D. R. Schryer | Poquoson, VA United States | 10/26/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although not as well known as some other of his operas, such as Aida and La Traviata, Don Carlo is a major Verdi opera. And it is treated as such in this recording. For one thing, the opera is presented essentially complete -- including the first act which is omitted from many recordings and performances. Everything about this recording is done well. The conducting and singing are very good and Millo -- perhaps the greatest dramatic soprano to emerge in decades -- is oustanding, as is Ramey. If you like big dramatic operas and you're not yet familiar with Don Carlo you would be doing yourself a favor to get this recording."
Not a first choice Don Carlo but don't overlook it.
Armindo | Greece | 06/22/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A few years after his impressive staged Don Carlos recording at the MET, Levine gathered some of the best singers of the early 90s hoping to create an equally great studio recording. Well, the result is not nearly as idiomatic as his earlier effort but it's still a valid and noteworthy Don Carlos. Levine's orchestra is now even more dominating and occasionally too loud. It would have worked wonders if there was only the orchestra but he sometimes forgets the singers and simply overpowers them. Michael Sylvester in the title role was a pleasant surprise. Though never matching Bergonzi's or Domingo's musicality or perfect Italian, Sylvester is rarely - if ever - a bland Don Carlos. He also has a brighter, easier top than both of the aforementioned legendary tenors which offers interesting outbreaks. While watching Levine's earlier video Don Carlos, most purists note that a bigger voiced Elisabetta than Freni is needed and Millo, the most promising spinto of that time, is often mentioned as the one who could have pulled it off. And here she is! Stronger than Freni, fresher than the past-her-prime Tebaldi, more involved than Caballe. I like her strong middle voice, the warm low notes and the often impressive high ones. On the downside, she too often looses control of her vibrato and some of the highest notes are squally. I generally have mixed feelings about her singing here. She does however convey the Queen's sadness effectively.Dolora Zajick, acknowledged as THE dramatic mezzo of our time is an Eboli with great high notes and equally superb lower register. This is indisputably a great role for her. Perhaps Levine is also to blame but I didn't find her as exciting as her predecessors. I bet Levine had great expectations about his baritone and basses. Chernov is much better than Levine's earlier choice (Quilico), both dramatically and vocally but I'm still not impressed enough. Moreover, just like Sylvester and Zajick his Italian is seldom convincing. Furlanetto and Ramey are a great asset to this set though the performances of Ghiaurov and Christoff still haunt me. As for the minor roles here, these are luxuriously cast!Don Carlos is such a complicated and wonderful opera. One recording is never enough so if you already have the earlier recordings give this one a listen."
Awesome and dramatic
William J. Coburn | Basking Ridge, NJ USA | 04/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have seen the Met's production of Don Carlo twice, ironically both within a week. A production of Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos had to be cancelled within a few hours of the performance; the lead soprano was indisposed, her sub was ill and the company could find no one to replace her. So Don Carlo was quickly mounted and did not start until an hour and a half later than this long opera would normally have begun. I did not get back to my home in New Jersey until four in the morning, and I could not have cared less. This was one of the most thrilling performances I have ever attended of any opera or play. I already had a ticket for a performance the next week; it had a different cast, but as good as it was, it was not the equal of that first one. It had an urgency and sweep to it that made it special, probably because Levine and his cast were all so enthusiastic about what they were doing. Is there anything on CD as good as that special night? Yes, it's this performance conducted by Levine. Aside from Paul Plishka, the singers are different but just as good, and so is Levine. He is the best Verdi conductor the U.S. has ever produced. I have heard quibbles about the sound, but I have heard the same stuff about Levine's vivid recording of Eugene Oneigin on DG. Opera is drama; it only works well if it is thrilling, just as Shakespeare's plays are first and foremost dramas and not just poetry. This recording has it all, including Michael Sylvester as Don Carlo and Samuel Ramey as the Grand Inquisitor. James Morris played that role at that wonderful performance and Samuel Ramey is just as chilling. The whole cast give committed and memorable performances."
Simply the best
Papageno | Budapest, Hungary | 05/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD is one of the best all-round Verdi opera records of our time, made by the strong Metropolitan forces, the old-timer Verdi expert James Levine and soloists as good as Ferruccio Furlanetto, Michael Sylvester, Vladimir Chernov and Metropolitan Verdi heroine Aprille Millo. There are several excellent Don Carlo CDs, and therefore it is not an easy task to choose, but if you really like the sometime agressive, sometime beautiful orchestra sound, the dark bass of Furlanetto, or perfect record quality, then this is the version you are looking for."