Wednesday, 29 April 2009

264. Gaetano Donizetti - Anna Bolena (1830)


Title: Anna Bolena
Performers: Maria Callas, Gianni Raimondi
Conductor: Giandrea Gavazzeni
Year: 1957
Length: 2 hours 20 minutes


I sometimes get annoyed at the album selection in this list and never more so than when it is a really bad sounding recording of a cut opera just because it is sung by the insufferable Callas.

That is what happens here, while the opera is actually pretty great, Donizetti having managed to make the plot flow perfectly throughout with some great music attached to it, the recording recommended here is pretty bad. It is not even Callas' voice which annoys me much but the fact that the opera is missing some 40 minutes and the sound quality is terrible as is natural from a radio recording from the 50s.

I have watched the opera in its uncut form and it is a really great one, so I think that this is a great disservice to a great piece of music. You'd be better served with pretty much any other big name recording, Joan Sutherland's version being one example. Do watch and get this opera if you have the chance, but give this recording a miss.

Final Grade

10/10 (the opera itself)

6/10 (Recording)


From Wikipedia:

Anna Bolena was performed infrequently during the latter half of 19th century and early 20th century, but it was revived with more frequency in the post-war years. On December 30, 1947, the opera was performed at Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, celebrating the centennial of this theatre, which opened in 1847 with Anna Bolena. The cast was Sara Scuderi as Anna Bolena, Giulietta Simionato as Jane Seymour and Cesare Siepi as Henry VIII.

Here is Callas Singing Giudici, Ad Anna! You can see the poor quality of the recording:

1 comment:

Angelo said...

I think you're too harsh with this recording, esp since you fail to consider the context of the recording, specifically that it was the accepted practice at the time to make cuts, esp to works as little-known as this. That's not condoning the cuts, but I think it's important to recognize that it was daring for Scala to hoist out this dusty work at all. Other recordings of the role have difficulty supplying an Anna who does justice to the role -- Sutherland's version for e.g. suffers from severe transpositions, etc.