(The) Sublime Voice of Carlo Bergonzi

Carlo Bergonzi receives the compilation treatment and reminds us what a superb singer he was

Author: 
John Steane

(The) Sublime Voice of Carlo Bergonzi

  • (La) Bohème, 'Bohemian Life', Che gelida manina
  • (La) Bohème, 'Bohemian Life', O soave fanciulla
  • (La) Bohème, 'Bohemian Life', ~, Mimì è tanto malata
  • (La) Bohème, 'Bohemian Life', Donde lieta uscì (Mimì's farewell), Dunque è propiro finite!
  • (La) Bohème, 'Bohemian Life', ~, In un coupé?
  • Madama Butterfly, Dovunque al mondo
  • Madama Butterfly, ~, Vogliatemi bene
  • Madama Butterfly, ~, Io so che alle sue pene
  • Madama Butterfly, ~, non v’avvicinate
  • Cavalleria rusticana, ~, Ah! lo vedi!
  • Pagliacci, 'Players', ~, Recitar!
  • Don Carlo, ~, Dio, che nell'alma infondere
  • Rigoletto, ~, Questa o quella
  • Rigoletto, ~, Ella mi fu rapita!
  • Rigoletto, ~, Bella figlia dell'amore
  • Otello, Dio! mi potevi (Monologue)
  • (Un) ballo in maschera, '(A) masked ball', ~, La rivedrà nell'estasi
  • (Un) ballo in maschera, '(A) masked ball', ~, Di' tu se fedele
  • (Un) ballo in maschera, '(A) masked ball', È scherzo od è follia
  • (Un) ballo in maschera, '(A) masked ball', ~, Teco io sto
  • (Un) ballo in maschera, '(A) masked ball', ~, Forse la soglia
  • Tosca, E lucevan le stelle
  • Manon Lescaut, Donna non vidi mai
  • Aida, ~, Se quel guerrier
  • Aida, ~, Pur ti riveggo, mia dolce Aida
  • (La) Gioconda, Cielo e mar!
  • (La) traviata, ~, Un dì, felice
  • (La) traviata, ~, Lunge da lei
  • (La) traviata, ~, Parigi, o cara
  • (Il) trovatore, ~, Deserto sulla terra
  • (Il) trovatore, ~, Ah! sì, ben mio
  • Adriana Lecouvreur, ~, La dolcissimi effigie
  • Adriana Lecouvreur, L'anima ho stanca

'Carlo Bergonzi is known as the tenor's tenor' apparently. He was also very much the critic's tenor and, as far as I can recall, he was the public's too. For a different opinion see Opera Fanatic ('Bergonzi is overrated'), spring 1986. Meanwhile, start listening.
The collection opens with one of the warmest gelide manine ever. The voice is at its freshest and most beautiful (the recording comes, with other excerpts, from the 1959 Boheme under Serafin), but impresses especially with the variety of its handling, the fertility of imagination. A year earlier, the Butterfly is similarly delightful, Bergonzi's Pinkerton being all confidence and energy, ardent in his Yankee patriotism as in his very Italian love-making. These are some of the best things, but the composer most closely associated with Bergonzi, and of whom we hear most, is not Puccini but Verdi. From the Rigoletto of 1964 (Kubelik) all of the Duke's solos find something very close to their ideal singer, the clean cut of the voice suiting their requirement for an elegance of manner. That is an immediate presence, too, in the items from Un ballo in maschera (Solti, 1962) : Bergonzi's voice at the start of the second disc enters with magical lightness and grace in the opening phrases of 'La rivedra nell' estasi'. Then, how the Karajan Aida (1959) challenges its singers with those (you'd think) impossibly slow speeds - and how nobly Bergonzi meets the challenge in his 'Celeste Aida'.
Not everything is as good as that: he unexpectedly turns his verse of 'Parigi, o cara' to mush (perhaps anticipating what Sutherland is about to do with hers), and I wouldn't for choice choose his 'Di quella pira' to take into battle. Otello's monologue (1975) is not really in his voice or sensibility. Some of the excerpts end abruptly, and sometimes the sequence is disconcerting. Transfers are generally fine, but tracks from the 1958 recital under Gavazzeni have a rough surface on the voice. This is a collection for dotting around rather than listening from start to finish, but whatever the procedure, I can't think it is going to win many recruits for the 'Bergonzi-is-overrated' lobby.'

Gramophone Subscriptions

From£67/year

Gramophone Print

Gramophone Print

no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Reviews

Gramophone Reviews

no Print Edition
no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Digital Edition

Gramophone Digital Edition

no Print Edition
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe

If you are a library, university or other organisation that would be interested in an institutional subscription to Gramophone please click here for further information.

© MA Business and Leisure Ltd. 2019