Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus and bass soloist Alexey Tikhomirov in this poignant performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13, Op. 113 (Babi Yar), recorded live in September 2018.
This acclaimed La Scala performance of "Don Giovanni" instantly took its place among the most important Mozart productions. Thomas Allen, hailed as one of the best British baritones ever, gives an engaging and seductive performance as the famous lover. Under the baton of Riccardo Muti, this La Scala production highlights all of the tragic grandeur of this masterpiece without sacrificing its lighthearted moments. Director Giorgio Strehler's staging has been lauded for its subtle psychological treatment of the characters.
Riccardo Muti conducts a fine cast in the powerful and atmospheric 1991 production of Verdi's ninth opera, whose story of the heroic tussle between Ezio, a Roman general, and Attila, the Nordic invader was written for the 1846 Teatro la Fenice season and premiered there to huge acclaim.
Maria Guleghina impresses strongly. To my mind she is Puccini’s ideal ‘tart with a heart for gold’. She has control and sensitivity and she acts everybody off the stage. She’s coy (but with just a hint of being street-wise) in Act I, outrageously flighty and avaricious in Act II, and, at last, contrite in Act IV. Just watch her as she taunts Geronte di Ravoir (a far too gentlemanly Luigi Roni) in Act II and the way she disports herself on the floor of the stage to seduce Des Grieux back to her charms.
Verdi's 1855 Paris opera which followed Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La Traviata is treated to a performance of blazing energy and intimate refinement with a superb cast which includes Cheryl Studer and Chris Merritt. The rarely-seen third act ballet is included complete, with the internationally-acclaimed dancers Carla Fracci and Wayne Eagling.
As a more consistently light-hearted version, with delightful La Scala sets and colourful costumes, the 1994 TDK Don Pasquale will also be hard to beat. Visually it is a joy, and with three outstanding principals the performance sparkles from start to finish. By not seeming too old, Ferruccio Furlanetto’s portrayal of Don Pasquale is the more convincing, but he has no chance against Nuccia Focille’s minx of a Norina and one certainly feels sorry for him at his discomfiture. Gregory Kunde is an appropriately ardent Ernesto; his voice isn’t creamy but the sings passionately and has good comic timing, and Lucio Gallo enters into the spirit of the story as a wily Dottore Malatesta.
Ever since his brilliant first appearance in Munich with the Requiem, he is still a regular guest at the BR. Riccardo Muti is currently regarded as a mature representative of the great Italian tradition. This CD release therefore has to be seen as a “classically polished gem” – a gem that shines and flashes as beautifully and as brilliantly as ever!