Cavalleria Rusticana  (Mascagni;  Lina Bruna Rasa, Beniamino Gigli, Giulietta Simionato, Gino Bechi)  (2-Naxos 8.110714/15)
Item# OP3423
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Cavalleria Rusticana  (Mascagni;  Lina Bruna Rasa, Beniamino Gigli, Giulietta Simionato, Gino Bechi)  (2-Naxos 8.110714/15)
OP3423. CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA, recorded 1940 (preceded by Introductory Speech by the Composer), w.Mascagni Cond. La Scala Ensemble; Lina Bruna Rasa, Beniamino Gigli, Giulietta Simionato, Gino Bechi, etc.; Pietro Mascagni Cond.: Orchestral Excerpts from Barbiere (Rossini), I Vespri Siciliani (Verdi), L’Amico Fritz, Guglielmo Ratcliff, Iris, Le Maschere & I Rantzau (all Cond. by the Composer). (Canada) 2-Naxos 8.110714/15. Transfers by Ward Marston. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 636943171424


“It would seem whimsical to wish for a recording of a 19th century operatic repertory standard conducted by its composer, yet that’s exactly what we have here. Pietro Mascagni’s long life (1863-1945) enabled him to lead this performance before the microphones of La Voce del Padrone (His Master’s Voice) in 1940. As Mascagni says in his opening speech, included on this release, this recording ‘will…provide a far better image of me than any signed portrait’. And what an image he creates, aided by some of the finest voices of the day! Beniamino Gigli (Turiddu) produces powerfully bright, ringing, robust tones throughout (especially in his smilingly cocky rendition of ‘O Lola’). Of course, he pours on the schmaltz in the final scene, but this is what we’ve come to expect from this great singer.

Lina Bruna Rasa (Santuzza) nearly steals the show with her red-hot ‘Voi la sapete’, where she perfectly melds passion with artistry. Gino Bechi’s commanding voice evokes a proud, dangerous Alfio - you wouldn’t want to mess with his woman! Lola’s self-centered nature is convincingly portrayed by Maria Marcucci, and Giulietta Simionato’s Lucia glows with motherly affection. Mascagni (himself a professional conductor) leads a straightforwardly dramatic account of his score. Ward Marston’s transfer of the 1940 HMV original is impressively clear and dynamically true. Disc 2 includes a bonus treat for historical buffs: eight tracks of Mascagni conducting the Orchestra of the State Opera House, Berlin in selections from his other operas along with overtures by Verdi and Rossini.”

- Victor Carr Jr,