WORKS: Don Carlo
PERFORMER: Samuel Ramey, Luciano Pavarotti, Paolo Coni, Daniela DessiChorus & Orchestra of La Scala, Milan/Riccardo Muti
CATALOGUE NO: CDS 7 54867 2 DDD
This live recording was put together from a series of performances at La Scala, Milan, in December 1992, at the first of which Pavarotti, as Carlo, was booed for having cracked on a couple of notes. Here, however, he sounds confident and stylish in a role he was assuming for the first time in his career. Indeed, he and Ramey (whose King Philip is beautifully sung and strongly characterised) provide, along with Muti’s authoritative conducting, the only reasons for considering these three discs.
The other principals are seriously disappointing. Daniela Dessi’s nondescript Elizabeth is unsteadily sung, and Paolo Coni makes Rodrigo a very dull dog, his phrasing wooden and his tone hard and unyielding. As Eboli, Luciana d’Intino is rather more acceptable, but hardly in the same league as her rivals on other available recordings. The smaller roles are capably handled and the orchestra of La Scala is in good form.
This is the four-act Italian version of the opera which Verdi put together in 1884, 17 years after the premiere of the original French Don Carlos. My recommendation would be EMI’s 1971 five-act version (also in Italian) conducted by Giulini, with Domingo, Caballé, Milnes and Raimondi. Charles Osborne