PERFORMER: Giorgio Lamberti, Lajos Miller, Kolos Kováts, Sylvia Sass; Hungarian State Opera Chorus & Orchestra/Lamberto Gardelli
CATALOGUE NO: 446 669-2 DDD Reissue
Ernani, first performed at La Fenice in 1844, was Verdi’s fifth opera and the one which brought him international recognition. This recording was originally issued by Hungaroton on LP in 1982 and it supplements the eight early Verdi operas recorded under Gardelli for Philips. The then white-hot soprano Sylvia Sass is the Elvira, though Sass has not maintained the international career momentum and prominence which she had over a decade ago when, with her cloudy, vibrant sound and intense stage presence, she was labelled ‘the new Callas’.
Gardelli revels in the drama and musical potency of this early Verdi opera, delivering a powerful, well-paced reading. Apart from the title-role, the strong cast is entirely Hungarian. Lamberti’s Ernani hasa rich sound and creates a strong characterisation of the driven, tragic bandit. Miller as Carlo is excellent and Kováts makes a superb Silva. This is a fine set and good value. The other mid-price set available has a slightly disappointing Carlo Bergonzi and Leontyne Price, conducted by Schippers on RCA, but if you wish to raise the Verdian temperature even higher, then go for Plácido Domingo and Mirella Freni, conducted by Muti, live from La Scala, on EMI. Elise McDougall