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ClassicsOnline Home » DONIZETTI, G.: Anna Bolena (Callas)
The version of Anna Bolena
Firstly, I think it's important to mention that this is not the complete score. I'm not sufficiently familiar with the opera to know exactly where the cuts have been made, but certainly the overture is missing, and this performance is noticeably shorter than the Sills/LSO/Rudel one. But Sills just doesn't do it for me... I agree that Callas can be an acquired taste, but she has a remarkable presence, and she can always hold my attention. The sound quality of this recording isn't fantastic, particularly during the purely orchestral parts, but the singers come off better, and once Callas started I forgot there was such a thing as 'sound quality'. She has a way of drawing you into the music, and she sounds emotionally involved with her character.
It isn't just a Callas show, either: Giulietta Simionato makes a lovely Giovanna - her first entrance is superb - and Nicola Rossi-Lemeni sounds great. His voice reminds me a bit of Giuseppe Di Stefano (one of my favourite tenors, who is often in operas with Callas - they really suit each other).
I don't find it easy to single out favourite parts of this opera, it's just an entirely satisfying and enjoyable experience. Personally I prefer Donizetti's dramas to his comedies, mainly because they provide that satisfied feeling. Incidentally, the problem of the absent overture can be solved by downloading it separately from another version... but probably a lot of people will want an uncut version anyway. However, even if you think you only want one version, don't skip this Callas one: it's fantastic, and doesn't leave you with the feeling that there is anything lacking.more....
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DONIZETTI, G.: Anna Bolena (Callas)