Shawn Chua | Singapore | 06/01/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This present selection of arias are taken from the Opera d'Oro catalogue in which Montserrat Caballe is featured live in the earlier part of her career when she had just acheived international acclaim.In Il Pirata, which Caballe herself avows that the role of Imogene is more difficult than Norman, Caballe turns in a beautiful rendition of the scene and aria. Her "Col sorriso d'innocenza" is as good as it gets, with her trademarks generously displayed for our benefit. An immaculately beautiful voice combined with impeccable technique and formidable breath control, renders the performance with an intangible quality that lends itself to legend.Her "Un bel di" from Butterfly is no less charming. No doubt she may not look the part and she also gave up the role early in her career, but she transcends the physical aspect of the role when she sings. Her voice is gorgeously plush and velvety and she soars as the spirit of Butterfly soars as she aspires for the return of Pinkerton.Other selections from Un balla in maschera and Ernani are less popular and famous, but are worth a listen, especially for the harvest reaped by Caballe's reading of the roles.In Il Trovatore, Caballe sings one of the two Leonoras Verdi wrote. She excelled in both and this is clearly evident here. Her "Tacea la notte" and "D'amor sull'ali rosee" are wondefully spun with the requisite deftness and delicacy when necessary.One good gauge of the excellent and recommendable singing here is the thunderous applause given by the audience. This evening with Montserrat Caballe may not be an intimate tete-a-tete, but it sure is one evening you will etch in your memory for a long time to come."