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Alla Breve

March 06, 1994|WALTER PRICE

GIUSEPPE DE LUCA: Arias, duets and ensembles. Giuseppe de Luca, baritone; various other singers, orchestras and conductors. Pearl GEMM CD 9967. These recordings, from 1906 to 1930, show a slender, focused, essentially lyric baritone used with impeccable taste and skill to forge a long career. Essentially, not much changes in the sound. Malatesta in "Pasquale" would seem to be an ideal part, sung as it is here in a duet with Lucrezia Bori. Yet De Luca could summon power and a variety of dramatic accents and be equally impressive in such heavier challenges as Rigoletto, Amonasro (the Nile Scene duet with Elisabeth Rethberg--most baritones would kill for the grandeur and breath control he exhibits in the "Pensa che un popolo" section) and Carlo in "Ernani" (the Tomb Scene). He never lost the suavity of tone, as he shows in the "Pearl Fishers" duet with Beniamino Gigli, made when he was 54 years old. The engineers have chosen to retain the original surface noise rather than compromise the often impressive voice fidelity of the originals.

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