"By far Leoncavallo's most famous opera, "Pagliacci" may not be the most subtle and refined of all verismo operas, but when a world-class cast comes together, as in this recording, the result is highly satisfying. Domingo may not be the best Canio ever (Caruso seems to be pretty unbeatable) but he is by far the best one on a modern set. His loud, high notes (of which there are many) are thrilling and he portrays Canio's agony successfully. Caballé, not a singer you would immediately think of in a role like Nedda, offers an excellent performance, in wonderful voice and bringing some much-needed charm into this opera. Milnes is a really superb Tonio, especially in the famous Prologue, which really keeps you ready for the drama to come. McDaniel is adequate as Silvio. The chorus is good, not quite up to their usual standard in this RCA series, but they aren't bad. Nello Santi, however, provides excellent support for the singers and drives home the power of this opera in a magnetic reading. The packaging must be noted, too. Even though this is a single-CD set, it still comes in a slip-case with a libretto booklet. RCA has done an excellent job remastering this, and it can be recommended with confidence to all listeners."
Best recording available.
D. R. Schryer | Poquoson, VA United States | 09/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Leoncavallo was inspired to write his two-act verismo opera Pagliacci by the phenomenal success of Mascagni's one act verismo opera Cavelleria Rusticana. While Pagliacci is not quite as seemlessly beautiful from beginning to end as its almost-perfect predecessor, it has nevertheless established a solid place for itself in the repertoire of most-popular operas. Pagliacci begins with a beautiful prologue sung by the clown Tonio who informs us that we are about to see (or, in the case of this recording, hear) a play which reveals that even clowns have deep emotions. On this recording the prologue -- and the role of Tonio -- are gorgeously sung by Sherill Milnes, one of the finest baritones of the past half century. The tenor role of the clown Canio is sung by the great Placido Domingo at the top of his form. Canio's unfaithful wife Nedda is quite capably sung by soprano Montserrat Caballe. Although I am not normally a fan of Caballe, this is one of the finest performances I've heard her give. The conducting by Nello Santi is outstanding. Pagliacci is not one of my favorite operas, but this recording of it has won me over thoroughly. I recommend it highly."
A sound buy
D. Fair | Baltimore, MD | 12/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My Mom just got a CD Player installed in her car and since she's an opera fan, I thought I would break in the new player by getting her this inexpensive gift. Of course I had heard Vesti la giubba before and I've heard Fleming do the soprano aria, but I really didn't know the story abd hadn't really heard any of the opera before. Well, my Mom loved this CD! So I got her a good present. I listened to it myself while in the car with her and I couldn't believe how good it really was! The last scene is really where the greatness of this CD lies. Domingo is fabulous! And his scene partner, Caballé, does him worlds of justice; as does Milnes. Domingo has this fiery fury towards Nedda for lying to him this whole time. I really wonder if this was not a staged performance -- with interaction and acting and everything. I feel like maybe there was an audience. There is just such a raw drama. This is the stuff excellent operas are made of! Montserrat is a world class actress. She shows in that last scene Nedda's nervousness and forced composure. As I remember this is my mind, I can't believe I was listening to another language. That's how real this was! And the chorus is involved to! I mean, I really felt that I was listening to a live performance! And the price is right too. Now, I have yet to hear the Pavarotti/Freni or the Bjorling versions, but I can't imagine they'd be much better. This is a sound buy. I highly recommend it."
The Best Pagliacci
dolcissima2780 | Pennsylvania, USA | 06/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Right from the opening, this recording of Pagliacci demands the listener's attention. Sherrill Milnes delivers a superb performance of the Prologueand sets the tone of greatness for the entire opera. Montserrat Caballe is astonishing in her role as Nedda. Normally, I find her voice quite irritating, but she pulls off a striking performance here along with Placido Domingo. Both Domingo's singing and acting are in top form especially in "Recitar." The orchestra is fine while the chorus could use a little help in delivering a bit more impassioned performance. Nello Santi's conducting is flawless as usual. Striking opera with a striking cast."