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CD Feature/ Staatskapelle Dresden: "Verdi - Rigoletto"

img  Tobias

Amidst the many magnificent classical live recordings dug up from the deepest and darkest corners of record studio vaults, it has almost been forgotten that there are actually equally enticing studio performances still awaiting a transfer to the digital medium. This version of “Rigoletto” is a case in point and decidedly deserves rediscovery exactly thirty years upon its inital realisation.

One of the reasons remains the music itself. In a bid for grandeur and his final breakthrough, Verdi crammed everything he had into this opera: His lyrical melodic talent, his fluent harmonic progressions, his ability to juxtapose the most diverse styles and to emphasise the tragic by never letting go of his humour. Lest one forget: Despite the “hits” and its often joyous themes, “Rigoletto”, based on a story by Victor Hugo, is a tale of regrets come to late and of loving the wrong person for all the right reasons. Already the opening horn blows on a single note, building in volume like a storm, encapsulate the misery, the drama and the energy contained in a work which initially was supposed to be published under the more obvious name of “La Maledizione” (the title, in conjunction with certain aspects of the story were later changed due to censorship intervention). Then there is the cast, led by Rolando Panerai, who puts down an initially spiteful and increasingly helpless Rigoletto and supplemented by the broken-hearted and torn-apart Gilda sung and played by Margherita Rinaldi. Their vocal exchanges, charged with a mutual love for each other and the conflicting interests of keeping his daughter and the center of his life safe from harm (Rigoletto) and of breaking free from this birdcage (Gilda) seem organic and never once lack the spontaneity associated with a live performance. Studio technology, in turn, allows for a broader palette of timbral shades and you’ll have to brace yourself for some gargantuan fortes before you put this on. On the other hand, in the absence of a shared timeline, not all of the transitions are equally fluent – a natural and almost inavoidable consequence. Vice versa, the opportunity to play other passages to perfection has been taken full advantage of and shows Verdi as a composer at the progressive forefront of his generation: Fade-Ins and Fade-Outs, ambient textures and, a wide range of dynamic and haunting voice effects are only some of the surprisingly “modern” techniques at his immediate disposal.

The combination of strong individual performances and a close team spirit, as well the confident use of studio technology to bring out the full potential of the opera are therefore the selling points of this release. Amidst the many magnificent new and old versions of “Rigoletto” which you can dig up from the deepest and darkest corners of record stores, it is certainly one of the first choices to consider.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Arts Music

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