Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Bellini, Caballe, Kraus|
Listen to Samples
Well Conducted and Sung
Virginia Opera Fan | Falls Church, VA USA | 03/09/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"More old wine in new bottles from EMI - the third CD appearance for this nearly 30 year old recording. This time it is shorn of the libretto (though you can download it) and the replacement synopsis is either funny or smarmy depending on your mood.
Under Muti's eagle eye, the singers stick to the written text, eschewing interpolated high notes and ornamentation. "Come scritto", but it certainly inhibits the fun. In an opera with as many holes in the plot as Puritani - beginning with the title "The Puritans of Scotland" when the action is set in Plymouth - the vocal fireworks save the day. As the heroine, who seems to go in and out of madness with changes in the humidity, Caballe turns in a nicely sung, but careful, performance. She was never the most impressive florid singer and didn't have much of a trill. Add to the mix that by this stage of the game, the tone was beginning to lose its luster. This is a good, not great, performance. Either of Sutherland's recordings are better pieces of work. She's in fresher voice in the earlier version but has a better surrounding cast in the second. Beverly Sills also sings well in her recording and probably makes as much dramatically of this stick figure as can be expected. I can't make up my mind between her and Sutherland 2 as a preference.
Arturo was written to exploit the legendary Rubini's extraordinary upward extension, so the role is a difficult one for ordinary tenors. The late Alfredo Kraus does pretty well with the killer range and sings the written high notes. He never had the most ingratiating tone over the course of a very long career, but turns in a decent performance. Pavarotti is marginally better for Sutherland 2. Gedda was nearing the end of his career when he sang the role with Sills and about Pierre Duval, well, the less said the better.
Manuguerra and Ferrin outsing the competition on the other sets and Hamari makes as much as anyone could expect of her brief appearance as Queen Henrietta.
This is a nice performance of an opera that I think needs all the help it can get to make us care about these stock characters. Sutherland 2 and Sills make a better case for it. (Yes, the 50 some year old Callas recording is still available, but it's cut to ribbons, La Divina sings with a late nineteenth century slant on belcanto, and the supporting cast is nothing special.)"