"Turandot, Puccini's last opera, contains some of the most glorious music that he composed. And this performance does complete justice to the music. It is as close to a perfect performance that is possible. Dame Joan Sutherland, who never performed the role on stage, is as cold as ice as the man-hating princess until Calaf wins her heart. At that moment she transforms into a warm hearted lover. Unfortunately I never saw La Stupenda on stage, but I've always heard that she had a rather large voice. Sure, it wasn't as big as Nillson's, and I don't know how her portrayal would've been in the theater. But in the studio she was perfect. Pavarotti also hadn't performed the role of Calaf when this recording was made but he also knew his character well. He is every inch the ardent prince. Ringing voice and all. His 'Nessun dorma' requires no comment. The role of Liu is sweetly and heartbreakingly sung by Montserrat Caballe (who herself sang Turandot). This recording also includes Nicolai Ghiarouv in the small role of Timur. Peter Pears also makes a cameo as the Imperatore. In short: This is the only Turandot recording to own."
Recording of the Century*****
Tracy L. Powell | 08/10/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Turandot is my very favorite opera and I own most of the Turandot sets out there, including both the Nilsson versions, both of the Marton versions, the Callas one, and even the version with Caballe as Turandot. This one is without question the complete performance. The definitive Turandot, period. At the top of the cast is the great Australian diva Dame Joan Sutherland as the Princess of ice. Her's is a voice that legends are made of, and after listening to her as the ice princess, I can see why. The voice is pure spunned gold, full and Voluptuous from the bottom of the register to highest of notes. Sutherland shows no vocal strain whatsoever, no matter what the music demands. And it is indeed refreshing to hear a warm, gorgeous "Italian trained voice" as Turandot rather than the cold sound of Nilsson or Marton. And not only does Sutherland sings gloriously, she also brings fire and passion to the title role. There is no better Turandot on or off the recording studio. As Prince Calaf, Pavorotti displays the most beautiful vocal line with spectacular high notes. His "Nessum Dorma" will bring chills up and down your spine. Yes, he has to compete with the memory of Franco Corelli and Mario del Monaco, but he meets that challendge with flying colors. Honestly I don't know who is better, Pavorotti or Corelli. The great Spanish diva Monserrat Caballe sings the most heart melting Liu ever and her pianissimo singing is simply unbelievable. There are no other Liu as beautifully sung as her's. Zubin Mehta is one of the finest operatic conductor of our time, and this is his best performance. He brings vividly to life Pucccini's greatest masterpiece. The music here is so beautiful that I get goose pimples everytime I listen to it. As for the recording itself, the orchestra and vocal blend is ideal, presenting the singers and orchestra in perfect harmony, and the sonics are absolutely first rate. This could be the greatest recording of the century, at least for this opera lover."
An opera recording for all time...
email@example.com | Cleveland, OH | 02/24/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Being an opera singer and knowing alot of the work and artistry of the performers involved in this endeavor, I was a bit skeptical that it could be pulled off... and boy was I wrong. I am a huge fan of Joan Sutherland. Her portrayals of such roles as Lucia, Semiramide and Linda di Chamonix are likely never to be surpassed, or even equalled on stage. Likewise, this also goes for her non-performed roles, but recorded ones such as Gilda, Marie and now, Turandot. I said to myself, "Joanie singing Puccini?.. what was she thinking." I was happily shocked. (For more of her Puccini interpretations, check out Suor Angelica and a suprisingly beautiful Tosca.) The sweeping dramatic melodic line and her ability to color each individual phrase sets her apart from the rest. Just listen to the phrase "Sì, la speranza che di lude sempre!" in the riddle scene. Never have I heard so much power and richness come out of Joan's voice. It makes the spine tingle. I am not a big fan of Pavarotti, but his portrayal of Calaf is both intense as well as powerfully sung. I only wish that Luciano would become an artist instead of just a singer. Monserrat Caballé's Liu is quite poignant, but lacks the drama necessary in her final aria "Tu che...". Wonderful support is led by Russian bass Ghiaurov as Timur and English tenor Peter Pears as the Emperor, who, at over 70 years of age when this was recorded, displays the same candor and strength that he showed years earlier in roles such as Peter Grimes and the Male Chorus. This is a wonderful recording to have in one's operatic library. Zubin Metha's conducting is very strong and interpretively correct. The only Turandot recordings to rival this one is Birgit Nilsson's live performance with Franco Corelli (a true tenor di forze) from Milan in 1965 and the videotape of Eva Marton and Placìdo Domingo live from the Met in 1988. Check them all out and you be the judge of who is the best "princess of fire and ice.""
One of the greatest recording of this century!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tracy L. Powell | 06/19/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Joan Sutherland IS the vocal sensation of the century. And she amazes all in this recording as a true dramatic soprano. The gorgeous voice, opulent in tone and gigantic in size is just unbelievable. All notes are shot out of the diva's throat like cannonballs. I am fortunate enough to have heard the great Prima Donna in her prime, and let me say she must be heard in person to be believe. Supremely the vocal miracle of all time. As Turandot, she is not even challenged, in terms of voice, she absolutely soars above the orchestra and chorus with no strain whatsoever. Vocally, no one can touch her. But she also offers amazing fire in this recording, singing with much more passion and sensuous tone than all the other Turandots combined...INCLUDING Birgit Nilsson and Maria Callas. And forget Eva Marton, she screams every note. As Prince Calaf, Pavorotti is ideal. At the time of this recording, Pavorotti had one of the most pure beautiful tenors before the public, and like Sutherland, he has ALL the high notes. Nessum Dorma was his highlight. But I still prefer Franco Corelli's ringing spinto voice. Caballe is ideal as Liu, she uses her perfect bel canto technique to demonstate some of the most awesome pianissimo singing I've ever heard. She is simply a Liu to make you cry. The bonus here, of course, is the glorious music of Puccini. There is not one boring second in this over two hours of magnificent music. The conductor Zubin Mehta, with the help of a PERFECT recording, painted a wonderfully colorful and opulent GRAND OPERA. This is Puccini's MASTERPIECE!! And Puccini, in his wildest dreams would not have imagined a better cast or performance. This is one of the greatest recording of our time.P.S. To hear the most amazing display of coloratura singing ever recorded. I give my highest rating to Joan Sutherland's "The Art of the Prima Donna". You will hear vocal miracles in that cd. Definitely the most breathtaking singing ever recorded. You won't believer your ears, what Dame Joan Sutherland does in that recording is superhuman!!!"
You won't get a better Turandot than this one
firstname.lastname@example.org | 04/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There has been a debate about which one is the best Turandot recording, this set or the Nilsson/Corelli. I own both recordings. The more I play them, the more I like this set better. I don't understand why people attack Sutherland so much. I respect her for making a choice to expand her repertoire beyond the common bel canto roles. For people who think Sutherland did not have a right voice for Turandot, you are deadly wrong. She was perfect as Turandot in this recording. Her high notes were glorious, round and beautiful. She was also less drooping and her diction was clear. Remember that Turandot is a princess, not a Valkyrie. Although she is cold and insensitive, she is still a woman. Sutherland is the only one on recording who effectively protrays this side of Turandot. Yes, Nilsson was very good in this role but she was more like a warrior than a young princess. Pavarotti may not sound heroic as Corelli but his voice is definitely more beautiful and his phrasing is much better. There is no doubt that Caballe is in every way far better than Scotto. The comment from the previous reviewer that suggest Caballe should switch the role with Sutherland is totally absurd. How on earth would Caballe sound more powerful than Sutherland? In her singing here, we have a beautiful, fragile but brave slave girl. Not to mention her famous pianissmo. I would say her "Signore ascolta" is the best on records. Other singers in the supporting roles are perfect; Timur, Ping, Pang and Pong, so is the chorus. The most important part that makes this recording so outstanding is the conducting by Zubin Mehta. He understands every part of this opera and makes it sound spectacular from the beginning to the end. Please listen to this recording with unbiased ear. Who can ask for anything more?"