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ALLA BREVE

December 21, 1986|ALLAN ULRICH

VERDI: "RIGOLETTO." Lucia Popp, Klara Takacs, Giacomo Aragall, Bernd Weikl, Jan-Hendrix Rootering; Munich Radio Chorus and Munich Radio Orchestra conducted by Lamberto Gardelli. Eurodisc 610115-232 (two compact discs). In an age that often prizes the composer's original intentions for this opera (see Giuseppe Sinopoli's Philips edition), it's a perverse pleasure to encounter a traditional performance where all participants feel obliged to lunge for unwritten high notes at virtually every opportunity. Only Popp's Gilda transforms the soubrette artifice into a genuinely vulnerable and heroic characterization; Weikl is an unidiomatic jester with a forced baritone that spares him the necessity for nuance. Aragall's once near-ideal Duke now must operate with thickened tone and curtailed bravado. Gardelli's practiced expertise fails to impose much personality or propulsion on the recording. Optional cuts (like the cabaletta to the Duke's aria) are opened, but the studio atmosphere lurks everywhere.

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