This was Verdi's first try at writing an original work for the Paris Opera. The librettist, Scribe, gave Verdi a warmed-over millstone of a libretto that he'd originally written for Donizetti. The five-act structure in combination with the cliche of a text proved too cumbersome, for in spite of all the glorious music Verdi wrote to lift his work out of the depths of mediocrity, the opera never makes the "escape velocity" of "Aida", "Traviata", etc. It does, however, make several sustained flights, enjoyable even if they don't last forever.
RCA's 1973 recording also remains earthbound, due mainly to the tepid contribution of Martina Arroyo as Elena. Arroyo served as replacement for Montserrat Caballe, who, due to pregnancy, couldn't participate as planned. That's not to say her singing is objectionable. It's just that Caballe would have been more helpful in making the "sound and fury" cohere. Domingo, Milnes, Raimondi, and Levine are all powerful elements which make their presence strongly felt, but aren't sufficient to make their chain stronger than "the weak link".
Aside from the cast, the recording was originally a model of early 70's stereo sonority. It's a shame that BMG couldn't have done a better job of transferring it to CD. In its present incarnation, the sound is painfully edgy, obscuring the warmth of the voices and instruments. In spite of the botched remastering job, this is still the best recording of this opera available on the market.