Verdi Il Trovatore
The reason for welcoming this Trovatore back to the catalogue is the presence of Elena Obraztsova's Azucena. The sheer concentration she brings to the character's complexity through every densely focused register of her voice is rare indeed: in shading and grading every line is archetypal Verdian style, she creates a vividly potent scena in her every aria. A similar physical immediacy has now been brought to the orchestral playing in the digital remastering (though not to the artificially recessed, somewhat heavy-weight chorus). The ''tromba guerriera'', the fluttery, nocturnal batwing strings, the hard, bright edge to the tuttis—all are palpably present.
The let-down comes in Karajan's pacing of the drama, and in the casting of this Leonora; and one is not, of course, without its effect on the other. All the remastering in the world cannot provide momentum where the baton holds back: Karajan is too ready to support, even indulge the voice at its most luxuriant, too reluctant to give long-term impetus to the opera's swift, inexorable chain of events.
Leontyne Price, above all, suffers from this emphasis. The very tinta of her voice is made for rising out of th eopera's shadows, for the nobility of the role, for the sense of romantic fatalism which controls the character. But the long, high lines of radiant lyricism, and the propulsive palpitation of heart in cabaletta elude her. She is strangely twin ned, with the rough-hewn Manrico of Bonisolli, though there is much to enjoy in the raw physicality of his performance, its tough insistence and sense of torment.
Cappuccilli's is a concert performance di Luna: everywhere beautifully sung, but lacking the final edge of conviction. One never feels that love really inflames the heart of this aristocrat: it merely warms his toes. There is more dramatic presence in the brief appearances of Raimondi's Ferrando, a masked, grey voice of sadness until roused, Hamlet-like, to action. A still frustrating Trovatore, then, fitful in its dramatic conviction, shot through with blazingly memorable moments, but lacking strongly developed ensemble and sustained vigour of direction.'