Not the best compilation CD
V. Chau | San Diego, CA | 12/03/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This compilation CD from Decca has selections that are either hit or miss. The selections here have both serious arias and comic ones. Leo Nucci is a loud, hammy Figaro in "Largo al factotum". He is deafening on the first syllable of the last "città" in the aria. Joan Sutherland is a vocal miracle in "Bel raggio lusinghier". She chooses fiendishly difficult embellishments for the cabaletta and sings them effortlessly. She ends the aria on a massive high note. This selection comes from her "The Art of the Prima Donna" recording. Marilyn Horne does a disservice to Rosina's wonderful aria "Una voce poco fa". Unlike in her studio recording of "Bel raggio lusinghier", she does not abuse rubato extensively in this aria. However, her frequent use of her ugly, baritonal chest register is completely out of place in this aria. She has the nerve to end the aria using her deep chest voice! The last word in the aria, "giocar," is scary! On a side note, she interpolates an effective soft laugh in the aria. Luciano Pavarotti sings "Non mi lasciare, o speme di vendetta...O muto asil del pianto" from "Guglielmo Tell" very well. His numerous high C's are wonderful to hear. This aria was recorded at the very beginning of his vocal prime. His silvery tone is in full evidence. This particular recording of the aria does not come from his full recording of "Guglielmo Tell" with conductor Riccardo Chailly. Teresa Berganza sings very well in "Nacqui all'affanno...Non più mesta" from "La Cenerentola". She has a beautiful, but small, voice. She dispatches the aria's fiendish roulades without a problem. Her Cenerentola is characterized nicely. Joan Sutherland appears again in Fanny's aria from "La Cambiale di Matrimonio" (The Marriage Contract). There is not that much coloratura in this aria. Sutherland sings very well in this selection and even manages to characterize Fanny nicely! Her diction is very good here. Her luscious, golden voice is a delight for the ears. Marilyn Horne also appears in another selection. She sings Desdemona's Willow Song from Rossini's "Otello" very well, but I don't sense any of Desdemona's anguish in her singing. She also omits the two trills on the word "ruscelletti". The recitative to this aria is omitted. To hear an excellent version of this aria, listen to Jennifer Larmore's version on her "Amore per Rossini" CD. Nicolai Ghiaurov makes a scary Basilio in "La calunnia". He sings the aria superbly and does an excellent job of conveying Basilio's menace and insinuations. The microphones are barely able to capture his huge voice at the aria's climaxes. Renata Tebaldi sings "S'allontanano alfine...Selva opaca" from "Guglielmo Tell". This aria ought to be perfect for her, but listening to her sing it is a trial. She is deafening! Also, Alberto Erede's fast tempo for the aria just ruins its lyrical appeal. Also, the aria is sung in Italian. It sounds considerably better sung in its original French, even though Tebaldi's Italian diction is sharp as a knife. Montserrat Caballé's rendition of this aria from her complete studio recording of "Guillaume Tell" is positively gorgeous. Her pianissimos are ravishing in this aria. The final selection on this CD is the Act One finale of "L'italiana in Algeri". Rossini's music is wonderfully evocative of the silly situation that is taking place. The various singers imitate the sounds of a bell, a hammer, a cannon, and a crow in the final section of the finale. It is quite funny to hear the noises they make. All the singers sing well in this selection.Decca supplies notes, texts, and translations. The sound on all the selections is good, but the sound of the selection featuring Renata Tebaldi does show its age.If Leo Nucci, Marilyn Horne, and Renata Tebaldi had been left out, I would have given this CD my highest recommendation."