ermutations, permutations. Sills recorded Puritani in the studio with Nicolai Gedda about the same time (early 70s) Sutherland recorded it with Pavarotti. Legato switches the divas’ partners for us. We’ve already had Sutherland with Gedda (J/F 1993) and now we get Sills and Pavarotti, taped at a 1972 Philadelphia performance.
The latter two seldom sang and never recorded together, so fans of both should be thrilled to hear them paired. The tenor, in particularly fresh voice, is a crisp, ardent Arturo with easy, ringing top notes (though, prudently, he doesn’t dare the Ds and F of the last act). Sills could never match Sutherland’s volume, but her tone had a haunting loveliness of its own. She’s an affecting actress and she has no trouble with Elvira’s most taxing coloratura. Quilico and Plishka, who joined Sills on her commercial recording, are sturdy colleagues, and Guadagno was a seasoned conductor.
The performance was taped monaurally, probably by a recordist in the theater. (Some audience conversation is audible.) The sound is acceptable but no match for its studio counterpart. No notes or libretto. Worth hearing, certainly, and often exciting, but primarily for fans of Sills or Pavarotti.