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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on July 17, 2004
I was never much of an admirer of Sherrill Milnes. I found his singing to be one diminsional. He also had an odd habit of singing very slightly under pitch.
However, there is something about his performance here that simply blows past any objection I might have. It is almost palpably powerful. He doesn't emit what I find to be beautiful sounds. But there is nothing "beautiful" about this distorted character's story.
This also reminds us of why we all went nuts when the young Luciano Pavarotti burst upon the scene. He was surely something!!
I don't know how often Joan Sutherland sang Gilda in the early days of her career, but it was a rarity in her prime decades. As was often the case with Dame Joan, this recording was preceeded by a series of stage performances of the work. She always benefitted with some stage time in a role before recording it. Especially a role she hadn't sung in a while.
To that end, she sang Gilda prior to this recording at the Met, not during the regular season, as I recall, but during a summer Verdi festival, or something like that. Frankly, she blew the roof off the place. The critics went bonkers, one saying "Where has she been hiding this role? She is the perfect Gilda".
Perhaps a little more mature than the usual chirper in the role, and perhaps not as "diction-perfect" as someone else might be. But THAT VOICE!
And this recording, in my opinion, captures what everyone was so ecstatic about perfectly.
Oh yeah, and Richard Bonynge does a great job also.
This may not be the only "Rigoletto" in your collection, but it should not be the one left out.
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on July 16, 2003
The countless positive reviews say it all. This is the definitive recording of Verdi's greatest opera. The singing is golden age.
We have the greatest coloratura of all time singing Gilda. Then there's the "king of the high Cs" Pavarotti singing the Duke. And the gigantic baritone/tenor voice of the great Sherril Milnes. Milnes is a baritone with the range of a tenor. And he hits some jaw dropping high notes here...chest tone. That alone would be fab, but then Pavarotti hits a top D that is the best I've ever heard. Not to be outdone, La Stupenda throws Cs, Ds, and Es, here, there and everywhere. The most powerful and gorgeous high notes from any Gilda for sure.
One comment about some people fixating on Sutherland sounding plush and rich for the teenage Gilda. I absolutely disagree. The diva used her flute voice plenty here, sounding very girlish in "Caro nome". And what about all those 40-50 year old divas like Tebaldi, Callas, Albanese, and Scotto singing the 15 year old Madame Butterfly. They all sound older than Dame Joan here, but that's consider acceptable? I say that's double standard. Dame Joan's Gilda is ethereal in its trancendental beauty. She is THE golden age Gilda without a doubt with perfect coloratura execution and perfect trill.
I repeat that this is the absolutely best sung Rigoletto available. I have heard others, but I always come back to this one. An essential Rigoletto that every opera buff must own if he wants his collection to be complete. Terrific!
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on March 6, 2004
This recording is a classic and very beautiful. The highlights are definitely Pavarotti's vivacious duke and Milnes' Rigoletto. This is the best Duke Pavarotti ever recorded and even though he's lacking the sunny charm of di Stefano (The Duke on the legendary Callas-Recording) he sings the role incredibly well. Milnes was still great in those years, he sounded far better in Puccini and Verdi than in Belcanto. Of course he doesn't dig in as deeply as the unsurpassed Tito Gobbi (Truly the greatest Rigoletto of all time) but he definitely deserves his fame. Bravo Milnes! As for Sutherland, I think her earlier Gilda is better, by far. Here Sutherland sounds too matronly for a girl, also her middle has already this veiled, mushy sound. Still great singing but her "Caro nome" on "The Art of the Primadonna" outshines this easily. Not the best Rigoletto there is but a good one. Don't miss it AND the set with Tito Gobbi and the sublime Gilda of Maria Callas. Both are great.
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on October 2, 2010
This is a great 2 CD set of Verdi's tragic opera Rigoletto. The quality of the sound is superb. The singers are wonderful. Pavarotti is at his very best. A great purchase.
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on May 24, 2003
Dame Joan and Luciano are true giants of opera history. And I mean that they are the so fat that they fill out the entire stage and you can't see anyone else. I can't imagine Milnes carrying Sutherland away in a bag in the last scene. The bag must have been the size of a blimp. But I have to admit that her singing of Gilda's music is inpeccable and incomparable. What a voice! And that goes for Pav also. He was borned to sing the duke.
Despite their obvious unpleasant appearance, their voices are simply too beautiful to be true. Thus, I'm a big fan of their's.
Luckily, on record, you can't see them, so all you hear is lovely sound.
I don't understand all that talk about Callas here. She is a no talent. And even when she was Prima donna, she was never had a nice voice, it is ugly, to say the least. That is the truth and if it hurts some people they better get over it.
Callas does look good on stage. But to compare her Gilda to Sutherland's in these two Rigoletto performance is a joke.
Sutherland/Pav is the best Rigoletto in my book. And Rigoletto is my favorite opera.
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on July 25, 2003
But mostly I remember the young Pavarotti. The voice so sweet, the high notes so easy and full of ring. He is the definitive Duke. This is his best example of his art of the primo tenore and show future generations what a true tenor is supposed to sound like.
Not far behind is La Stupenda's gorgeous voice and her bag of coloratura tricks including a perfect trill and mind boggling high notes, up to E in alt. Her voice is always a joy to hear, and she is the greatest coloratura of the century.
Sherrill Milnes does some amazing singing as Rigoletto. His huge voice is almost Wagnerian, and a proper contrast to the sweet, innocent sound of Sutherland's Gilda. But don't underestimate La Stupenda. Her's is a soprano of great power, she had even sung Wagner on stage in her earliest days. Her contribution to the celebrated Quartet is the one of the highlights of this Rigoletto.
This is my favorite Verdi opera along with Travatore. And there is no doubt that this Rigoletto in without peers.
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on September 27, 2002
I absolutely agree with everyone praising this recording. However, it seems that only Sutherland, Pavarotti and Milnes are remembered. They ARE great, no doubt, although Sutherland in my opinion has maybe just a little bit too ripe a voice for the part of Gilda, who is a rather young girl.
I would like to give credit also to the incredible voice of the bass Martti Talvela, who sings the role of Sparafucile. He is no doubt one of the greatest bass singers of all times and matches the role of Sparafucile like it was tailored for him. It is unfortunate that there are only a fistfull of truly great bass singers in the whole world. The rest just don't have the depth in their voices and therefore maybe also the great bass singers are too often neglected.
In a nutshell: this is a truly great recording with an incredible cast! I've listened to a dozen of other recordings of Rigoletto, and in none of them comes even close to this one when it comes to performance and the emotions transmitted through their voices. However, the recording could be even greater with a little remastering of the technical quality up to today's standards.
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on June 5, 2003
Everyone is talking about Dame Joan, who is wonderful. But it is Pavarotti who is the superstar here. I have about 50 cds of the "King of Tenors" and this "Rigoletto" along with the "Daughter of the Regiment" and "Primo tenore" are Pavarotti's best recordings.
As the Duke, he has many famous tenors of the past who can challenge him. But to me and many others, it is Pavarotti who ultimately come out on top in this Rigoletto. Kraus and Gedda are fine, but it is Pavarotti who has that sweet shining voice with the brilliant top and youthful midrange. I've also heard Gigli, Bjoeling, and Caruso's recordings of the Duke's famous arias, and those too don't compare to Pavarotti. When Luciano hits a high D, it really rings. Bravo.
Dame Joan is almost as great. She has a lovely voice and takes on some amazing high notes. I heard some fan call them
high Es, I'm not so sure. I do know that when Pavarotti and Dame Joan ended their duet with "Addio", that climatic high note was just heavenly. Sounds like a D to me. It is magic how these two singers compliment each other so well. They don't try to hold one high note longer than the other as some other famous divas or divos do. They, along with Mr. Milnes make this Rigoletto the best around.
I haven't forgotten Milnes. He really has a big voice, and it shows here in this Rigoletto. His lucious baritone actually attacks a high B flat here. That's astounding for a voice of such size and deepness. I think that Milnes is the best Rigoletto of the ones I've heard. His finale with Gilda is truly moving. Along with Pavarotti and Dame Joan, he makes this the best Rigoletto to get.
Oh, yes, there's also a conductor. He's good too. As a huge fan of Rigoletto, I will say that this is one of the best conducting of Verdi's masterpiece I've heard.
Hey, what can I say? This Rigoletto is a winner. Five stars.
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on January 10, 2000
This is the best Rigoletto on records, without a doubt. The performance brings the drama and brilliance of Verdi's opera to life. Sherril Milnes, in excellent voice, brings all the dimensions of the title role with both vocal splendor and dramatic instinct. Milnes' "Cortigiani, vil razza dannata" and the final scene are particularily heartbreaking, while his duets with Gilda are very tender. Milnes' high notes are superb; in his last phrase "La Maledizione!" the baritones even interpolates a higher ending than the one done by many Rigolettos. I cannot think of a better Duke of Mantua, vocally speaking, than Luciano Pavarotti. His golden sound, command of legato singing and brilliant high notes (up to D on this recording) makes his Duke a pleasure to hear, even when the character is so despicable. Joan Sutherland does not sound as youthful as we would like, and she does not sound much involved either. But she is great voice as always, with her perfect trill, brilliant high notes (up to E flat) and accurate cadenzas. Her duets with Milnes and Pavarotti are breathtakingly beautiful. The rest of the cast is very good. Richard Bonynge conducts with energy and balance between the singers and the orchestra. This performance is one of the great opera recordings of all time and a must for any music lover's collection.
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on March 16, 2001
I guess we all have our loves and hates in opera. I have knownthis recording for many years and I feel it's a solid, well sungversion, but in the end not particularly moving or interesting. Milnesis in top form, and he tries very hard to act well the role, but helacks Gobbi's genius. The same goes for Sutherland, she is just toorobust for Gilda, you never believe she was actually raped. The old DGrecording with Fischer-Dieskau, Scotto, Bergonzi and Cossotto isaltgether far more involving. Even if DFD lacks a genuine italianatevoice, he is smart enough not to fake a Bastianini sound. In fact it'sadmirable how he makes the role his own, singing with the care forwords one would expect for a Schubert Lieder. In the gloriousfather-daughter duets one can feel that Scotto and Fischer-Dieskau arelistening to one another, Milnes and Sutherland are nowhereclose. Between Carlo Bergonzi and Luciano Pavarotti honours are moreeven, both sing splendidly. If you want spectacular high notes go forthe Bonynge, but if you want a serious,very emotianal music drama theKubelik recording has not been bettered in almost 40 years.
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