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VERDI: Ballo in Maschera (Un) (Callas, Di Stefano, Gobbi) (1956)

Composer(s):Verdi, Giuseppe
Period(s) Romantic
Genre Classical Music
Category Opera
Catalogue 8.111278-79
Label Naxos Historical
Quality   320kbps

This 1956 recording of Un ballo in maschera was made before Maria Callas undertook it on stage. Of her performances of Un ballo at the beginning of the 1957/8 season at La Scala, Milan, the conductor Gianandrea Gavazzeni remembers ‘[how] she had this strange, burning, singular talent; she was always herself and yet always different in every rôle. A voice of more even quality could not have imparted the tension, or Amelia’s desperation so effectively. Had she sought less wide a range, fewer colours then perhaps she might have achieved a more homogeneous sound, but she preferred richness of colour and play of lightness and shade in recreating the character.’ Throughout the rôle Callas chooses an appropriate plangent vocal colour to characterize



Review By Penguin Guide,January 2009

Votto’s 1956 mono recording, with voices set close but with a fair amount of space round them, is among the best of the sets with Callas from La Scala, and the CD focuses its qualities the more sharply. Cast from strength, with all the principals—notably Gobbi and Giuseppe di Stefano—on top form, this is indispensable for Callas’s admirers.

However, Mark Obert-Thorn’s transfer for Naxos immaculately preserves the recording with plenty of bloom on the voices, and there seems no reason to prefer the EMI set which is still at full price, especially when the Naxos documentation is excellent.

Review By David Denton, Naxos,January 2008

Though Maria Callas never placed Un ballo in maschera in her repertoire - her only stage appearances in the opera being at La Scala towards the end of 1957 - it was an score which ideally suited her voice. Columbia took her into the recording studio in September 1956 with a cast that was as good as any that has ever been assembled. Giuseppe Di Stefano’s voice was in superb shape, the lyric passages flowing effortlessly, while those high lying moments rang out with total security. His characterisation of Riccardo was perfectly paced from the playboy atmosphere of the opening through to the final fatal drama. The opening of the second act with Callas was electrifying, while he avoids over acting in his final death scene. Tito Gobbi made an eager Renato, the whole of the



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