TWO PERFORMANCES IN ONE, CAN IT GET BETTER; STAY TUNED
L. E. Roberts | Escondido, CA | 04/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I loved it. The "bonus performance" with Grace Bumbry and Richard Tucker was the reason I bought the album. My mother was a Grace Bumbry fan from the early years (about 1960) and that was where I first heard "Mon couer s'ouvre a' ta voix." It ranked with hearing "Art of the Prima Donna" by Sutherland or the "Blue Album" by Price for the first time. Grace Bumbry had a mezzo that was superlative. To be able to listen to both performances is a great boon. Samson et Dalila is a great, but neglected masterpiece. Heroic (if I may use the term) Mezzos are a neglected art form, in my opinion.
THE CAVEAT - My favorite performance will always be Rise Stevens and Ramon Viray from 1960. The vibrancy and passion in that recording are mind-blowing. Does that mean not to get the reviewed recording? No, a hundred times no!!! Do you hate Mirella Freni for singing Juliet when you preferred Bidu Sayao? No, a hundred times no. You listen to your favorites and other recordings over and over and decide who does better. Maybe Rise does better here and Grace better there. I hope that both would be flattered in the comparison.
Rise is with us no longer, Grace is. It doesn't really matter. They are both great recordings, and buy them both for the incomparable music. It's great to have several recordings of Boheme, Butterfly, and Aida, and compare them.