Verdi: La Forza Del Destino / Mitropoulos, Di Stefano, Simionato, Et Al
Giuseppe di Stefano's voice is at its most free and beautiful and Mitropoulos keeps his bad habits under control, eliciting from him one of his finest performances on disc. He offers a true pianissimo A-flat on "seno" in his big aria, sensitive phrasing throughout, and ardor that is unmatchable, without bluster or exaggeration. Antonietta Stella also is at her best. As good as she always was, you'd find yourself wishing Callas, Gencer, or Tebaldi had been in her stead, but she's memorable here. Despite a few top notes that spread, her singing is first rate, with a hushed duet with Guardiano and excitement elsewhere. But truth to tell, I wish she were someone else.
Ettore Bastianini, with a baritone voice as gorgeous as di Stefano's tenor, is ravishing once past the Inn Scene, which he sleeps through. His duets with the tenor are riveting and his legato is ravishing (it's a pity that their second duet, "Sleale", is cut). "Urna fatale" brings down the house. The feared Preziosilla/military scenes are enlivened and made tolerable by the wonderful Giulietta Simionato and Mitropoulos' lively beat.
The non-Italians are more problematic: the Guardiano of Walter Kreppel is not interesting and he wanders from pitch; Ludwig Welter's Marchese is killed just in time; Karl Dönch's Melitone is bland. But the performance is dramatically ravishing, and by the time the final trio comes around, we are in the presence of absolute greatness; I've never heard it so beautifully sung, played, and led. Highly recommended.
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Catalog Number: ORF-C681062
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor: Dimitri Mitropoulos
Orchestra/Ensemble: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna State Opera Chorus, Vienna State Opera Orchestra
Performer: Anne-Marie Ludwig, Antonietta Stella, Ettore Bastianini, Franz Bierbach, Giulietta Simionato, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Harald Pröglhöf, Hugo Meyer-Welfing, Karl Dönch, Ludwig Welter, Walter Kreppel