The best Verdi Aria Recital I've heard
The Cultural Observer | 03/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Leontyne Price was born in an age when Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Joan Sutherland, and Birgit Nilsson were making headlines as the world's greatest sopranos. If Callas was the dramatic coloratura of her day, Nilsson the Wagnerian, Tebaldi the spinto, and Sutherland the coloratura, Leontyne Price was perhaps the greatest voice ever to touch Verdi's literature. Her full-bodied, flexible lyric voice was one of the most beautiful instruments created for Verdi's Leonoras, Aida, Amelia, and Elvira, and she also excelled in the Puccini that she touched. She was the chosen vehicle to premiere the many works of Samuel Barber, and her interpretation of his Hermit Songs and his Antony and Cleopatra are unrivaled in their vocal opulence and dramatic intensity. Although I must say that I find her Italian to be quite unidiomatic at times (a few appearances of some American vowels here and there), the voice quality is ravishing, the tone melting, and the drama touching. Her excerpts from Aida, a role that was considered to be hers for almost three decades, shows her in secure voice and dramatic involvement. Her Ernani involami, Addio del Passato, and the Macbeth Sleepwalking scene, three selections that were not covered by Price onstage, may not have the requisite qualities that would propel Price as the ideal interpreter of these arias. Nonetheless, her voice and her artistry shine through and keep listeners aware that this artists perhaps would have excelled in them had she taken the time to slip into these roles. The Otello excerpt is a lamentable image of what could have been--Price is simply ravishing and she almost recorded the part with Domingo and Levine for RCA, only to be replaced later by Renata Scotto. We will never get a complete Desdemona from Price, but what we have more than suffices. The Ballo excerpt shows Price lending one of the most vocally ripe interpretations of Amelia's music, making us wish that she had been partnered by more able singers in her recording with Schippers. Lastly, we have the two Verdi Leonoras, parts that Leontyne made her own for the long duration of her career. I think that she is unrivalled as the Trovatore Leonora, and in the Forza Leonora, she only has Tebaldi and Callas as her sole competitors for the crowning glory of this very difficult role. All these excerpts capture Leontyne Price in her prime, devoid of any of that muddy lower register and the scooping mannerisms that would affect her late recordings. I would recommend this recital disc to anyone who wishes to hear the most beautiful Verdi soprano of the last century."
A candidate for the greatest Verdi recital ever recorded
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 07/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's great that a new (2004) remastering gives a new generation of opera lovers a chance to be flabbergasted. Leontyne Price was in her absolute prime here, which means that no one oculd surpass her for beauty of voice, thrilling delivery, and stupendous technique. All of these Verdi arias were made for her voice, even though she never sang Desdemona on stage. This isn't exactly a recital; RCA cobbled the colleciton together from various sources under five different conductors. The three La Forza arias, for example, come from a complete opera recording under Thomas Schippers. All the others, I believe, don't come from complete sets.
The original CD sound was a bit harsh, so even us old hands should seize the opportuniyt to replenish our supply. The only sad note is that another Leontyne Price hasn't remotely come our way since."
Atticus Finch, Brooklyn | Brooklyn, NY | 07/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are no parallels when it comes to Ms. Price's beautiful singing. Her intelligence, keen sense of dynamics, attention to detail when creating a role are all on marvelous display in this rich collection. If you are a novice to opera, here is where you start. However, with this recording, you start at the pinnacle of all opera singing. If you are an aficionado of opera, and if you do not have this recording, then you are missing out on the best. We have God to thank for Ms. Price. Her "Pace, Pace mio Dio" is like no one else's and her other interpretations are just as spectacular. I have listened and re-listened to this album over a thousand times. It has also taught me something invaluable about singing. Get it NOW!!!"