"I rate this as a very valuable sampler. It gives the listener not only a reasonable introduction to various operatic works and styles (though there is a prominent Puccini verissimo presence) but a good introduction to the different artists. I like the fact that some operas feature more than one work on the CD because there's less of a chance you'll fall in love with one aria and go buy the entire opera, only to discover that the aria is nearly all that you enjoy.
As for the sopranos... I adored nearly all of them. I have listened to many of their recordings and I can vouch for these arias as good indicators of their outstanding talent....the few exceptions will follow, however.
I make special mention of some sopranos. Leontyne Price's Tosca, is the first. Her Aida has been her crown jewel but I would place her Tosca as a very strong rival. Also, the Turandot recording with Monsterrat Caballe is perhaps the finest on CD, and her Liu here shows why: she is blessed with a heart-melting upper register. Pilar Lorengar's Russalka was a very pleasant surprise...I wish I could find a complete recording of her singing the title role. I believe we will just have to contend with this however. I'd never heard of Virginia Zeani prior to this CD but I loved the secure purchase and `sanguine tinge' of her voice...I'll be on the look out for her in the future. Of course, we get a reliable performance from Mirella Freni: touching and delicate as usual, but never weak. Kathleen Battle proves why she can get away with her notoriously despicable attitude: she really was the golden voice of the Met! Sumi Jo's technically perfect and stunning aria (again a good indicator of what you can generally expect from her) is the perfect, exciting end to this compilation.
The exceptions? I found Graziella Sciutti's tone to be too `heady'... if you'll forgive the crude term. I imagined the sound to come from an old woman. This will be a matter of preference. Renata Tebaldi is a touchy subject for some people because of some petty bashing that sometimes takes place. While I'm no `basher,' I never found her voice aesthetically appealing. I find her tone metallic and hard. Here, however, is the best I've heard her (I've heard her Cavaleria Rusticana, her La Wally and her Turandot). While her La Rondine here is not bad, Angela Georghiu's interpretation is one example of a soprano who is vastly superior in my opinion. Finally, the `immortal' Kirsten Flagstad performs "Du bist der Lenz" from Die Walkure in Wagner's Ring cycle. The old sound quality aside, I would not have enjoyed her Sieglinde, `full-throated' as it was. I wrote this off immediately as an idiosyncrasy for Flagstad fans. Apologies if anyone is offended (and this is sincere) but the whole musical effect is that of some lumbering leviathan...this is the stereotypical tedium that people ascribe to Wagner. All-in-all, however, I found the experience invaluable. I certainly am more aware of recordings that I'm not likely to enjoy and so have avoided making mistakes. When saying so, however, these sopranos are truly legendary. But as in all things, preferences will vary and so I have stated mine. "
ColoraturaSoprano | my computer desk | 09/01/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a big fan of the many "Top such and such sopranos" type CDs, I found this to be one of the best yet. It exemplifies the highlights of each sopranos career...and leaves you with a great impression of them all.Also, the CD is quite enjoyable, for it varies from heavy, matured sopranos..to those younger, more glittering and creamy. I found this to truly be money well spent, for it a wonderful addition to my "opera hits" collection. One point off for the rather stereotypical selection fo arias and such ...otherwise...Enjoy!"
A few real jewels with a couple of paste ones mixed in...
Luxie P. | Brooklyn, NY United States | 11/03/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Most aria/song compilations suck. That's just the nature of compilations in general - It's hard to get a good mix of singers, arias and performances that will appeal to a broad audience.
This one mostly succeeds with a few exceptions. The singers are, over-all, excellently selected. Most of the performers are excellent singers, and their respective selections show them at the highest level of their careers. This was a treat to realize, because quite often, compilations fall back on using poorer quality artists.
There are a few, however, that don't match up to the performances of some of the other soprani on the album. That's not to say that they don't have their own talent and value, but it's hard to appreciate their lesser stars when faced with the brilliance of Caballe, L. Price & other similar talents.
The selection of arias was also not to my taste. I personally could live in peace the rest of my days without hearing another "O Mio Babbino Caro," but personal taste aside, it would have been nice to hear some of the greater, but less frequently performed arias, as well as some of the commonly done but more appealing arias, too.
Out of all the music written by Mozart and Wagner, the best they could do was Welche Wonne, welche Lust & Du bist der Lenz?
This probably isn't a great album to introduce newbies to opera in general, but there is some good listening on it - particularly Caballe's Signore, Ascolte & Tebaldi's Che il bel sogno di Doretta."
Sutherland, Battle, Te Kanawa.....Need I say More?
Basso Profondo | Texas | 12/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This truly is a marvellous recording of the top Soprano's of our time in their prime. The Album starts with Kiri Te Kanawa singing Mozart's "Dove Sono", in which she captures the true essence of a wife questioning her marriage that has disintegrated over the years. And her phrasing in this song is heavenly. Battle's version of "Welche Wonne" is the best I've heard to date. I've listened to numerous other recordings of this aria and still havent found one that measures up to this one. Sutherland pulls off gounod's "O dieu, que di bijoux" excellently, with the greatest of ease. I could go on and on, but I'll end my review with this: These are excellent recordings of excellent singers at their very best, singing music by the masters. It would be worth your money."
Jewel Song 20 Great Soprano Arias
S. S. Boshoff | Jo'burg South Africa | 06/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Recording quality excellent A must for the soprano voice lover"