V1368. GIANGIACOMO GUELFI, w.Serafin, Previtali, Bartoletti, Gavazzeni, Capuana, Basile, Santini, Sanzogno & Mitropoulos Cond.: Arias from Guglielmo Tell, La Gioconda, Andrea Chénier, Tosca, La Fanciulla del West, Otello, Macbeth, Nabucco & I Due Foscari; Duets (w.Elena Suliotis, Anita Cerquetti, Franco Corelli, Mario Filippeschi & Boris Christoff) from Aïda, Forza, I Vespri Siciliani, Luisa Miller & Attila. (E.U.) Myto 00156. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 8014399501569
“Guelfi (1924-2012) was an under-recorded phenomenon, a baritone somewhat overshadowed by Ettore Bastianini until the latter’s premature death in 1967. He had a huge voice but was capable of singing with surprising delicacy, as you may hear from his beautiful half-voiced singing - properly done, without constricting his throat - in the excerpt from LUISA MILLER.
He is partnered here with some of the starriest names in the operatic firmament of the ‘50s and ‘60s in some juicy excerpts showcasing the volume and security of his baritone. The size of his voice meant that he would never be accused of undue subtlety; in that regard he is the baritone equivalent of Mario Del Monaco, who thrilled audiences but attracted the disdain of some critics with his heft, amplitude and resonance. He does little in the way of differentiation between the characters he portrays - one can sound disconcertingly like another, but the sound is still glorious. This was still an age of huge voices, as we can hear from the contributions of Filippeschi, Corelli and Cerquetti - and even though the precocious Suliotis tamps down her naturally big soprano to suggest Luisa’s vulnerability, you can hear that hers is fundamentally a large voice being temporarily tamed. Filippeschi is thrilling, ending on a ringing B flat rising to a top D.
The best sound here comes with Corelli, when they sing the famous confrontational duet from LA FORZA DEL DESTINO, as that is the only studio recording here, part of excerpts from the opera made for Cetra in 1956. This account of the duet was made before Corelli’s stage debut in the role of Alvaro with Bastianini in 1958 and rivals that which we hear in the complete live recording of that Naples performance.
One oddity and a moment from history is preserved in the AIDA excerpts from another live Naples performance in 1954. Guelfi and Cerquetti are enthusiastically applauded after the duet, where Guelfi massively prolongs the phrase on ‘Dei Faraoni tu sei la schiava!’ and it is apparent that the audience wants them to encore the entire scene, but the conductor Gabriele Santini refuses, resulting in the cheering turning to booing.
Obviously the bulk of the music here is from Guelfi’s forte, Verdi, but the arias from four other composer’s operas demonstrate his breadth and versatility. They are equally satisfying; Guelfi was born to sing villainous or conflicted characters like Barnaba, Gérard, Scarpia and Rance and is never afraid to underline their villainy by deploying his bronze voice to the maximum - and clearly his audiences loved it. Perhaps you will, too - I do.”
- Ralph Moore, MusicWebInternational