VERDI: Un ballo in maschera
DONIZETTI: L'Elisir d'amore
Here is a feast for fans of the late Luciano Pavarotti, recordings from the Metropolitan Opera when the tenor was in his prime. We have the luxury of hearing his Riccardo in Un ballo en maschera in two different performances, one from January 1991 (with Aprile Millo and Leo Nucci, James Levine conducting), the other from February 1980 (with Katia Ricciarelli and Louis Quilico, Giuseppe Patanè conducting). The 1980 version includes interviews with Pavarotti, Ricciarelli and Levine. Ernani was mentioned on this site recently (see REVIEW); now the same performance is included in this specially-priced 3-disk set. Il trovatore, from October 1988 performances, has luxurious and perfect casting with one exception: Eva Marton's sound is not right for Verdi. Her singing is uniformly loud and edgy with little technical refinement. But what a pleasure it is to hear Pavarotti's incredible Di quella pira, and once again we are reminded how fortunate the opera world was to have Sherrill Milnes in many Verdi roles.
Elixir was broadcast March 2, 1981. Nemorino is a role Pavarotti sang at the Met 49 times. His singing of Una furtiva lagrima is magnificent—doubtless he would have encored it if the Met allowed it. Judith Blegen is a brilliant Adina, a match for Pavarotti in every way. The "photo gallery" supplied consists of ten pictures of major historic performances of this opera at the Met. This is an important performance in many ways, and all of these DVDs are essential to fans of the great Luciano Pavarotti. Video is uniformly satisfying, as is the sound quality.
R.E.B. (May 2008)