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Opera Now, August 2000

"[This release] preserves a Met broadcast of 29 December 1945 when Jussi Bjorling sang the Duke of Mantua, the Brazilian soprano Bidu Sayao appeared as Gilda and the outstanding American baritone Leonard Warrne offered his Rigoletto. The sound is, of course, not comparable to a modern studio recording, and while Cesare Sodero's conducting has a sense of style, the choral and orchestral contributions are often rough at the edges. But it's the central performances that are important, and they are all marvellous. Warren's Rigoletto is a larger -than- life vocal creation, grand both in conception and delivery: it simply leaps from the speakers. Sayao's Gilda carries a strong sense of engagement which she combines with a refined attention to line. Her tone is lively in quality and carries a strong emotional charge all by itself. Bjorling's Duke finds him in wonderful voice, with a constant liquidity and brilliance to his tone: he is also alert to the text, the character and the situations (he cuts 'Possente armor', incidentally, which is not uncommon). Taken as a whole, this is a remarkable document."

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