A BEAUTIFULLY SUNG PERFORMANCE
(5 out of 5 stars)
"OK------ the sound is definitely monophonic 1962 radio broadcast sound, but if you love Bellini's music, and if you want to hear this opera performed the way the composer intended, then you will find much to cherish in this performance. The spectacular Joan Sutherlandesque embellishments are not here (Bellini never wrote them anyway), but what IS here is a meltingly beautiful performance by the 27 year old Mirella Freni, who still had the "peach fuzz" on her voice, which has never sounded more beautiful than it does here. The same has to be said for Alfredo Kraus, 34 years old at the time of this recording, and with his beautiful voice in its early prime. The robust and bombastic Pavarotti-isms are here replaced by the lyrical, smooth, and elegant style that was only Kraus' to command. Please do not misunderstand --- Pavaroti and Sutherland are spectacular in their recording of this opera, but as Freni and Kraus demonstrate, there is another way to sing this Bellini masterpiece ---- and they demonstrate this brilliantly.
The conducting is OK, but the singers are what matter in this recording. The audience must have loved it (which is also obvious on this live recording.)"
Good performance playing at wrong speed
J. Martin | Pensacola, FL | 02/17/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As usual with Opera D'Oro performances the wary buyer must be willing to settle for variable sound and very sloppy transfers on most items. Like many of their recordings, this performance is running a whole half-step high. So the glorious Sutherland-like high notes of Freni lose some of their luster when the recording is pitched properly. She is good, but really fades vocally at the end of the difficult Act I finale, and like most sopranos (except maybe for Sutherland) she just stops singing in many places in order to reserve her voice for the rest of this difficult opera. Kraus is a classic Arturo, singing with his usual elegance and great finesse. He is one of the few tenors to sing this role who was able to deal with the tessatura. So if you chose to buy this performance, plan on pitching it down (I purchased a variable-speed cd player to deal with this issue) or listening to it playing fast which gives a very distorted impression of the singers and the music. Being a musician, I can't handle that!"