OP1138. FALSTAFF, recorded 18 July, 1966, w.Rossi Cond. RAI Ensemble, Torino; Tito Gobbi, Ilva Ligabue, Walter Alberti, Giovanna Fioroni, Lidia Marimpietri, Agostino Lazzari, etc.; FORZA – Excerpts, 7 Dec., 1965, w.Gavazzeni Cond. La Scala Ensemble; Ilva Ligabue, Carlo Bergonzi & Nicolai Ghiaurov. (Slovenia) 2-Myto 061.323 (spine mislabeled 062.323). Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copies! [This is a real 'sleeper' - the best and most idiomatically conducted FALSTAFF you're ever likely to hear! Gobbi is inimitable! If one loves FALSTAFF, no serious collection should be without this fabulous performance!] - 608974503239
“Mario Rossi was an Italian conductor, noted for his solid and meticulous readings of a repertory ranging from Italian classics to Russian moderns such as Prokoffiev, to the German operatic classicist Christoph Willibald Gluck. He studied composition in Rome with Respighi and conducting with Giacomo Setaccioli, graduating in 1925, and soon after graduation he took up the post of assistant conductor to Bernardino Molinari. Appointed resident conductor of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence (1937–46), he made his début on the podium there in 1937 with Mascagni's IRIS. The following year he led the premiere of Gian Francesco Malipiero's opera ANTONIO E CLEOPATRA.
He conducted in all the major opera houses of Italy. As well as establishing himself in the standard Italian repertory, he took part in many revivals of ancient works such as Galuppi's IL FILOSOFO DI CAMPAGNA, Monteverdi's IL RITORNO D'ULISSE IN PATRIA, and Piccinni's LA BUONA FIGLIUOLA.
From 1946 till 1969 he served as chief conductor of the orchestra of the RAI in Turin. He elevated this group to an international level, making guest appearances in Brussels (1950), Vienna, (1951), and Salzburg (1952). Amongst his best performances on record were IL MATRIMONIO SEGRETO, IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, DON PASQUALE, UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, OTELLO and FALSTAFF.
His recordings of Gluck's PARIDE ED ELENA (1968) and of Prokoffiev's ALEXANDER NEVSKY (1954) display Rossi as an unquestionably great conductor whose styles in a 1770 German masterpiece as well as in a 20th-Century Russian masterpiece are remarkable for avoiding any distinctively ‘Italianate’ or otherwise inauthentic stylistic tendencies. In other words, the range of Rossi's musical sympathies was extraordinary. He was certainly one of the least-known of the great orchestral conductors of the 20th Century, one of the very few conductors who sounded authentically Gluckian when performing Gluck, just as much as he sounded authentically Verdian when performing Verdi. Achieving excellence across such a disparate repertory is rare even for great conductors, most of whom are stylistically authentic only in the music of a few periods, or a few nationalities (usually their own). For sheer universality, Rossi had few if any equals.”
- Zillah D. Akron
“Tito Gobbi was an admired operatic baritone. He originally studied at Padua University for a career in law, but he eventually gave that up in favor of pursuing voice lessons in Rome with Giulio Crimi. He made his operatic début in the town of Gubbio in 1935, as Count Rodolfo in Bellini's LA SONNAMBULA. He was hired at La Scala for the 1935-1936 season as an understudy; his first appearance there was as the Herald in Ildebrando Pizzetti's ORESEOLO.
He won the international singing competition in Vienna in 1936, and as a result he began getting improved billing; he sang the rôle of Germont in LA TRAVIATA at the Teatro Reale in Rome in 1937. In the same year he sang Lelio in Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari's LE DONNE CURIOSE, and continued singing secondary rôles there through 1939. He was promoted to primary rôles and in 1941 sang Ford in Verdi's FALSTAFF during a visit by the company to Berlin in 1941. Meanwhile, in a guest appearance at Rieti he first sang the rôle of Scarpia in Puccini's TOSCA in 1940. This was to become his best-known part.
Gobbi made his La Scala début in a major rôle in 1942 as Belcore in L'ELISIR D'AMORE The performance that made him famous, however, was as Wozzeck in the first Italian performance of Alban Berg's opera in Rome in November, 1942. Fighting raged throughout Italy following the Allied invasions there in 1943, interrupting his career. After the war he began to include international appearances. He first appeared in Stockholm in 1947 as Rigoletto; in 1948 he went to Covent Garden in concerts and to San Francisco to début as Figaro in Rossini's BARBER OF SEVILLE. His London operatic début was at Covent Garden as Belcore when the La Scala Company toured there. He appeared in Chicago in 1954 as Rossini's Figaro, and débuted at the Metropolitan Opera as Scarpia, 13 January, 1956. He sang Don Giovanni in Salzburg in 1952 under von Karajan's direction.
He took up producing as well, often at Chicago, where he made regular appearances, and producing opera became an ever more important part of his career after 1965, which is when he produced a performance starring himself in the title rôle of Verdi's SIMON BOCCANEGRA in London.
Gobbi was an excellent actor, had a high degree of musicianship and intelligence, had a flexible, rich, but not large baritone voice, and was at home in a wide variety of parts. He also appeared in 26 movies. He was the brother-in-law of another eminent singer, Boris Christoff. Gobbi retired from the operatic stage in 1979. He published an autobiography (TITO GOBBI: MY LIFE, 1979) and TITO GOBBI AND HIS WORLD OF ITALIAN OPERA (1984). He left a significant legacy of recorded performances, mainly made in the 1950s and 1960s.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
“After singing with success at most of the Italian opera houses, Ilva Ligabue won considerable acclaim in the lead rôle of BEATRICE DI TENDA at La Scala in 1961, followed by Margherita in Boito's MEFISTOFELE.
She then began appearing abroad, notably in Germany, also singing at the Vienna State Opera, the Paris Opera, and became a regular guest artist at the Glyndebourne Festival and the Aix-en-Provence Festival, where she was especially admired as Fiordiligi in COSI FAN TUTTE. She also appeared in Buenos Aires, Chicago and New York.
A sensitive and intelligent singer and a fine actress, other notable rôles included Amelia in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA and Desdemona in OTELLO.”
- Zilla Dorset Akron