Sunday, October 23, 2011

Beniamino Gigli - Opera Arias Box Set (EMI - 3C 153-03480-486)

There are some sets which tend to be excessively crucial to some people. This and two more other entries will be about a such set (Actually three sets). This so called set was released by EMI Italiana and they encapture the memorial moments from the career of Beniamino Gigli. Even though these sets are quite substantial in the volume of material they contain, it is interesting that on Internet, you cannot find a single document or information concerning these releases. The overall set consists of three boxes which are named "Opera Arias", "Popular Songs" and "Unreleased Material". In total 30 records. As I said before, this is a huge set and it took me some time to find each of the set.

The first volume is easy to comprehend based on it's name. This volume was created after HMV was bought by EMI. Before that, both companies used to release only the material they had the rights to and did not combine their archives. The magic trick happened after the merger and through extensible efforts of EMI Italiana with the results coming in by 1978. It is not an easy task to extract material from 78 rpm records since the speeds were varying a lot due to the limited technology. I have also seen similar comments on one of Enrico Caruso's records which date even earlier than Gigli. Gigli's recordings start from 1918 in Italy.

This set holds 7 records with arias from many of the famous operas. You get to witness Gigli's performances from Tosca, La Boheme, Aida, Don Giovanni, Manon (Massenet's version), Manon Lescaut (Puccini's version), Pagliacci, and many others. Some of his better performances can be heard in Nessun Dorma from Turandot, Chiedi Al Rio from L'Elisir D'Amore, but his best performance is by far at Leoncavallo's Pagliacci opera. The aria's name is No, Pagliaccio non son. I've also listened to several other versions of this opera including the performances of Caruso, Björling and Domingo. Fairness to all of them, yet Gigli's performance by far outstrips them. It is truly crippling while you are listening to it. I have earlier said that listening to opera at home is a wierd feeling to begin with, but after listening this set, I am to change my mind effectively. A great performance can always attract the listener and leave your jaws open wide wherever you listen to it.

This is a set which all opera lovers should own and listen when they want to hear someone who is absolutely a legend with all his worth. Unfortunately he is not a Justin Bieber to get that much fame, but at least we should try to listen as much as possible to create an environment where they can outlive themselves. Life is not fair, that is true, yet we have chances to trick it to the way we want it to be. It may not be drastic, while a change is a change nonetheless.

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