Otello  (Santi;  Guy Chauvet, Jeannette Pilou, Franco Bordoni)   (Malibran AMR 145)
Item# OP3220
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Otello  (Santi;  Guy Chauvet, Jeannette Pilou, Franco Bordoni)   (Malibran AMR 145)
OP3220. OTELLO (in Italian) - Excerpts, undated Live Performance, Napoli, w.Nello Santi Cond. Napoli Ensemble; Guy Chauvet, Jeannette Pilou, Franco Bordoni, etc. [Albeit that two of the superb protagonists are French, this stunning performance is actually sung in Italian. Chauvet is a wonderful Otello, remembered at the Met 1977-81, and Pilou returns us to cherished memories of her Met Opera years, 1967-83.] (France) Malibran AMR 145. [AMR titles are issued without rear tray-cards]


"French tenor Guy Chauvet was co-winner of a tenor competition in Cannes, along with Alain Vanzo, Gustave Botiaux, Tony Poncet, and Roger Gardes - a pretty impressive assemblage of talent! Chauvet made his Paris Opéra debut in 1959, starting with comprimario parts, finally advancing to lead roles. He soon established himself as an important presence, both in France and, ultimately, in many of the world's other major opera houses. He sang numerous roles in the French and Italian repertoire, and became particularly well-known for such heroic parts as Aeneas and Samson.

Guy Chauvet was without question a talented singer, and one who filled a pressing need during a time when the grand tradition of the French heroic tenor was in decline. Typical of this singer's work in general, the diction is idiomatic and crystal-clear. The sweetness of the young Chauvet's timbre is something to savor. In addition, Chauvet displays all of the other qualities that are the heart and soul of great French tenor singing - a seamless legato, a masterful application of the mixed voice, and an ideal balance between elegance and passion. And if all of these attributes inspire comparison to Chauvet's great predecessor, Georges Thill, the singing on this disc justifies such comparisons. We hear some absolutely first-rate French tenor singing. Highly recommended."

- K. M., classicalcdreview, Sept., 200

"Pilou's instrument is a true lyric soprano, slender in circumference but capable of colors both dulcet and bracing. At its quietest, the voice is delectably limpid at the full, which she employs sparingly, it is enhanced by an attrative metallic hue - full of illuminating musical and dramatic touches on her part."

- Paul Jackson, START-UP AT THE NEW MET, pp.106-107

"Jeannette Pilou began her vocal training in Egypt and continued in Italy under Carla Castellani. Her made her debut at Teatro Smeraldo di Milano as Violetta in LA TRAVIATA (1959). Her international career unfolded quickly. Her repertoire covered a wide range of lyric and dramatic soprano roles in Italian and French operas. In 1964 she interpreted Mimi in LA BOHEME at the Vienna State Opera. Appearances ensued in major European and American opera houses: London, Brussels, Milan, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Hannover, Cologne, Genoa, Budapest, Paris, Barcelona, Lisbon, Chicago, New Orleans, Houston, Philadelphia, Buenos Aires. In addition, she made acclaimed appearance at the Festival International d'Art Lyrique d'Aix-en-Provence, Internationale Maifestspiele Wiesbaden and the Arena di Verona Festival. Beginning with the role of Juliette, she sang the following roles at the Metropolitan Opera in New York over the years 1967-86: Susanna [LE NOZZE DI FIGARO], Mélisande [PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE], Nedda [PAGLIACCI], Micaela [CARMEN], Marguerite [FAUST] and Mimi [LA BOHEME]. She sang the leading role in the world premiere of Renzo Rosselini's opera LA REINE MORTE (Monte Carlo, 1973). She also interpreted Marzelline [FIDELIO], Nannetta [FALSTAFF] and the title roles in Massenet's MANON and Puccini's MANON LESCAUT. During the years 1969-1985, she participated regularly in GNO productions at Olympia Theater and the Athens Festival, performing acclaimed interpretations of Liu [TURANDOT], Susanna [LE NOZZE DI FIGARO], Cio-Cio-San [MADAMA BUTTERFLY], Donna Elvira [DON GIOVANNI], Desdemona [OTELLO] and Marguerite [FAUST]. In 1998 she interpreted the leading role in the Greek premiere of PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE at the Athens Concert Hall."

- Greek National Opera

Nello Santi, a conductor who was one of the most authoritative interpreters of Italian opera, especially the works of Giuseppe Verdi, and a podium favorite of singers and orchestra players, upheld a traditionalist approach that called for close adherence to the score and a gentle but firm insistence that singers avoid exaggerated flights of coloratura and prolonged showstopping high notes. At his best, he achieved great clarity from his musicians, conducting scores with insight and a deep understanding of voices. Orchestras under his direction rarely drowned out singers, even those with lighter voices. Mr. Santi was a favorite of audiences at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where he led close to 400 performances from 1962 to 2000, overwhelmingly of operas by Puccini and Verdi. Musicians and singers referred to him affectionately as Papa Santi and complained that New York critics underrated him. Reviews of Mr. Santi improved markedly in his later appearances at the Met, as appreciation grew for his loyalty to the old ways. Only recently, Mr. Crutchfield wrote in 1988, now that capable, secure and idiomatic conducting of the standard Italian repertory is no longer to be taken for granted, have some observers begun to be curious about what goes into it.

Mr. Santi did not limit himself to Italian composers. He once claimed that Richard Wagner was one of the cults of my life. But he reserved his greatest affection for Verdi. He could recall the most minute details of Verdi operas, citing phrases and chords that the composer often repeated with slight variations in his many works. As a traditionalist, Mr. Santi identified with Arturo Toscaninis style of conducting Italian operas, especially his approach to bel canto. Like Toscanini, he tried to strike a balance with singers, allowing them to shape phrases without taking excessive liberties. Thus, a duet from LA TRAVIATA conducted by Toscanini could last a minute less than the same duet in a performance led by later conductors who gave the soprano and tenor freer rein. Mr. Santi embraced the older, more restrained and less popular approach. He frequently bemoaned what he considered Italys diminished role in the opera world, citing a decline in music schools, especially in the provinces, and a sharp reduction in the broadcast of classical music and opera. Because Italian conductors no longer served long apprenticeships covering every aspect of opera performances, he asserted, they had become too focused on the orchestra. Conductors today do not love song and they do not understand theater, he said. Singers responded enthusiastically to Mr. Santis direction. Plcido Domingo, who recorded often with Mr. Santi and made frequent stage appearances under his direction, repeatedly praised him in interviews. Musicians hailed his virtuosity. Nello Santi could sing any Italian opera vocal role from memory while conducting, Les Dreyer, a retired violinist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, wrote in a letter to THE TIMES in 2008. And he would astound the orchestra at rehearsals by singing any instrumental passage, from memory, with a robust tenor voice.

In Mr. Santis later years, critics were finally won over by his commitment to the Italian operatic tradition. Reviewing a performance of RIGOLETTO at the Met in 1984, Mr. Crutchfield hailed Mr. Santis feeling for the pulse and pacing of the opera, writing: His is one of the last of that older generation of Italians who seem instinctively able to make an opera like this work. Grazie, maestro.

- Jonathan Kandell, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 6 Feb, 2020