Great variety of fantastic singers!
Joe Green | White Plains, NY | 01/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is as good as it gets. An awesome roster of international stars singing some of the best (but not the most well known) selections in all of opera, and of course James Levine, the man they are all celebrating. It almost goes without saying that Levine's conducting is without comparison throughout the recording. He is truly one of the best conductors of the last thirty years, and he has molded the Met Orchestra into the best in the world. This celebration perfectly captures the incredibly broad repertoire that he is familiar for. It starts out with a well-rounded performance of the famous duet from The Pearl Fishers by Bryn Terfel and Roberto Alagana. When I bought the CD I had never heard the incredible melody that forms the theme of the duet, but it is one of the best in all of opera. Renee Flemming gives a performance of "Despuis le jour" that would be hard to match for sheer vocal beauty. Her final pianisimo is stunning. Domingo and Ramey sing a typically excellent performance of the Faust duet, while Ileana Cotrubas, in a Lehar excerpt shows why she was one of the best lyric sopranos of the last 25 years. "O don fatale" as sung by Dolora Zajick is the thrilling experience it should be. She nails the top notes perfectly and still maintains the warm fullness of the bottom of her register. The 'bravas' start almost before she finishes her final note. The sextet from Don Giovanni is given a world class performance (I have never heard it done better). Ruth Ann Swenson displays awesome coluratura ability in Juliet's lively waltz song, soaring to a high D in the final cadenza. I am not a big fan of Die Fledermaus, but if you are you will surely love the included duet. I was also never a big Alfredo Kraus fan, and I think he sounds more than a bit strained while singing the famous aria from Werther. Not so Grace Bumbry, who's seductive performance of Delila's music should be the standard for this aria. Deborah Voight's Tannhauser is impeccable, while Frederica von Stade sounds a little shrill in her aria. To round out the program is possibly the most exquisite performance ever of some of the most gorgeous music ever written; the final trio from Die Rosenkavalier. It will make a Strauss convert out of anyone.
There are no problems with the live sound, which is crisp, clean and sounds like it could have come from a recording studio. My only complaint is the lack of an overture or other orchestral number that would showcae the Met orchetra. Overall a CD well worth your money. Hopefully DG will release another CD soon with the rest of the concert. You won't find these selections anywhere else so every minute of it will be new and fresh. Fantastic for hard core opera fans or beginners. Highly Recommended!"
Passing the acid test
Joe Green | 07/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My acid test is whether I leave the CD in the player for repeated (and repeated) playings. This one makes my cut. Every track is not as marvelous as some, but each has its charms. The whole adds up to a delicious opera excursion. I saw this live and was completely captivated. Without the visuals, it is just as wonderful. I too wish they would release the rest of this marathon extravaganza. It deserves to be memorialized."
James Levine's 25th Anniversary Met Opera Gala
Glenna O. Blohm | 08/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is an incredibly beautiful album. As with any album I like some pieces better than the next but overall it is beautiful and soothing. I keep it in the car and listen to it in horrid traffic time. It helps!"