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ALLA BREVE

December 21, 1986|ALLAN ULRICH

DONIZETTI: "LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR." Maria Callas, Ferruccio Tagliavini, Piero Cappuccilli; Philharmonia Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Tullio Serafin. Angel CDCB-47440 (two compact discs). It will forever remain a mystery why Angel chose to reissue the second (1959) Callas "Lucia" in the CD format when the diva's earlier 1953 landmark recording was the one clearly deserving of exhumation. The latter may have been in mono sound, but the combination of Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano and Tito Gobbi elevated the opera beyond the bel-canto category into the realm of genuine tragedy. Six years later, the soprano's persistent vocal problems had multiplied to the point where wiry sound and desperate lunges above the staff compromised her peerless musical insticts. By then, too, time had eroded the pristine quality of Tagliavini's Edgardo, while, at this time, Cappuccilli's Enrico depended mostly on promise and healthy lungs. The British musicians responded indifferently to Serafin's entreaties and Angel's sound is thick and prone to hiss.

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