Review By Pedro Coco Jiménez,Ritmo,December 2010
En 2011 celebraremos los cien años del nacimiento de Gian Carlo Menotti, y el sello Naxos se ha adelantado en lo que parece será un homenaje en toda regla. Se pretenden rescatar del olvido sus títulos más significativos, comenzando por su primer gran éxito, el drama The Consul, en la grabación que el reparto original del estreno hizo poco después de éste. Es la primera vez que aparece en CD y como bien dice Obert-Thorn, el sonido dista de ser excelente si lo comparamos con la grabación del otro título, Amelia al Ballo. Entre los protagonistas, destaca el siempre espléndido Cornell MacNeil como John Sorel o la implacable secretaria de la mezzosoprano Gloria Lane.
Review By Göran Forsling ,MusicWeb International,November 2010
Next year (2011) is the centenary of Gian Carlo Menotti’s birth and he will certainly be duly celebrated. This double-bill opera set is the first in a series devoted to his music. During his life time he was not always hailed, at least not by critics, who found him out of phase with existing musical tastes. Menotti basically belonged to the late-romantic school and could be seen as a follower of Puccini in the Italian opera tradition. He became rather popular with the general public and was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize, for The Consul in 1950 and The Saint of Blecker Street in 1955. His Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors (1951) was the first opera written directly for the TV medium and it was—and has remained—hugely successful and
The Consul, after a try-out in Philadelphia, ran for 269 performances on Broadway and the response from audiences and critics alike encouraged American Decca to record it with the original cast. Amazingly enough it has never been reissued on CD. The more grateful we have to be that Naxos are now giving it a new lease of life.
Considering its age—it was recorded 60 years ago!—it is an impressive recording with shattering dynamics and it’s very vivid and easy to approach. The action is brought forward in melodious parlando, punctuated by a very active orchestra, sung and spoken lines are sometimes mixed and there are sweeping melodies galore, but also rather harsh harmonies. This stands in sharp contrast to what was normally played on Broadway at the time. But I believe that even those not normally used to opera must have felt the dramatic coherence and the expressivity of the music. It’s the cold war that forms the backdrop, which also may be a reason that it attracted attention. Communism was the red rag to many and Joseph McCarthy had already started his witch-hunt. With all this in mind it is easy to imagine the impact this opera made. Even today it has a realism that is frightening.
Lehman Engel was one of the leading Broadway conductors at the time and his recorded legacy covers many of the most famous musicals in as complete versions as was then possible. Especially famous is his recording of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (1951), which for more than 25 years was the only one available—even though it wasn’t absolutely complete. His conducting here is both exacting and punchy and though inevitably the orchestral sound is compressed in the mono recording it is an exciting reading.
He has a fine cast, who were well inside their roles. The try-out in Philadelphia opened on 1 March 1950, the Broadway premiere was a month later; the recording was made in April, probably during a number of sessions in daytime with performances in the evening. Menotti’s wish was to have Maria Callas, then relatively unknown, as Magda Sorel but the producer said no. With hindsight it would have been very interesting indeed if Menotti’s proposal hadn’t been rejected but Patri