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If you didn’t catch this release first time around in 1980 then rush to buy it now. I’m always amazed by the amount of autograph material that seems to be lying around undiscovered in opera house archives, but thanks to some assiduous research even a composer as exhaustively recorded as Verdi still produces some surprises. Bookmarked by a prelude to Simon Boccanegra and an overture to Aida (both interesting but nothing to stop the traffic), this album consists of six alternative numbers written by Verdi for specific tenors and sung here by Pavarotti with a style that is almost already seeming the stuff of history. The tenor is challenged but certainly not defeated by some extreme vocal demands, rising to a top E-flat in an alternative aria to I due Foscari, and displaying his usual virtues of purity of line, impeccable diction and tonal clarity. The delicious aria from Les vêpres siciliennes is particularly elegantly turned, despite less than ideal French. Abbado supports with the idiomatic finesse one would expect. An essential release for any serious Verdian.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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