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New on CDs: Operas From Gershwin to Verdi

ALLA BREVE

September 03, 1989|ALLAN ULRICH

VERDI: "La Forza del Destino." Leontyne Price, Shirley Verrett, Richard Tucker, Robert Merrill, Giorgio Tozzi; RCA Italiana Opera and Chorus conducted by Thomas Schippers. RCA 7971-2-RG (three compact discs). In its refurbishment for mid-price compact disc, this 1964 Rome recording offers a deluxe Met cast of the day in roles they might have been born to sing. Whatever one's stylistic judgment, merely finding a Verdi performance of such uncompromisingly full-throated ardor seems reason enough for cheering. Aficionados will prefer this recording of Price's Leonora di Vargas to her chestier, later assumption. Tucker's robust Alvaro doesn't preclude an annoyingly lachrymose approach. Merrill's virile baritone negotiates Carlo with sublime indifference to characterization, while Verrett's arresting Gypsy provides star power in scenes that need all the help they can get. Schippers achieves fiery results from a pickup orchestra noticeably lacking in suavity, especially in the strings. The remastering has diminished the heft of the original LPs.

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