I'm torn between two Verdians, feeling like a fool: Sondra Radvanovsky and Violeta Urmana were both wonderful in this afternoon's Don Carlo broadcast. It took me a moment or three to warm to Urmana's Eboli - the Veil Song was fine but didn't really interest me much - but by the time we got to 'O don fatale' I was hers. And Sondra Radvanovksy: what class! I didn't pay much attention to her Elena in Vespri (which feels like years ago) but this time around I was ready for her and she was great. A few less-than-secure passage perhaps but so appealing and so shimmeringly beautiful. Months ago Trrill's Grisi Pasta (which appears have quasi-returned, incidentally) reviewed her and suggested describing her voice as 'prismatic'. (Update: No she didn't! She said it about Victoria Litherland! Still works-ish though) I think that's exactly right, and there's really nothing I could add.
Richard Margison's Don Carlo was alright, I guess. I mean, he made a nice enough sound. But sometimes it sounded to me more like he was singing jazz standards than Verdi. Besides, I'm a pronunciation pedant (when it suits), and a singer who pronounces 'casto' as 'cawsto' loses a lot of credibility. Dwayne Croft as Rodrigo was fantastic, however, and Ferruccio Furlanetto's Filippo was an absolute triumph - to think that just last week I praising his Don Basilio! However, I simply cannot stand Samuel Ramey. Perhaps - surely - he sounds better in the house; but I just can't think of any reason why I should have to listen to him. He wobbles away so much you'd think he was Bert Lahr in The Wizard of Oz. I know he's a legend, and I know he hasn't always sounded this way (he's fine in the Solti Figaro) but the fact remains that as he is now, I don't want to hear him. Anyway, he was the only aspect of this Don Carlo which I didn't enjoy. Everyone else was either very good or absolutely fantastic- and the orchestra under Fabio Luisi definitely falls into the latter category. It staggers me to think anyone would want to leave before the end of this: I didn't even stand up, let alone leave the room, for the full 4 1/2 hours, intervals included.