Great Italian Operas

MP3 Album:

This set features two classic performances from the golden age of the Covent Garden Opera Company and a sparkling Falstaff from the Edinburgh Festival, combining masterworks of Italian opera by Puccini, Verdi and Rossini into one outstanding collection. Carefully remastered and restored, the recordings feature a stellar cast of Italian singers and conductors, including renowned soprano Renata Tebaldi, said by Toscanini to possess ‘the voice of an angel’.

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These three recordings represent some of the most popular Italian operas ever composed – works that are known and loved by opera enthusiasts around the world.

ICA Classics have assembled three celebrated live recordings from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and the Edinburgh Festival, featuring some of the greatest singers from the 1950s and 1960s – Teresa Berganza, Tito Gobbi, Renata Tebaldi, Ferruccio Tagliavini, Fernando Corena, Luigi Alva and Rolando Panerai – under the baton of two of the most illustrious conductors of their generation, Carlo Maria Giulini and Francesco Molinari-Pradelli.

The June 1955 performance of Puccini’s Tosca marked Renata Tebaldi’s first appearance with the Covent Garden Company. The roles of Cavaradossi and Scarpia were filled by two of Italy’s finest singers, Ferruccio Tagliavini (Cavaradossi) and Tito Gobbi (Scarpia), A Times review stated ‘The performance was tremendous, not only in the singing, which was up to the heroic standards of the past, but in dramatic tension’. BBC Music Magazine wrote, ‘Tebaldi proves an engaged and potent heroine’.

Giulini’s 1960 performance of Rossini’s sparkling Il barbiere di Siviglia features a stellar cast including a youthful Teresa Berganza as Rosina and Luigi Alva as the Count. (Alva had been asked by Giulini immediately after his 1955 debut at La Scala, Milan, to sing the Count in a legendary La Scala production headed by Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi.) This was his Covent Garden debut. Figaro was sung by the baritone Rolando Panerai, who had been a stalwart of La Scala since 1951, while Fernando Corena as Dr Bartolo was making his Covent Garden debut.

The rare recording of Verdi’s Falstaff (it has never been published before) was a 1955 Glyndebourne production at the Edinburgh Festival starring Fernando Corena in the title role. It also marked Giulini’s UK debut. The Times said, ‘In the final analysis, it was Mr Giulini’s direction which ensured the opera’s success’, and headlined the review by emphatically stating, ‘A wonderful production’. International Record Review wrote, ‘Among live Falstaffs, I have rarely heard this conducting equalled’.

Eye-catching packaging combined with stunningly low pricing makes this 6CD set an unmissable bargain.

Renata Tebaldi, Ferruccio Tagliavini, Tito Gobbi, David Tree, Ronald Lewis
The Covent Garden Opera Chorus and Orchestra / Francesco Molinari-Pradelli
1955- ICAC 5022 (2CD)

Rolando Panerai, Teresa Berganza, Luigi Alva, Fernando Corena, Ivo Vinco
The Covent Garden Opera Chorus and Orchestra / Carlo Maria Giulini
1960 – ICAC 5046 (2CD)

Fernando Corena, Anna Maria Rovere, Fernanda Cadoni, Oralia Dominguez, Walter Monachesi, Eugenia Ratti
Glyndebourne Opera Chorus · Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Carlo Maria Giulini
1955 – ICAC 5061 (2CD)