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Penguin Guide, January 2009

Other great benefit from the Naxos Historical series has been to expand our knowledge of the Brazilian soprano Bidu Sayao. As a total charmer among lyric sopranos she is perfectly cast here as Adina, giving a sparkling portrayal opposite the young, golden-toned Tagliavini as Nemorino. Like all Italian tenors of his generation, he has his unstylish habits, but echoing Gigli he gives a winningly delicate account of Una furtive lagrima, as well as entering into the fun of the piece. Giuseppe Valdengo could hardly be stronger as a firm, powerful Belcore, and the veteran, Salvatore Baccaloni, in traditional buffo bass style milks every comic point as the quack, Dulcamara, with Antonicelli timing the comedy to a nicety. Clear, if limited, mono sound. As a supplement come two delightful live recordings of Sayao: Nedda’s communing with the birds in Pagliacci and the Bohème duet, O soave fanciulla, with Giuseppe di Stefano.

Robert Levine, April 2001

'This set will be of interest to fans of the lovely Bidu Sayao, always enchanting and youthful, coloring her words with glee, making us understand precisely why Nemorino is willing to go to such ends to get her to marry him. And Tagliavini fans will be glad to hear the tenor live and in such good voice-he sings with grace and charm, and gives strong emphasis when needed. His 'Una furtiva lagrima' is as show-stopping as it should be.'

Philip Anson
La Scena Musicale

"This Met Opera broadcast from Christmas Eve 1949 captures a golden age performance such as we no longer can hope to hear at the Metropolitan Opera. Star power abounds. Brazilian soprano Bidu Sayao is a chipper, saucy Adina, with a nightingale vibrato, radiating personality. Her peasant admirer Nemorino is 36-year-old Italian Ferruccio Tagliavini, one of the definitive tenor voices of the last century. His soaring "Una furtiva lagrima" is enough to make one shed tears and send one's Pavarotti recordings to the nearest Goodwill. Buffo bass Salvatore Baccaloni steals the show as the quack Dulcamara. At 49, Baccaloni was the undisputed master of funny fatso roles. He leads the conductor a merry dance as he interacts with his colleagues, singing and pattering with hurricane force-so different from the blurry rambling we often hear today. Giuseppe Valdengo was the sturdy soldier Belcore. With singing actors of this calibre, one experiences the work's tragedy as well as comedy. The mikes are rightly focused on the voices, so the chorus is blurred and the orchestra is mere wallpaper. Audience noise and prompting are audible but minimal."

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