cmccants | Winnsboro, SC USA | 12/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Leonie Rysanek was a singer of great gifts and literally of many parts. Her career extended over 46 years and took her into almost every corner of the repertoire. This Gala recording samples 28 of the 46 years and includes selections from eleven different operas, and everything she does seems to work for her. The gleaming top of her voice made her a natural for Puccini's Turandot, but she was equally at home in the garb of Strauss's Marschallin. The three selections from Verdi's Macbeth are, to my ear, more exciting than her excellent studio recording in spite of the German translation, and the first act Otello duet has about it a gentleness often absent in performances of this music. I heard her twice in person and can vouch from experience that these live-performance recordings capture quite well the glow of her voice and the drama of her performances. She shares repertoire here with Callas and she is as deep into the understanding of these roles as was "La Divina." The difference is that Rysanek managed it all with wonderfully secure high notes. Her duet partners are not always up to her high standard, but George London in the Aida duet makes a brave sound, and I was impressed with Bernd Aldenhoff as Otello. It's Rysanek, however, who is the star attraction, a true queen of the operatic stage. The quality of the recordings is surprisingly good for live sources from up to fifty years ago. I highly recommend this issue."
Great performances at a budget price
cmccants | 08/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For less than the price of full-priced 1 CD, you get 2 full CDs with fabulous performances by Leonie Rysanek, one of the greatest sopranos of the 2nd half of the 20th century. Leonie Rysanek's shimmering 'floating' soprano voice has no rivals. Birgit Nilsson's top notes were powerful but of another timbre. Birgit Nilsson's top notes are hard - like metal, like a laser beam. Leonie Rysanek has a 'soft' upper register. But soft does not equal no power. If you hear Birgit and Leonie together in Elektra, you will realize that Leonie can match Birgit in terms of vocal volume, note for note. The only difference is that Leonie has a flexible voice, the sound is different. So we have on record here one of the greatest voice this century - no less legendary than Birgit Nilsson, Joan Sutherland, Leontyne Price or Renee Fleming. But admittedly Leonie was more low-profile because she didn't do many commerial recordings so a lot of people who are not opera lovers are not aware of her.So enjoy this wonderful CD!!"