Comedy, Magic and Russian Soul
Ronald F. Payne | Alexandria, VA United States | 01/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you can find it, I highly recommend getting to know Rimski's "Christmas Eve". Years ago I read an Andrew Porter review in the New Yorker that piqued my interest. When I ran across this opera recording I jumped at the chance to become acquainted with this seldom heard opera. I think it's Rimki-Korsakov's most successful opera. It's a little like a cross between "Hansel and Gretel" (witches, magic and folk-like melodies with gorgeous orchestration) and "Elixer of Love" (love-sick,not-so-bright tenor who seeks to win charming, vixenish soprano). Lots of comedy, lots of magic, lots of charm. The singers are wonderfully characterful: no stars, but very able singers with plenty of Russian flavor to their voices. And very good tunes, too!"
Older is better, perhaps
Michael Steinberg | Rochester, NY USA | 04/05/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I certainly agree with the previous reviewer about the quality of the work--it's an enchanting piece and deserves to be in the repertory. (I'd nominate a few more of Rimsky's operas, too, but this one is probably the easiest to sell.) The performance here is adequate, but my preference remains the 1948 recording under Golovanov. The leads are older but far more expressive, and the intensity of Golovanov's conducting is miles better than the slack direction of Yurovsky. If you can tolerate older sound, I'd suggest you Google "rimsky christmas eve gogol" for a treat--the complete 1948 recording on MP3."