Caballe makes a truly wonderful Lucia and Carreras!
Rod Tierman | 03/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording is truly delightful, however it is a rather unusual performance in some ways. One is accustomed to hearing the title role of Lucia being sung by a coloratura soprano. Madame Caballe was not a coloratura, but she handles her role exquisitely. Some of the coloratura passages are not there (imitating the flute passages in the "Mad Scene" for example), but Mdme Caballe offers here a thoroughly compelling portrayal of the tragic and disturbed heroine, realizing some emotional nuances one does not hear in some of the other recordings. Caballe's singing on top is pretty effortless, to say the least. The real surprise I found here was in the singing of Jose Carreras. This, along with the Tosca once again with Caballe has got to be Carreras' greatest recording. Carreras IS probably the greatest Edgardo on record, singing even the written, but always not sung, optional High E flat in the first act duet with Lucia. And Carreras sings the E flat exceptionally well. The final Tomb scene of Edgardo's is also magnificently sung by Maestro Carreras. This is the type of singing that got Carreras ranked amongst the greats of today. Even if you don't normally like the singing of Jose Carreras, you will probably LOVE his singing on this recording. Samuel Ramey sings the principal basso role here and hands in his customary great performance. The Enrico is performed by a very verile sounding Vincente Sardinero. The sextett is wonderfully sung. Even the secondary Tenor role of Arturo is magnificently sung by Charles H. Ahnsjo. Lopez-Corbos' conducting is excellent here and the sonics on the recording are superb! I'm not saying that this performance blows Sutherland, Callas, or Moffo out of the saddle, but this recording has many wonderful things to recommend it, namely the singing of Caballe, Carreras, Sardinero, and Ramey. This recording definitely DOES rank up there with the best. I just can't begin to tell you how much I love this recording of Lucia (and I own all the others with Moffo, Sutherland, and Callas etal). BUY THIS RECORDING, IT'S TERRIFIC and at the SUPER bargain price of under $20.00, you can't miss."
Underrated.....and a bargain!
Rod Tierman | 08/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First off, let me assert that it doesn't matter one bit whether Callas' Lucia was more dramatic or Sutherland's Lucia had a prettier voice. Caballe gives, I beleve, a more well-rounded performance here than either of the other two did in their recordings, and one that is different, somewhat unorthodox, and as another reviewer said, refeshing. I find Caballe darker and less "frivolous" (for lack of a better word) than Sutherland, and I find her voice much more palatable that Callas. Whereas I have no trouble taking Callas seriously in a role (perhaps too seriously sometimes, e.g., Tosca), I find it impossible to listen to her voice for more than 10 minutes at a time. Sutherland is exactly the opposite - I could listen for days, but she'd never fool me into thinking she's anything but a songbird on display (and maybe after few days I could figure out what words she was singing). Here Caballe manages a happy medium without compromising too much. Now, it's true she's not a coloratura, and you won't find as many of the spine-tingling fireworks you get with Moffo, Gruberova, or Sutherland, but I think the opera as a whole benefits from having lucia as a more lyric-dramatic role.OK, enough about Lucia - the real treat is Jose Carreras as Edgardo. Jose Carreras is the absolute best Edgardo ever. Period. This may very well be Carreras' best recording. Carreras' sweet, yet heroic lyric tenor is perfect for the part, and like Caballe's Lucia, it is darker than most others in the role (e.g., Pavarotti). Lets face it, no one can phrase an aria as beautifully as Carreras can. His final two solos are heavenly (epecially the last solo in the graveyard). He is also great in the duet and enseble pieces, e.g., the Edgardo/Enrico duet in Act III (which is often cut), the Act II sextet, and the duet with Caballe/Lucia in Act I. Carreras alone is worth the price of the CD.The supporting cast is quite strong with Ann Murray as Alisa, Vicente Sardinero as Enrico and Sam Ramey as an awesome (as usual), authoritative Raimondo. All three always carry their own weight at the least, and occasionally grab you by the throat (Ramey/Raimondo's "Dalla Stanze..", Sardinero/Enrico in the duets with Caballe/Lucia and Carreras/Edgardo).Jesus Lopez Cobos' Conducting is something I can't comment on other than to say that everything sounds appropriatly paced. IMO, It's hard to really go wrong with Donizetti unless somthing is blatantly too fast or slow (as opposed to the sophisticated orchestrators who are easy to screw up, e.g., Wagner, Bizet, Strauss, Mozart, Rossini).So, in all, although the recording is somewhat unusual (Darker, heavier voices for the leads), and not what Callas' or Sutherland's detractors call an "essential" recording, I find it extremely well-balanced and likeable. If prior experience with Callas and Sutherland has caused you look for a third alternative to Lucia, this is IT - look no further. Or, if you (like me) like your opera as a whole, with a well-rounded performance from a well-rounded cast, this one is tough to beat.One final note - It's cheap because there's no libretto, but you almost don't need one. The plot is so clear, with just the synopsis in the inside cover, it's really, very easy to follow; In Lucia, Donizetti suceeded in a producing an effective union of music and storyline more so than for any of his other operas -It is true masterpiece. 4 stars + 1 star for the price = 5 stars."
A unique take on "Lucia"
Matteo | Oakland, CA United States | 12/09/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Hmmmmmm. This "Lucia" takes a thankfully new look at this warhorse with the casting of Caballe in the title role. As someone who enjoys her voice I am a bit partial to her singing, so I should say that this version is not for everyone; and those looking for the traditional Lucia type (Sutherland, Moffo, Gruberova)should not purchase this set.But for those who have a scholarly interest in the piece, this could prove a fascinating account of Donizetti's most famous work. The main reason for my purchase of this disk was to hear Caballe and I was not disappointed. While at this point in her career her voice started to become more dramatic and heavy, she lavishes some of her most fluid, sure singing on this character. Compared to a Joan Sutherland or Anna Moffo, Caballe will sound a bit abrasive, but that quality seems to stem from an admirable sense of committment to notes and to character. Her duets with Ann Murray and Jose Carreras, while not always "pretty" are some of the most powerful I have ever heard. The Mad Scene, while a bit heavy on the histrionics, is at least interesting. Again, the delicacy (and even the preciousness) found in most accounts is missing hear, but I prefer Caballe's more forthright account. That it is transposed upward means that the scene does not end with the customary high note, but ends well nevertheless. I actually think the omission of the tippy-top note at the end, and the adjustment conductor Jesus Lopez-Cobos makes ensures a wonderfully theatrical finish to the scene.Technically speaking Caballe fares well throughout; the coloratura is very sure, the voice light and youthful (in comparison to other recordings), and she is less shy than normal about going into the higher reaches of her voice. Again, that doesn't always mean that what comes out is "pretty" but, as I said earlier it sure is powerful and committed. A breath of fresh air in that respect when compared to other versions.Elsewhere, Carreras is perfectly cast as the heroic bel canto tenor and uses his fluid lyric tenor to great effect here. He truly shines in the Lucia/Edgardo duet and this set shows him off at his vocal prime. Jesus Lopez-Cobos' conducting is generally quite good if a bit on the slow side (which may be an attempt to allow Caballe enough "space" to let her voice work, as the vibrato is a bit wider than many sopranos who attempt the role).Overall an interesting take on the opera and one that true fans of either the singers or the opera could find interesting."
The True Lucia
Goodwin Deacon | Seattle, WA USA | 10/13/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"No one can deny that this or any other disc of Lucia will ever replace the major Callas recordings. Her performance, both vocally and dramatically, has no equal. Nonetheless, this recording is a worthy document, both musicologically and vocally.
First of all is its completeness. All the extant Callas recordings are cut, sometimes heavily so. Lucia, to be fully appreciated, must be heard without cuts or embellishments. True, no glass harmonica in the Mad Scene -- only Sills' set includes that marvelously wierd effect. That aside, this edition give's Cameranno's exciting structure its full due.
Caballe may not be the most fluid in her coloratura, but she does give the poor mad girl's character poise and exquisite fragility. Above all there can be no arguement about Carreras. This is one of his finest albums.
At the budget price, this set can be added as an affordable suppliment to any of the Callas performances."
Please Don't Bash A Great Artist: For Caballe fans only
Goodwin Deacon | 01/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording on the Phillips label is only for the most loyal devotees of soprano Montserrat Caballe, or for fans of tenor Jose Carrerras, or even for those who like bass-baritone Samuel Ramey who sings the role of Enrico. Now, regarding the diva. Montserrat Caballe brings her own stamp to the role. Her is not a delicate, light voice that could have made Lucia appropriately vulnerable and tragic. Instead, hers is a Lucia that strives to resemble the dark, dramatic Lucia of Maria Callas. Caballe sings beautifully, majestically but many are turned off by the size of her voice and the approach to the role. Her Lucia is not like the lighter voices of Beverly Sills, Anna Moffo or Roberta Peters. Her voice is as big as Callas and Sutherland, but hers is a voice entirely different than both of them, too. I can't explain it. There is a haunting quality to her singing but it's too "healthy" sounding and people prefer to hear a mentally deranged or vulnerable Lucia. But you have to be a big fan of Caballe to own this recording. Jose Carrerras sings a superb Edgardo, with robust voice, masculinity, romantic expressive lyricism and unending dramatic thrills. Ramey's Enrico is fatherly but purely villainous. His is a voice that is perfect for bel canto and is a pleasure to hear. SAMUEL RAMEY HAS NEVER SUNG A BETTER ROLE! TOO BAD IT'S A SMALL PART. It's absolutely great. Please, at least check out Samuel Ramey in this recording. And he's young and his lung power is terrific. Spanish conductor Jesus Lopez Cobos is outstanding and the music is brilliant."