Maria Guleghina and Salvatore Licitra were always great friends and onstage partners. They also celebrated birthdays one year apart. With Guleghina born on August 9 and Licitra on August 10, it is no surprise that we continue to find links between these two great artists and that in some ways, their legacy is joined.
Of course, the two had incredible successes apart from one another, but there is no doubt that some of their finest moments came sharing the same stage. Fortunately, that history has been preserved in a number of fine performances. Here is a look at the most important collaborations between the two and how you can watch them.
Un Ballo in Maschera
The Dante Ferretti production is splendid to gaze upon in all its classic beauty. But Guleghina and Licitra are the true heroes of the night, the duo working vocal magic during the famed duet, one of Verdi’s greatest love duets. Licitra really shines here, his bright timbre and polished phrasing magical, particularly in the final aria. The use of closeups serve as a solid reminder of just how good the two are in immersing themselves dramatically into their characters. The video is available through Medici.tv with Riccardo Muti conducting here.
Perhaps their very best collaboration together, the two singers are in peak vocal and dramatic form with Leo Nucci as the villainous Scarpia, Muti as his usual brilliant self, and a production that really brings it all to life. Guleghina’s always impressive acting chops get the limelight throughout the second act while Licitra sings gloriously, particularly in the mournful “E luce van le stelle.” This also got a release on CD.
The final collaboration between the duo released right before the tenor’s untimely death, this Arena di Verona performance from 2010 is quite great for both artists. Guleghina has three “Turandot” DVD releases, but she is in far stronger vocal form here and her chemistry with Licitra is also far more palpable than her Met performance. Licitra, who at that time was not always the most vocally consistent of artists, shows off his best vocal qualities as Calaf. He also gets to repeat the famed “Nessun Dorma.”