OP1751. LA BATTAGLIA DI LEGNANO (Verdi), Live Performance, 14 Nov., 1973, w.Rinaldi Cond. RAI Ensemble, Milano; Rita Orlandi-Malaspina, Gianfranco Cecchele, Mario Sereni, Mario Rinaudo, etc. (E.U.) 2–Myto 0012. - 3830257900122
“LA BATTAGLIA DI LEGNANO was written in 1848, when Verdi was in full patriotic mode. The libretto tells of the 12th Century victory of the Lombard League over Frederick Barbarossa and tosses in an irrelevant love triangle. The music moves swiftly, but this is one Verdi opera that has no well-known excerpts, no memorable tunes. Its best moments are in Act 2, when the leaders of Milan and Como hold a council, and Act 3, when the ‘Knights of Death’ meet in the vaults of St Ambrose church to music that eerily prefigures some of DON CARLO….”
- Ralph V. Lucano, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Sept./Oct., 2012
“Rita Orlandi-Malaspina is an Italian operatic soprano who had a major international career from the 1960s through the 1980s. She drew particular acclaim for her portrayals of Verdi heroines. She has also had a successful career as a concert soprano, particularly in performance of Verdi's REQUIEM and Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony #9. She is married to bass Massimiliano Malaspina who also has an important opera career. Prior to her marriage she performed under the name Rita Orlandi.
Born in Bologna, Orlandi-Malaspina was a student of soprano and voice teacher Carmen Melis in Milan. She made her professional stage début in Milan in 1963 at the Teatro Nuovo as Giovanna in Verdi's GIOVANNA D'ARCO. She quickly became a major figure in Italy's most important opera houses during the 1960s. Orlandi-Malaspina enjoyed a particularly fruitful partnership with La Scala, where she made her début on 29 April 1966 as Leonora in Verdi's LA FORZA DEL DESTINO under the baton of Gianandrea Gavazzeni. Other Verdi roles she was admired for at that house were Aïda, Amelia IN UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, Elvira in ERNANI, Leonora in IL TROVATORE, and Odabella in ATTILA. She also appeared as a guest artist at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, the Teatro di San Carlo, La Fenice, the Teatro Regio di Parma, the Teatro Massimo, the Teatro Regio di Torino, the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, and the Teatro Comunale Giuseppe Verdi. She was a regular performer at the Arena di Verona Festival where she sang in 1968–1969 and 1971–1972. She also made several appearances at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome.
On the international stage Orlandi-Malaspina has sung as a guest at the Royal Opera, London, the Bavarian State Opera, the Hamburg State Opera, the Palais Garnier, the Opéra de Nice, the Théâtre du Capitole, the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden, the Liceu, La Monnaie, the Vienna State Opera, the Teatro Colón, the Opéra de Montréal, and the Opera Company of Philadelphia. On 17 October 1968 she made a successful début at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City as Amelia in Verdi's SIMON BOCCANEGRA with Cornell MacNeil in the title role. She sang several more times with the company over the next 12 years portraying the roles of Elisabetta de Valois in DON CARLO and Aïda.”
“Gianfranco Cecchele was born in 1938 in Padua, Italy. Even as a child he showed a precocious interest in opera and operatic singing. His interest was steadfast, and by 1963, when he was 25 years old, he decided to take some voice lessons. His teachers were impressed with his vocal potential, and in the same year he won a singing contest organized by the Teatro Nuovo in Milan. His début followed quickly, and in the following year he débuted at the Teatro Bellini in Catania, in a relatively obscure work, a one-act pastoral poem by Giuseppe Mulè entitled LA ZOLFARA. Possessed of a heroic voice, however, he quickly (within the same year, actually) moved on to La Scala to sing no less than the leading role in Wagner's RIENZI! Next—and this is all in 1964—on to Rome and AÏDA. Clearly, this young tenor with a stentorian voice was making a quick and powerful impression on audiences and critics alike. In rapid succession he accumulated a repertoire that included, in addition to Rienzi and Radamès, Don Carlo, Turridu, Don Alvaro and Calaf. In the following year he appeared at the Paris Opéra, with Maria Callas, in NORMA. It is hard to imagine a more rapid rise in a very demanding repertoire, and that of course was a double-edged sword. He was, after all, only in his 20's! He reputation spread throughout Europe and he gave 241 performances between 1964 and 1969. Of course, the inevitable happened, and toward the end of the period, around '67 and '68, he seriously strained his voice, causing vocal inflammation. Too many big roles too quickly. He had to quit singing entirely at that point, at least for a while, to undergo a long and painful recuperation from swollen and seriously strained vocal musculature. After a few years, however, he was re-establishing himself, and adding some less demanding roles to his repertoire and singing less often, having learned the lesson that many tenors do. Had he displayed that wisdom earlier on, there would likely not have been an interruption in his career. Also, the fact that he sang very largely in Italy made him an opera singer who, while enormously popular there, was not much known in America. This is also the case with two other fine Italian tenors, Mario Filippeschi and Salvatore Fisichella.”
- Edmund St Austell
“Although he never achieved the star status of his some of his baritone contemporaries in the Italian repertory, Mario Sereni was an unfailingly sincere, intelligent artist of great commitment….Sereni, was a valuable member of the Metropolitan Opera’s roster for more than 27 seasons, beginning with his company debut, as Carlo Gerard in Andrea Chenier, in 1957. Sereni enjoyed a long and steady career at the Metropolitan Opera. In twenty-seven seasons, he sang most of the important baritone roles of the Italian repertory in opera such as Ernani, Luisa Miller, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Un Ballo in Maschera, La Forza del Destino, Don Carlo, and Aida. He also sang in La Gioconda, Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, Manon Lescaut, La Boheme, and Madama Butterfly, as well as L'Elisir d'Amore and Lucia di Lammermoor. In 1964, Sereni was a memorable Ford in the first performances of Franco Zeffirelli’s beloved Met staging of Falstaff, conducted by Leonard Bernstein. He also appeared in the 1972 Met gala saluting Rudolf Bing. Sereni made his last appearance with the Met in 1984, as Schaunard in La Boheme.
Sereni was also a regular guest at the opera houses of Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas. He also enjoyed a successful international career appearing frequently at the Vienna State Opera, La Scala in Milan and the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires.
Despite his success, Sereni always remained in the shadow of the more charismatic baritones of his time, principally Leonard Warren, Robert Merrill, Ettore Bastianini, Rolando Panerai and Piero Cappuccilli, yet Sereni’s many recordings reveal a singer and musician of considerable distinction, with a handsome voice, a solid technique, and a fine sense of style.”
- OPERA NEWS, 1 Aug., 2015