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John Steane
Gramophone, January 2002

"In the 'historic' field proper, one of the best evenings of the year was provided by the first issue on CD of the 1931 (and first ever) recording of La Gioconda. Lorenzo Molajoli conducts a genuine performance, lively, cohesive and sung by a cast with relish in their voices. Crictics' Choice."



William Ashbrook
Opera Quarterly, January 2002

"This is the complete Gioconda from 1931, recorded by Italian Columbia, but never issued in the United States during the 78 rpm era. Here it is, vividly remastered by Ward Marson, with bonus tracks consisting of eight arias and two duets featuring the soprano Giannina Arangi-Lombardi, whom Max de Schauensee always referred to as 'The Ponselle of Italy... This wonderfully Marston-ized Gioconda is a most welcome addition to the catalog and, in some ways, a performance superior to that of any later complete version. Arangi-Lombardi was a true soprano, technically proficient, and a classically cool rather than a verismo type of singer, but there is plenty of deep feeling in her projection of the demanding title role. The Scala chorus and orchestra are very much on their home turf with Gioconda, and they participate with enthusiasm and conviction. The true hero of this performance is Molajoli, whose leadership is nonpareil. I don't think I ever heard a more stirring Dance of the Hours than the version in this set... As you may already have guessed, I enthusiastically recommend this set to anyone who loves good singing."



Lee Milazzo
American Record Guide, August 2001

"Why should anyone buy a Gioconda recorded in 1931 with a largely forgotten soprano, a barely known tenor, and an unknown baritone? Because it is a real performance: dynamic, dramatic, and above all, authentic.

Arangi-Lombardi was one of the major sopranos of the 1920s and 1930s, a mainstay at La Scala and frequent guest elsewhere. Her big, dark voice, perfect for Gioconda...Italian Columbia got enough of her exciting sound to make this set a valuable version of the opera even today. Branda had a bright penetrating tenor a somewhat rapid vibrato, and he, too, was a regular at La Scala. Many collectors will be most surprised, though, by Gaetano Viviani's bold, black baritone, which makes for a terrific Barnaba. Ebe Stignani is the best know member of the cast, of course, and her Laura is outstanding. The mysterious Lorenzo Molajoli conducts the La Scala forces so expertly that you'd almost swear it was (fill in your own black) employing a nom du disque. A most welcome bonus of Arangi-Lombardi singing arias from Norma, I Lombardi, Ernani, and Forza should whet the appetite of any dedicated collector."



Patrick O'Connor
International Record Review, April 2001

"La Gioconda has everything, a melodramatic gripping story, great setting-Venice-and six meaty parts for great singing-actors. ...For a really successful Gioconda, though, you need all the other parts to be on an equal level. Here the Naxos set is...evenly cast. ...the Naxos set is something unique and has been remastered for CD quite beautifully. Prima donna fanciers who have never heard Arangi-Lombardi are in for quite a treat."



David Patrick Stearns
The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 2001

"No matter how it's transferred from 78s, this compelling 1931 La Scala recording has Giannina Arangi-Lombardi and Ebe Stignani singing with an ear-lashing amplitude beyond anything those early microphones could capture. In Marston's hands, the recording is more exciting than fatiguing, thanks to a touch of reverberation and a nicely integrated sound picture."






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5:32:27 PM, 26 October 2014
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