OP0368. RIGOLETTO, recorded 1980, w.Giulini Cond. Vienna Staatsoper Ensemble; Piero Cappuccilli, Plácido Domingo, Ileana Cotrubas, Nicolai Ghiaurov, etc. 2-DG 415 288, Slipcase Edition w.Elaborate 193pp. Libretto-Brochure. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 028941528827
“Though Piero Cappuccilli never achieved international stardom, he was enormously admired within the field of opera for his rich and abundant voice, fine vocal technique and exceptional breath control. In the great Italian tradition he fused words and music into elegant phrases. He focused on Italian repertory, particularly the operas of Verdi, singing 17 major rôles. Some critics found his full-voiced singing blunt and burly. And in striving for expressive restraint, he could sometimes come across as stiff. But at his best, with his handsome physique and vocal authority, he made a powerful impact onstage.
In 1960, just three years into his professional career, he was tapped by the producer Walter Legge to sing the rôle of Enrico in a recording of LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, starring Maria Callas and conducted by Tullio Serafin. That EMI work remains a classic. In the mid-1970's, Claudio Abbado chose him for the title rôles in Verdi's SIMON BOCCANEGRA and MACBETH at La Scala. These productions led to studio recordings that remain prized by opera buffs.”
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 21 July, 2005
“Cotrubas made her stage debut with the Bucharest Opera as Yniold in Debussy's PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE in 1964. She subsequently expanded her repertory to include roles such as Oscar in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, Gilda in RIGOLETTO, and Blondchen in THE ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO and began appearing in productions throughout Europe - the Vienna State Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Berlin State Opera and Salzburg Festival, and the Frankfurt Opera. In 1969, she also made her British debut at the Glyndebourne Festival as Mélisande, and sang two succeeding seasons there in the title role of Cavalli's CALISTO. She made her début at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1971 as Tatyana in Tchaikovsky's EUGENE ONEGIN. Cotrubas signed a three-year contract with the Vienna State Opera in 1970. During her time there, she learned the roles of Susanna in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, Zerlina in DON GIOVANNI, Violetta in LA TRAVIATA, Mimi in LA BOHÈME, and Sophie in DER ROSENKAVALIER and made her La Scala debut on January 7, 1975, when she replaced Mirella Freni at La Scala as Mimi. She had to fly from her home in Kent and arrived 15 minutes before curtain time. Her interpretation was acclaimed by critics and audiences alike.
Cotrubas made her Metropolitan Opera debut on March 23, 1977, as Mimi in a production with José Carreras and Renata Scotto. While with the Met, she appeared as Gilda, opposite Plácido Domingo and Cornell MacNeil, in a televised performance of RIGOLETTO on November 7, 1977, and as Violetta, again opposite Domingo and MacNeil, in a televised performance of LA TRAVIATA on March 28, 1981. She sang a total of three other roles at the Met: Ilia in Mozart's IDOMENEO (in its Metropolitan Opera premiere), Tatiana in Tchaikovsky's EUGENE ONEGIN, and Micaëla in Bizet's CARMEN, the role of her final performance with the company on March 26, 1987.”
“Nicolai Ghiaurov, the Bulgarian bass was one of the leading opera singers of his day whose warm, rich bass voice made him ideal for roles like King Philip in Verdi's DON CARLO or the title role in Moussorgsky's BORIS GODOUNOV, both of which were among his signature roles. His vocal power and striking stage presence helped gain him the kind of accolades opera usually reserves for its tenors and sopranos.
His Metropolitan Opera debut, in November 1965, as Mephistopheles in Gounod's FAUST, received rapturous reviews. ‘The man indeed is sensational’, Harold C. Schonberg wrote in THE NEW YORK TIMES. ‘He not only has a remarkable voice, but he is also big in every way’. He added, ‘He has presence, the kind that Pinza and Chaliapin had, the kind that jumps over the footlights and seizes the listener in a palpable embrace’.
By then, Mr. Ghiaurov was already a star in Europe; his American debut, at the Chicago Lyric Opera, had taken place two years earlier. His Met debut would have come earlier, too, he told an interviewer in 1965, but a tenor accidentally got in the way. At a party in Milan, Rudolf Bing, the Met's general manager, made Mr. Ghiaurov an offer, which was overheard by Franco Corelli. According to Mr. Ghiaurov, Corelli ‘became very excited’ and said to Bing, ‘How dare you offer him so little? From then on, everything was ruined in that discussion’, Mr. Ghiaurov said.
As beloved as he was in New York, Mr. Ghiaurov never created a home base there of the kind he had in Europe; he sang 81 performances of 10 roles at the Met, including a gala in 1991 celebrating the 25th anniversaries his debut, Ms. Freni's and the tenor Alfredo Kraus's; he also appeared in the Met's centennial gala in 1983. His last performance there was in 1996, in RIGOLETTO.
He remained active in Europe, however. In 2001, he tried out a new role, Dosifey, the old believer, in Moussorgsky's KHOVANSHCHINA, in a new production in Zürich, having often sung Khovansky in the same opera. In December in Venice, he sang Basilio in Rossini's BARBER OF SEVILLE, the role in which he made his operatic debut in Sofia in 1955.
His remarkable vocal longevity was often attributed to his choice of roles suited to his voice and to his care in later years not to overextend himself with too many performances.
After his operatic debut, Mr. Ghiaurov's progress was rapid: Bologna in 1958, La Scala in 1959, Covent Garden in 1962. ‘It is not entirely good to move up with such speed’, he told an interviewer. ‘I do not have the long experience with the smaller roles first. Almost from the beginning it is the big roles’.”
- Anne Midgette, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 3 June, 2004