Tito Gobbi - Opera Arias & Songs
The masterpiece in this fine recital is Rigoletto's ''Pari siamo'', a performance probably unequalled on records, even by Gobbi himself in the 1955 complete set (EMI, 2/87). From the same session came the ''Di Provenza'' from La traviata, which in its way also has a touch of genius about it, for the aria has surely never come more as a plea, a compassionate, consoling appeal from father to son. Its way may not entirely be Verdi's, and certainly is not that of the central Italian school as represented, say, by Giuseppe de Luca. Memorable, vivid and moving nevertheless. Fine, too, are the three early records unissued as 78s in Britain. The young Gobbi makes a genuinely attractive Don Giovanni (rare), one whose serenade has some plausibility in it. The voice then had a luscious quality, never completely lost but gradually subsumed. We hear it too in the Don Carlo excerpt, which in 1942 had little of the depth and subtlety we came to know some 15 years later. Jack Rance's solo in La fanciulla del West, however, has the mature Gobbi already present, evidence also that he was even then applying the principle he enunciated later of working within the bad man rather than accepting the label tied round his neck saying 'Villain'.
The songs, at best delightful, are more of a mixed bunch. Santa Lucia is heard in a deplorable arrangement, taken at a sluggish tempo and sung with careless intonation. La montanara seems to be a remarkably dull song, and if something from the film The Glass Mountain was wanted, I'd personally have preferred the item in English that discloses the melancholy consequences which would ensue ''if you should go away''. Occhi di fata, on the other hand, is a gem, both as song and performance. Transfers are excellent, notes quite useful, programme not too much overlapping with EMI (CD) CDM7 63109-2 (10/89), probably worth a thought at the same time.'