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Masked Ball
Verdi, Caballe, Carreras
Masked Ball
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #2

José Carreras stands out amid a rather uneven cast for an opera curiously mutilated by 19th-century Italian censors. He is Riccardo of Warwick, governor of colonial Boston, agonizing over his secret love for Amelia, the wi...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Verdi, Caballe, Carreras, Davis
Title: Masked Ball
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Polygram Records
Release Date: 8/12/1997
Genre: Classical
Style: Opera & Classical Vocal
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 028945631622

Synopsis essential recording
José Carreras stands out amid a rather uneven cast for an opera curiously mutilated by 19th-century Italian censors. He is Riccardo of Warwick, governor of colonial Boston, agonizing over his secret love for Amelia, the wife of his friend and secretary, Renato. Ingvar Wixell, the third side of the love triangle, is the weakest link vocally. Both Carreras and Plácido Domingo sing this part at a level of quality where personal taste becomes the basis of choice, but this Carreras performance stands out. And Carreras fans will find this role essential. --Joe McLellan

CD Reviews

A normal Ballo in Maschera
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This is a normal interpretation of Un Ballo in Maschera. Certainly, not bad, but not especially excellent. Why? Jose Carreras has a pretty and expressive voice, but the technic is poor, the sounds are very opened, and the high notes pitchy. Montserrat Caballe is the best of the cast, great Soprano, voice as a jewel, but for Verdi, the interpretation must have more "slancio". Ingmar Wixell, is a "routinier" baritono, the voice have a weak technical quality. Payne is a normal and a routine Ulrica, with not much passion. Colin Davis is a great Conductor. Very smooth and elegant, but for Verdi, the "tempi" must be faster and dramatic. This is the Verdi Style (read the Verdi's Letters about his operas). Really the comment of the fan from NYC, is very impolite, because call "silly" the comments alone because are differents in comparison with his point of view, this is an uncivilized behaviour. Certainly Bergonzi was one of the greatest Verdians Tenors of the century (opinion of the more important musical experts of the world). This recording is not bad, but if you want to listen a really historical "Ballo in Maschera", listen the Votto (with Callas and Di Stefano) , Abbado (with Ricciarelli and Domingo), Leinsdorf (with Price and Bergonzi) and Solti (with Bergonzi and Nilsson)recordings. To name great historical singers in this opportunity is an obligation, because are points of reference."
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Marvelous set! Even though I'm mad at Philips for its repackaging ideas (the priginal one was much nicer), Verdi's timeless masterpiece will surely win your affection. Jose Carreras really shines here: his Riccardo is the most romantic and engaging presentation I've ever heard. Every emotion is right on target, and the opening of "Forze la soglia attinse" startles with its power and intensity followed by exemplary breath control on long expansive phrases of the aria. His vocal range is beautifully displayed in "Di tu si fidele" where he easily scales from very high notes to optional lower ones in two verses. Montserrat Caballe sings with unrestrained passion and makes Amelia believable for a change, compared, for instance, to Margaret Price or Jennifer Barstow. What also helps is her clear diction, so you know what she's singing. The love duets between Riccardo and Amelia, therefore, are a real treat. The rest of the cast is somewhat less satisfying safe for Robert Lloyd's magnificent bass. Wixell sounds a little "too villainous" and thus two-dimensional, so to speak, and rather strained; the role of Renato seems much more suitable for Bruson or Cappuccilli, incomparable as they are. I always admired Sir Davis' conducting of Verdi's music. Without unnecessary fuss, he is consistent and pays great attention to detail. The tempos are so flowing, you'd want to dance. While this recording has its rivals, particularly in the Abbado's set with Domingo and Ricciarelli, it because of its uniqueness and sparkle."
For Carreras fans only
Irene Adler | Seattle, WA | 04/24/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This recording is now available in the Compact Opera Collection from Decca. As a whole, this performance was painfully mediocre, especially considering how many fine artists participated. It certainly cannot stand alongside popular classics like Pavarotti/Price/Solti or di Stefano/Callas (either live or studio). Caballe sounds past her prime, and somewhat off-pitch; certainly nothing like her luminous Violetta for Pretre. Wixell's wide wobble makes him sound positively amateur. The biggest disappointment was the Ulrica, possibly the worst professionally recorded voice I've ever heard. As for the conducting, it's pretty middle-of-the-road, nothing offensive, nor ground-breaking.

Despite all this, there is one element of this recording that some will find attractive enough to overcome the many faults. In a word: Carreras. I'm absolutely crazy for his voice. As far as I know, this is the only studio recording of him in this role, so it's precious in that respect.

In short, don't buy this if it's your first Ballo. My personal favorite is the di Stefano/Callas studio recording, but part of the reason is I hate Pavarotti. If you don't hate Pavarotti, the Solti is also a good choice, as it has the beautiful and elegant Amelia of Margaret Price (and Kathleen Battle doesn't shame herself as Oscar). However, hardcore fans of Carreras (the best tenor EVAR!) will probably want this documentation of his luscious voice."