"I gave this collection 5 stars because of the beauty of Montserrat Caballé's voice. As all her fans will agree, she is incredible! However, buyers should be aware that the literature accompanying this set is very limited. Although the cardboard CD slipcases are reproductions of the original LP album jackets, due to the much smaller size most of the text on the back of each is practically illegible. There is also a 64 page booklet which gives a brief account of Caballé's career, reproduces some of the text from the album covers at a readable size, and includes a few B&W photos of the Diva. I was extremely disappointed to find none of the texts included with this set. This is especially annoying since each of the reproduced album covers specifically says that texts and translations are included (as they undoubtedly were in the originals). I do not agree with the previous reviewer that this collection is being issued at a bargain price. At this price, Sony should have provided the texts. At minimum, they could have made them available on their website. Granted, libretti of the more popular works are easily available, but when was the last time anyone saw the libretto of Donizetti's Maria de Rohan?"
MAGNIFICENT... BUT MAY I HAVE SOME MORE?
Bartolome Mesa Gil | Malaga, SPAIN | 04/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great set, and a nice anniversary issue to coincide with the 75th birthday of the great Spanish soprano, a truly grand diva and unique voice, maybe the last example of a breed of singers directly connected with the Grand Tradition and a vocal art -of purity of tone, breath control, combination of power and agility, musicianship and refined artistry, not to mention breathtaking pianissimi- that seems to be quite forgotten by today's big media opera stars. Sony has issued in their original jackets, like beautiful mini LPs, most of her RCA recordings and some of her Spanish Columbia recordings released between 1965, year of her first LP for the American company (Presenting Montserrat Caballé), and 1972. Including Montserrat Caballé Sings Zarzuela, Songs of Enrique Granados, Strauss Lieder Recital, Verdi rarities, Rossini rarities, Zarzuela Love Duets (with husband Bernabé Martí), Donizetti rarities, Great Operatic Heroines, Caballé & Verret Duets, and two complete operas, Norma and Salome. Missing are, among others, the complete recordings of Lucrezia Borgia and Traviata. Anyway, a wonderful box-set at a bargain price and, though I had already all these recordings in previous CD incarnations, I secured my copy as soon as I knew of it. And so should you, before it is too late, being a limited edition. Now, if Sony gave the same treatment to the 8 LPs recorded for the Spanish Vergara and Columbia labels not included here (starting with a superb 1963 Toldrá recital, her very first LP), I would be eternally grateful. Almost all of them were released in compilations by RCA France to celebrate Caballé's 70th birthday. Sony own now the rights and it would be a wonderful sequel to this set.
And now that I'm at it, what about her Verdi Requiem with Plácido Domingo, conducted by Metha? Or her live Gemma di Vergy at Carnegie Hall? Both albums were released by Columbia in the Masterworks series on LP and haven't appeared on CD yet. That's a real crime. What is Sony waiting for?"
This collection is a must have for fans of Caballe!
Darby G. Fegan | 10/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have long been a fan of Caballe, and these recordings from her early/middle career are essential to anyone who wants to understand the astonishing versatility of one of the twentieth century's greatest singers. Caballe turned the operatic world on its ear, with her New York debut, subbing for an indisposed Marilyn Horne, and we opera lovers have been blessed ever since. This collection is an incredible value, and long overdue. The Italian opera selections are breathtaking, literally! Who else has exhibited such incredible breath control, and been capable of such dynamic contrast, from stunning fortissimos, to the fabled pianissimi? Caballe's fioratura is also impeccable. She is one of the few sopranos who can truly sing Norma, and encompass all the role's demands, as well as sing the socks off Salome. The spanish selections are essential, and no soprano has ever essayed the zarzuela repertoire with such disarming ease, truly making a case for the incredible wealth of this repertoire. This is an amazing collection representative of Caballe's vocal prime. If I had to choose a single favorite band it would be the "Wiegenlied" of R. Strauss on the all Strauss lieder CD. It is a heaven sent match of composer and artist. I was fortunate to see Caballe and Horne in concert, and in a Semiramade in San Francisco. These were two evenings I shall never forget. Happy, happy birthday to the divine Caballe!"
CABALLE COLLECTION BRAVA LA DIVA!
Alan W. Petrucelli | THE ENTERTAINMENT REPORT (ALAN W. PETRUCELLI) | 09/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Commemorating the diva's 75th birthday, the 15-disc collection includes works personally chosen by the operatic heavyweight. All aspects of her long career are here: famous Italian arias and rarities, German Lied repertoire, zarzuela arias and the complete operas of Salome and Norma. Like those in the companion Ormandy set, these recordings have been remastered in state-of-the-art sound from original sources, and presented with CD size reproductions of original LP jackets. Brava! Celebrating the "Philadelphia Sound"---the lushly expressiv e orchestral signature sound that Eugene Ormandy inspired from his background as a violinist--- this 10-disc limited-edition collection documents one of the greatest conductor/orchestra partnerships in musical history. Listen once again to Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra performs true classical gems, from Bartok to Mendelssohn, Rachmaninoff to Rimsky-Korsakov. Encore! "
A truly well rounded release.
Angus W. Grant | Melbourne, Australia | 12/11/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What a pleasure it is to have the wonderful reproductions of the original LP covers in this set. It really does help create a sense of nostalgia and excitement. What a difference from the indifferent packaging of so many recent box sets.
What will astound you in this set is the consistent beauty and artistry of the performances, how exciting it must have been to see her on stage. Her ability to wield such an enormous voice to create such a full, powerful and beautiful sound and then pare it right back without resorting to a mezza di voce was a wonder.
Some of the recordings have dated a little. The Rossini disc shows how much we have evolved the performance practice of his operas (little of the material is 'Rare' these days)and the comparison is fascinating. On the Donizetti disc the recording sometimes distorts the voice on high notes which is a dreadful shame. If there are any below performances they are the fault of some indifferent conducting and below par Spanish orchestras. The Granados arrangements are dull and the playing bland. The winds in some of the early recitals sound amateur, but this strangely somehow adds to the sense of discovery. Would it have been better to include her RCA Traviata or Lucrezia Borgia instead? Discuss.
If you are unfamiliar with the Salome and Norma recordings you will be pleasantly surprised by the subtlety and effectiveness of her dramatic interpretation. All the recital discs are tremendous and sufficiently varied in the material covered... and of course I agree in the above reviewers' opinion of the Strauss Lieder disc.
So much to enjoy, and what a lovely present to buy for someone you like more than yourself."