NILSSON ---- DRAMATIC SOPRANO WITHOUT EQUAL!
L. Mitnick | Chicago, Illinois United States | 04/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To detail individual items here would be an exercise in redundance. Birgit Nilsson, who recently passed away, remains the standard by which Wagnerian sopranos will be judged. True, Flagstad was equally acclaimed, but unfortunately her absolute prime was well before the time when recording studios could do her full justice. While her voice was probably warmer than Nilsson's, she lacked the ease Nilsson had on the top C. Nilsson also had the benefit of stereophonic recording during her vocal prime (which lasted quite a while). I saw Nilsson many times in actual performance, but the one which sticks out in my mind the most is a concert performance of "Salome" with the Chicago Symphony in 1974 under the baton of Georg Solti. The full Chicago Symphony Orchestra at its loudest couldn't cover the Amazonian voice of Nilsson, who sent forth a stream of sound that is still ringing in my ears. Hers was the voice ideal for Wagner, Strauss, Weber, and in a few instances, even Verdi and Puccini (no one today can sing "Turandot" the way Nilsson did!) It was a voice that became more brilliant and powerful as it climbed higher and higher. There are no voices like this today, and opera is the poorer for it. At the price of this disc, how can you possibly pass it up? That is, unless you already have the complete performances from which these excerpts are taken."
The "Salome" excerpt is a must-listen
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 05/06/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This generous (67 min.) budget CD has been cobbled together from various DG recordings. The most welcome snippet for me is the entire closing scene from "Salome" performed live at the Metropolitan Opera as part of a farewell gala for Rudolf Bing in 1972. Bing was a martinet who held no terrors for the strong-willed Nilsson, and here she chose to bestow on him one of the greatest examples of her art. In power, range, drama, and accuracy it exceeds even her stupendous Decca recording, and Karl Bohm's conducting is far less lurid and jolting than Solti's.
Another glory of this disc is the big aria from Weber's Oberon, "Ozean, du Ungeheuer," which Nilsson dispatches in the heroic, proto-Wagnerian style that it deserves. I am much less keen on her three Donna Anna arias from Don Giovanni -- Nilsson is quite shaky in Mozartean runs and trills, and her metallic edge doesn't suit the idiom. She gives a strong performance of Beethoven's concert aria, "Ah, perfido," but the music means nothing to me. Three Wagner excerpts are far more successful (what else would one expect?), including the most familiar snippet here, Nilsson's Liebestod extracted from the famous Tristan under Bohm from Bayreuth.
I imagine that experienced collectors will own several of these items already, but the Salome scene is worth the price of admission if you've never heard it."