Magnificent Box for the SERIOUS OPERA COLLECTOR
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're just a casual opera buyer, you need not continue reading. This opera set is not for you. If you are into the serious business of collecting opera sets, or if you are a serious opera lover, this set is like dew from heaven. What a magnificent collection of Strauss Operas from the Vienna State Opera from 1933 to 1976!! The remastering is marvellous so that even though most of the items are in mono, the sound is very clear and you can hear everything. You have Lotte Lehmann's Marschallin monologue (she was the creator of the role, by the way) and the presentation of silver rose by Maria Olszewska (Octavian) and Elisabeth Schumann (Sophie). Special mention MUST be made of Ljuba Welitsch's astounding 1948 Salome final scene. She is the only singer that appraoches Strauss' requirement of sounding like a 16 year old with the voice of an Isolde. Her pure silvery voice slices through the orchestra at the climaxes like a razor blade - simply astonishing. And oh, the erotic necrophillic tinge in her voice - it makes you shudder. If you like Birgit Nilsson and Leonie Rysanek in Salome, you have to listen to this. Then we have the Die Frau Ohne Schatten in 1955 with Christel Goltz as Dyer's Wife, Elisabeth Hongen as the Nurse and Rysanek as the Empress. I've heard many Die Fraus but this one stunned me into submission. The orchestra was simply took my breath away with its playing and Goltz was in sensational voice as was Rysanek. then of course, we have Schwarzkopf in the Cappricio monologue, a definitetive performance and Lisa Della Casa in Arabella, a role she owned since 1952. We also get the radiant Hilde Guden in teh 1964 Daphne - an amazing performance. Coming next is Birgit Nilsson's sensational 1965 Elektra - the recognnition scene. Then we get Janowitz's lovely Ariadne auf Naxos in 1976 in superb stereo. Finally we get Christa Ludwig as Octavian from a 1972 and 1971 productions. If you thought that her Octavian with Karajan was good, you should listen to this - she is in sensational voice and goodness, she steals the thunder from her Marschallin (Sena Jurinac). We also get Rysanek as the Marschallin. After listening to this set, I only wish that RCA had released all the sets contained in full rather than in just excerpts. Very highly recommended."