OP3380. ADRIANA LECOUVREUR (Cilea), Live Performance, 28 November, 1959, Napoli (Opening Night), w.Mario Rossi Cond. Teatro San Carlo Ensemble; Magda Olivero, Giulietta Simionato, Franco Corelli, Ettore Bastianini, etc. (Italy) 2-Melodram CDM 27009. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 761193400922
"One of the cornerstones of any Magda Olivero collection is a November 28, 1959 ADRIANA LECOUVREUR broadcast from the stage of the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. The scheduled Adriana, Renata Tebaldi, became ill. Olivero, who was herself recuperating from surgery, stepped in at the very last moment to save the performance. And it is the performance of a lifetime. A mesmerizing account of Adriana’s entrance aria, ‘Io son l’umile ancella’, inspires a prolonged, ecstatic outburst from the Naples audience. And from there Olivero moves from strength to strength, providing a master class in the art of verismo opera performance. Even if the remaining principals were only acceptable, this 1959 Naples ADRIANA LECOUVREUR would be essential listening. But on this occasion, Olivero was joined by three of the greatest performers of the era, all at the height of their powers. Mezzo Giulietta Simionato is a force of nature as Adriana’s rival, the Princess Bouillon. Adriana’s lover, Maurizio, is Franco Corelli in prime voice, which is to say one of the most sumptuous and brilliant tenors documented on recordings. In addition to his bronze vocal quality and ringing high notes, Corelli’s remarkable breath control allowed him to create magical effects with extended crescendos and diminuendos, both in evidence here. And while Corelli was not in Olivero’s league as an actor (few were), he throws himself wholeheartedly into the role of Maurizio. Michonnet, the stage manager who secretly pines for Adriana, is more of a character baritone role than a heroic one. Ettore Bastianini was famous for his assumptions of the latter type of part, but he brings admirable sensitivity to the role, along with his characteristic rich, dark, and vibrant tone. Mario Rossi, a first-rate conductor of Italian operatic repertoire, leads a performance that both crackles with energy and savors Cilea’s rich orchestral palette."
- Ken Meltzer, FANFARE, March / April, 2019