act has always been somewhat of a letdown after the brilliance of the preceding two, the artistry evidenced here makes the characters' decisions seem far less contrived. This is a recording that deserves to be treated with the same reverence as is paid to the 1953 recording of TOSCA (with Callas, di Stefano, Gobbi and De Sabata conducting). Bravo to all concerned: this is an achievement that will hopefully be enjoyed by many, many generations to come.”
- Hans Lick