Much more alive version than any other
SavaDiesel | charlotte, nc | 03/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My mom's from the Czech Republic and bought this cd when we first got a cd player 10 years ago. It sat until last summer when I became interested in opera. I was in love with the highlights and bought the full length 3 disc set with Fleming. This one is much more alive and the percussion really drives hou hou hou and other songs. I understand everyone loves Fleming but the version of song to the moon is just as good here and the singer doesn't mess up pronounciation like Fleming does."
Very nice recording - but still 2nd best
Ralph Padgug | Sacramento, CA USA | 11/16/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I own the complete recording from which this highlights album was made. Benackova in the title role and Richard Novak as her father are both a dream. And as another reviewer has said, the rhythms (esp. in the fabulous 'Hou hou hou' section) are really much bouncier in this version. The whole performance is obviously sung by people who are either native Czech speakers or close to it. This album of highlights is a great bargain. But don't buy the complete set. The tenor Ochman sounds like a real fuddy-duddy (for lack of a better word) rather than a prince; and the mezzo Soukupova's witch, while a great character portrayal, is sung with such a grating, steely voice that it has the effect of fingernails on a chalkboard -- both are MOST disappointing and mar what could have been a really great performance. While Renee Fleming's Czech might not be as good as a native speaker (how unfair to even say that!) her singing as well as all of the other singers on the London recording are simply in a higher class. And there are no weak links to be found. So unless you're a stickler for perfect Czech diction, go with the Fleming version if you're interested in a complete recording (I don't think they've made a highlights album out of it -- yet.)"
The best highlight version overall
C. Harris "Harpie" | 11/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you would like a perfect version of the Song to the Moon, and several selections from Rusalka, this is a great album to get. Gabriela Benackova has a very beautiful lyric soprano, and she sings this aria in such a straighforward, touching way, without any swooning and sentimental schlock. The supporting cast is quite good, especially Novak as Vodnik, and the orchestra is really great. Comparing this to the famous Mackeras version, the orchestras are equally good, with better sense of Dvorak's rhythm on this version, only Jezibaba is not as good, and Ochman as Prince does not compare to Heppner. I found Fleming's singing as Rusalka very disagreeable, she has a very pronounced tendency to scoop and many other mannerisms, and her Czech is terrible (this will not matter to many people, but it does to me) and she also overacts, so the choice for me is clearly Benackova. Her diction is perfect, and her singing on this album is simple and very beautiful, she is very emotionally engaged, and she fits my idea of perfect Rusalka. This is a great highlights disc at very reasonable price."