DONIZETTI Lucia di Lammermoor
Anyone who has a copy of the October 1979 issue will find my favourable views on this performance expressed at some length, seconding those of Andrew Porter's original critique in 1960. Callas was certainly more fallible here than in her first Lucia, but the subtleties of interpretation are much greater; she is the very epitome of Scott's gentle, yet ardently intense heroine, and the special way she inflects words and notes lifts every passage in which she is concerned out of the ordinary gamut of soprano singing. In that sense she is unique, and this is certainly one of the first offerings I would give to an innocent ear or a doubter in convincing them of Callas's greatness. The earlier part of the Mad scene provides the most convincing evidence of all. Then the pathos of ''Alfin son tua'', even more that of ''del ciel clemente'' are here incredibly eloquent, and the coloratura is finer than it was in 1953, if not always so secure at the top.
Tagliavini, after a rocky start, offers a secure, pleasing, involving Edgardo. Cappuccilli, then in his early prime, is a forceful but not insensitive Enrico, Bernard Ladysz a sound Raimondo. Serafin is a far more thoughtful, expressive Donizettian than his rivals on other sets. Of course, this isn't the truly complete Lucia; for that you must look to the Decca (CD 410 193-2DH3, 11/85), but the set does have the most complete, in another sense, Lucia, and that for me makes it the most persuasive account of the opera ever recorded. Now heard in clearer fomr than ever on CD, the recording offers good value at 142 minutes for the two discs.'