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Robert J. Farr
MusicWeb International, December 2014

Gobbi was perhaps the outstanding actor singer in the post second World war generation that produced some great Verdi singers. I was privileged to see him live as Iago in Verdi’s Otello. Despite his small stature, he dominated the stage as great actors do. His acting skills were such that he appeared in no fewer than 25 films. The BBC ran hour-long programmes titled Great Characters in Opera from which this issue is taken. It concentrates on three of Gobbi’s greatest operatic assumptions, Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca, and the eponymous Gianni Schicci in the same composer’s comic opera. However, his greatest role was as Verdi’s Rigoletto of which there are generous extracts with Renato Scotto as Gilda. All are conducted by Edward (later Sir) Downes. © 2014 MusicWeb International

James A. Altena
Fanfare, May 2014

…Edward Downes conducts capably if not memorably in all three productions. The film quality is good for its time; the sound track is…also fine…for those of us born too late to have seen Gobbi on stage, this is an incredible treat; for those who were fortunate enough to see him live, this is a valuable memento. In either case, urgently recommended. © 2014 Fanfare Read complete review

Robert J Farr
MusicWeb International, February 2014

In 1965, producer Patricia Foy tempted Gobbi into the studios, surrounded him with some of the UK’s best homegrown talents and filmed the results. The results were shown in 1966 as part of Great Characters in Opera TV series. The present collection from that series was issued to mark the great singer-actor’s centenary year in 2013.

The three roles of Rigoletto, Gianni Schicchi and Scarpia were among Gobbi’s most intense interpretations. His portrayal of Scarpia…was repeated by him over nine hundred times. It is particularly famous from the filming of the act two of Zeffirelli’s Covent Garden production alongside Callas and has long been available. This collection also features the arrogant domineering Scarpia of act one…that Gobbi portrays superbly…In this act two portrayal, Marie Collier…[as] Callas…responds superbly to Scarpia’s taunts and evil “I will have you”; likewise her “quanto”.

In the comic role of Gianni Schicchi, Gobbi shows his capacity for humour…However, it is seeking and hearing Gobbi as Rigoletto that is the real highlight. He performed the role on stage more than four hundred times and it shows in his acting of the part and the nuances in his sung portrayal. This is singer-acting as it is rarely seen. © 2014 MusicWeb International Read complete review

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