G. Golding | Seattle, WA | 03/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The main reason for this set is Freni's interpretation of Suor Angelica. There is no denying that Freni's voice is not as steady and easy as it once was. For a lady of nearly 60 years (when this recording was made) it is astonishing! Suor Angelica brings (for me) the greatest operatic achievement on disc. I have never heard such heart felt singing, such character, and it tears me up every time I hear it.
In Senza mamma, her floated "sei qui, sei qui" is breathtaking; a mother's farewell to her beloved child. She does a great diminuendo on the final high A flat, too. From there, the performance heats up!
Angelica thanks her sisters and states she is happy (knowing she will soon die to be with her son). This scene is capped with a pianissimo high C that is jaw dropping in its beauty. If you loved Freni's high C# at the close of Butterfly's entrance, then you will love this. It's one of the most ravishing musical moments I have ever heard.
Bartoletti's conducting is inspired and thoughtful, full of passion and drama and he shapes the intermezzo beautifully. Listen to the inflection in Freni's voice as she sings goodbye to her sisters. You can hear her smiling; she is happy.
After she takes the poison, Freni is white hot! She simply doesn't sing "oh, I'm damned." She almost doesn't sing it at all.....She shouts, shrieks, sobs as she begs for her salvation, one of the most dramatic scenes in all opera. As the opera comes to a ravishing close, she crowns the whole performance with a rock-solid high C. This is so awesome and so moving that I have to listen to it at least once each week. A must for anyone that loves opera and loves to be moved. Bring tissue!
The other two operas are quite acceptable with the voices of Juan Pons and Roberto Alagna standing out. Pons sings with weight and maturity while Alagna sings with freshness and zest, though he is not the firmest toned of tenors. Leo Nucci is not one of my favorite singers, but he characterizes Gianni Schicci well enough. Freni sounds more at home, at this stage in her career, as Georgetta than Lauretta. Lauretta is a very small role though and we can forgive her if she sounds too mature. She even manages to sing the optional C# at the end of the opera!If you want a young sounding, youthful voice in these operas at the expense of great drama and heartbreaking singing, then this is not the set for you. Try the Lucia Popp or Joan Sutherland recordings. They have younger voices, but no where near the artistry and commitment of Mirella Freni. For me, I'll take Freni again and again."
Not her best work
D. Thomas | Altadena, CA USA | 09/27/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I had great hopes for this recording given the other review here and my great fondness for Mirella Freni. But this is not her best work by a long shot. She sings with great effort, her tone is uneven and hollow and the high notes are shrill and screechy. She shouldn't have attempted this project so late in her glorious career. This recording is hard to listen to and I'm a big fan."