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Birgit Nilsson: Opera Arias
Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Giuseppe Verdi
Birgit Nilsson: Opera Arias
Genres: Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #1


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This is one of Birgit Nilsson's best ever recording
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is the Birgit Nilsson equivalent of Joan Sutherland's "The Art of Prima Donna". It is one of Birgit Nilsson's best recording ever!! Here are the reasons I say that this is one of Birgit Nilsson's best ever:1. This recording was produced by Walter Legge. This one sentence is enough reason. Walter Legge was legendary as a perfectionist. He spent hours trying to get his singers to sing characterfully. Karajan, who worked with Legge used to get fed up with Legge's perfectionistic ways. Legge's influence is apparent here. Many people have criticized Birgit Nilsson for her shortcomings in characterization. Well, this recording shows otherwise. Here, Birgit Nilsson is in freshest voice and (apparently prodded on by Walter Legge), her singing here is more characterful than usual. As an example, this is her best "Abscheulischer!" aria (Fidelio) on record. There are a few recordings of this aria - 2 with Decca, 1 with Gala (Bernstein) and 1 with Koch Schwann (Erich Kleiber). But this is the best!! In some of her recordings with Decca, she is a bit careless in the singing. But here everything is sung with extreme care. Birgit Nilsson is truly one of the greatest Leonores. By the way, this is also her first recording. 2. Decca likes to balance their singers backwards, thus in the Decca sets, her voice loses a bit of impact. In these recordings, Nilsson is balanced forward so that the full impact and glory of her voice is more truthfully captured. It also makes the recording more thrilling.3. This is the young Birgit Nilsson. She is eager to do her best. Her voice is at its freshest. All notes are attacked with breathtaking cleanness - every note is hit right-on, dead center - no under-the-note attack.4. The stereo sound is superb. With all the technological improvements, the sound here still beats recent digital recordings hands down. It goes to show that it is not enough that technology improves. The most important thing is that people must UNDERSTAND how to do recordings. And Walter Legge was legendary in this respect - witness his Fidelio, Zauberflote, Don Giovanni, Cosi Fan Tutte, Le Nozze di Figaro.By the way, these comments also apply to the duet recording with Hans Hotter, also under Testament Number 1201. And if you like these recordings, you must get Nilsson's Elektra with Solti (Decca), her Die Frau Ohne Schatten with Bohm (DG), her Salome with Solti (Decca), her Isolde with Bohm (DG), her Brunnhilde with both Solti (Decca) and Bohm (Philips), her Venus and Elisabeth with Gerdes (DG)."
Birgit Nilsson is simply astounding!!!
V. Chau | San Diego, CA | 05/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Birgit Nilsson shines in this recital disc. Her huge, distinctive voice is well-suited for the German arias on this disc. She has a spectacular upper register. Her high notes are always rock-solid and powerful. I didn't care much for her rendition of the "Don Giovanni" aria. "Abscheulicher, wo eilst du hin?" is given a marvelous interpretation. Nilsson handles the coloratura runs quite well. "Ah, perfido Op. 65" is a boring, never-ending concert aria that should have been left out. I realize it is Beethoven, but it is not very good. The Oberon aria benefits mightily from Nilsson's mighty voice. The "Der Freischütz" aria is wonderful and Nilsson performs it beautifully. A rock-solid high note near the end is definitely worth waiting for. The Liebestod from "Tristan und Isolde" is given a good account, but Nilsson's version on her live recording from Bayreuth beats it. Heinz Wallberg does a nice job of conducting all the German arias except the one from "Tristan und Isolde", which is conducted by Leopold Ludwig. I felt Ludwig's tempos to be too slow in that aria. Ludwig's tempos for the Verdi arias also tend to be too slow, especially in "Pace, pace, mio Dio". Nilsson does not sound entirely idiomatic in the Verdi selections, but she sings the living daylights out of them. Nilsson makes a very powerful Aïda. She is not able to softly float the word "mio" in the phrase "del padre mio" as well as other sopranos can, but this is a minor complaint. The high note on "Ah!" before the word "Sventurata!" is gigantic! It always makes me laugh when I hear the way she phrases "Che dissi?" after the word "Sventurata!". The "Forza" aria is nicely done. Notice how the high note on the word "pace" changes from beginning to end. Nilsson starts it out softly, but her huge voice causes the tone to swell out. Amazing! I wish Nilsson had held the high note on the last "Maledizione" longer. It seems that, if she had, she would have drowned out the entire orchestra. "Ecco l'orrido campo" is given a competent reading, but Amelia was never one of Nilsson's strongest roles. The last aria is a superb "O patria mia". Nilsson is at her most tender in this aria. Her soft singing is wonderful to hear. The dolce high C is managed admirably. The most impressive high note in the aria is the last one. Nilsson sings it softly, causing her voice to take on a girlish quality. This is pretty amazing since many people consider Nilsson's voice to be frigid in tone.I believe that the "Don Giovanni" aria, the Beethoven concert aria and the "Ballo" aria should have been scrapped in favor of "Vieni! t'affretta!", "La luce langue", and a shortened version of the Sleepwalking Scene from "Macbeth"."
V. Chau | 11/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I'm amazed at how accurately this recording captures the power, majesty and beauty of Birgit Nilsson's mighty voice. Many of her Decca recordings do not do full justice to her huge strong voice. Fortunately, her Isolde and Brunnhilde with Karl Bohm (Deutsche) more accurately captures her voice. Now too these recordings join the ranks of those two legendary recordings. In these recordings, she is recorded closer and you can feel the power of her voice more realistically. Bravo Testament for issuing these on CDs beautifully remastered."