Four of the Most Popular Zarzuelas with Great Casts and a Lo
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 05/02/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I know practically nothing about the zarzuela except that it is a form of Spanish light opera, roughly analogous to Viennese operetta but with the indescribable Spanish lilt and color that are so attractive. I had been pleasantly surprised how much I liked a CD a couple of years ago that contained choruses from zarzuelas Preludes & Choruses From Zarzuelas and made a decision to learn more about this form that is so popular in Spanish-speaking countries but so little performed elsewhere. So when this set came my way I was intrigued, no - excited, to get it, especially since it is at budget price. I was not disappointed. María Bayo stars in all four -- Emilio Arrieta's 'Marina', Tomás Bretón's 'La Verbena de la Paloma, and Amadeo Vives' 'Bohemios' and 'Doña Frasquita'. Her voice is very distinctive, perhaps an acquired taste for some, with a bit of an edge (not nearly as much, though, as that of the Golden Age singer, Mercedés Capsir). And she is a consummate actor with the voice. Her singing companions are first-class: Plácido Domingo, Alfredo Kraus, Luis Lima and Juan Pons, among others.
The booklet contains excellent plot synopses and commentary in Spanish, English and French. The libretti, however, are in Spanish only.
The previous reviewer complained about blank pages in the thick libretto booklet; my booklet had no such problems and it was very helpful to have libretti to follow. Inclusion of librettos with opera recordings is, alas, becoming less common that it once was. I only wish there had been translations into English and French.
A VERY WELCOME EDITION
Alfredo R. Villanueva | New York, NY United States | 02/02/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"THIS SET BRINGS TOGETHER FOUR ZARZUELAS RECORDED BY MARIA BAYO WITH JUAN PONS, ALFREDO KRAUS, PLACIDO DOMINGO AND JOSE LIMA RESPECTIVELY. THUS, THE QUALITY OF SINGING IS AT ITS HIGHEST. IT ALSO IS A MONEY-SAVER. IF BOUGHT SEPARATELY, THESE RECORDINGS WOULD COST THREE TIMES AS MUCH. HOWEVER, AFTER SHELLING OUT OVER $50 WITH SHIPPING., IT IS A REAL DISAPPOINTMENT TO FIND OUT THAT THE OTHERWISE VERY INFORMATIVE BOOKLET, WHICH CONTAINS NOTES ON EACH PIECE AND THE LIBRETTOS, IS MISSING EIGHT PAGES OF TEXT, WHICH HAVE COME OUT BLANK IN THE PRINTING! ANOTHER ANNOYANCE: THE RECORDS COME IN SEALED ENVELOPES. HOWEVER, THOSE FLAWS DO NOT DETRACT FROM THE EXCELLENT PERFORMANCES. I WAS NOT PREVIOUSLY FAMILIAR WITH BAYO'S VOICE, WHICH TAKES A BIT OF GETTING USED TO, AND LOOK FORWARD TO MORE OF HER SINGING."