Stiedry; Bjorling, Rigal, Merrill, Barbieri, Siepi, Hines
Original Air Date: 11/11/1950
MOD Audio
This is the production that opened the Bing regime in 1950, and re-introduces Don Carlo to New York audiences. The men are the equal or superior of just about anyone who has ever sung these roles. Barbieri was new, and if Eboli was not quite her meat as much as her Amneris, Azucena, and Quickly, she was still the Eboli of choice when the sainted Covent Garden production of 1958 made the case in London for the opera 8 years later. New York was to see more sensational Ebolis in the 1960s with Bumbry, Cossotto, and Verrett delivering masterful portrayals of the Princess. Rigal would not have seemed quite so short of desirable had she had less outstanding colleagues. Elisabetta remains a challenging role, and though never essayed by Milanov (then the queen of Verdi in New York) or Tebaldi (never did the part onstage), the part didn’t turn out to be a major success for either Steber or Rysanek, though both have their moments in the role. Caballe, Freni, Kabaiwanska and Millo all were notable exponents, but runs were very limited. Scotto is mostly very good (not too late, not too heavy, but still not quite the right voice, if still wonderful stylistically. A propos the discussion on Verdi sopranos, Leontyne Price never did the part, which is unsurprising as it does not play to her considerable Verdian strengths—but that’s another discussion. Siepi’s contribution is particularly important in that he opens and closes the Bing regime as Filippo, and it is a shame that the April 1972 performance has not been rebroadcast. Three veterans of the 1950 broadcast, Merrill, Siepi, and Amara (Celestial Voice) as well as two new Verdian stars in Caballe and Milnes.

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