If you want CARMEN to sound like an intimate "opera comique" rather than a "grand opera," then this is the recording to buy. The cast of Berganza,Domingo,Cotrubas, and Milnes make a superb team, both in the music and in the dialogue. Berganza makes Carmen's music sound so tasteful and elegant, and there is no lack of character in her performance. Berganza's Carmen is coolly magnetic; one senses that it is because she is an independent woman that Don Jose is both fascinated and frustrated by her. Domingo's singing of the "Flower Song" is especially beautiful, and his mounting rage in the later acts is terrifying (I am chilled every time I hear his line just before he stabs Carmen, "Pour le derniere fois, demon, veux-tu me suivre?" -- "For the last time, you devil, will you come with me?"). Milnes is in wonderful voice as Escamillo. He really makes the "Toreador Song" into a narrative (rather than just a "song hit"), and he is charming and funny in the spoken dialogue (Listen to his line to Carmen in Act II, "J'attendrai alors et je me conenterai d'esperer" -- "Then I'll wait and content myself with hoping".) Cotrubas projects innocence but also spirit as Micaela. As in her recording of LA TRAVIATA, she sings beautifully with Domingo. Last but definitely not least, Abbado brings a truly Spanish feel to this French music. All in all, this is the perfect "opera comique" CARMEN.