Lamberto Gardelli, born on Nov. 8, 1915, in Venice, Italy, is one of the great Italian conductors in all of history. He dominated the repertoire of his native country, taking on the major repertory staples, and also placing a spotlight on the lesser-known operas.
Among the composers that he championed in this respect was Giuseppe Verdi and it is thanks to him that we even have recordings of some of the composer’s lesser-known operas with superstar casts. Here is a look at some of his most famous recordings of these Verdi rarities.
For many, this is Verdi’s weakest work and it almost never gets a look on stage. Gardelli pairs Francisco Araiza with Ileana Cortubas and Renata Bruson for a recording that does some good to a much-maligned work.
The opera has gained some ground in recent years with a slew of major basses such as Ferruccio Furlanetto and Ildar Abdrazakov, but it wasn’t quite that popular back when Gardelli led Ruggero Raimondi, Carlo Bergonzi, Sherrill Milnes and Cristina Deutekom in the recording for Philips.
Here’s a rare Verdi opera. It isn’t among the Verdi operas that most would listen to despite having some lush and memorable melodies, but it is unique in that it includes two lead soprano roles, a rarity for the composer. In this recording, still the best for the opera, Gardelli assembled a trio of singers that included José Carreras, Montserrat Caballé, and Jessye Norman.
I Due Foscari
Another opera that has seen its fortunes rise mainly thanks to Plácido Domingo championing the opera, this was another work that languished in obscurity when it was recorded by the maestro. His cast included Katia Ricciarelli, Carreras, Pietro Cappuccilli, and Samuel Ramey.
Verdi’s fourth opera has gotten more popular in recent years, but it still doesn’t hold the same place in the international repertoire as other early Verdi operas such as “Nabucco” or “Macbeth.” In his recording of the work, the conductor included Domingo, Cristina Deutekom, and Ruggero Raimondi in lead roles.
Another Verdi work that rarely gets many performances, Gardelli’s recording includes the likes of Caballé, Bergonzi, Cappuccilli, and Raimondi.
La Battaglia di Legnano
This opera actually comes around the time that the composer put together some of his great masterworks, but it doesn’t quite live up to those expectations on its own. But with Gardelli we get to see Carreras, Matteo Manguerra, and Ricciarelli engage, as they often did, in glorious singing.
In his recording of this tenor showcase, Gardelli brought together Sylvia Sass and Carreras to lead the way. The opera still remains somewhat of a curiosity with major tenors such as Domingo, Carreras, and more recently, José Cura, showcasing it prominently. But it has never quite gotten much more interest otherwise.
Un Giorno di Regno
Verdi’s second opera and first of two comedies is often looked upon as one of his weakest works. The opera’s music is quite a mix of differing styles, the composer still without a true musical identity and the drama itself neutered by a poor libretto. But Gardelli was not one to judge and he found treasure in the opera and put together a top-notch cast to join him in this exploration. The singers include Norman, Fiorenza Cossotto, Carreras and Ingvar Wixell.
Which is your favorite?