I have already written a review on this gorgeous recording but seeing a "Callas-Fan" posting invented facts I'm writing another one. First of all: It is said that this performance is "definite". In what way? Technically? As an interpretation? Well, lets begin with with technique: Sutherland indeed sings flawlessly regarding acuti, runs and coloratura. Her vocal problems are her diction, her phrasing and her few vocal colours. This "insane" Lucia sounds the same when she's sane... That of course is a detail, but it is important to me. Here we have it, or not? An interpretation this is not.
"Also, Sutherland's mad scene cadenza's are the most difficult in the world. That is well documented. Her high E's, several of them, are spill- chilling. Hear it, believe it." he so confidently says. Difficult cadenzas are fine... and fantastic to mask an non-interpretation. And the so-called Es are E-flats, and NO, that's not the same. If Sutherland sang Es then she transposed up, hardly tasteful.
No to the Callas-problem the so-called Callas-fan describes so tastefully... Callas DID NOT crack on 50% of every E-flat she sang as Lucia, which recordings are you listening to? Also, on the Karajan-recording she doesn't skip all of them but only the one before the cabaletta because the conductor preferred a "Gentle finish" before the cabaletta. She sings them all in all her other recordings. What is an easy madscene? One that doesn't use cadenzas, overblown fioritura to show off? Callas' madscene is closer to what Donizetti wrote, come scritto there would be no chirping whatsoever anyway, this was all ADDED later. This is no reason to bash Callas, her madscene follows a tradition, and a DAMN GOOD ONE!
"She is no Sutherland!" he then continues. Well, thank God! She's Callas! There is one Callas, one Sutherland, one Sills... so this argument isn't worth a thought. And the so well knowing reviewer doesn't even know how to spell VERISMO, a word EVERY opera-novice knows! That much for his credibility! The next thing is the "beautiful" and "great technique" thing. A)Beauty lies in the ear of the listener B)Callas had a stupendous technique but using her voice to 500% burned her out. And Verdi DEMANDS a secure Belcanto-technique! Leonora has to sing trills and coloratura, as does Lady Macbeth! And they weren't verismo!
Next he bluntly states that comparing Sutherland to Callas is ridiculous, thus "demasking" all those stupid experts like Steane, Kesting, Porter, Fischer etc. who did exactly that. Of course, he, the "Callas-Fan", knows better than those experts. And, surprise, surprise, Callas is still considered as one of the greatest Lucia overall by most of them!
His argument for this presumption is that he's saying this as a Callas- and Sutherland-Fan, my oh my, what a convincing talker, he'd put Marc Anthony to shame!
Next he goes on raving about all the coloratura-tricks, squillo and so forth... But not ONCE does he describe a moment of Sutherland's Lucia that moved him, made him weep... Lucia is like the most tormented gal in opera and all these "reviewers" talk about is technique? WOW!
In one sentence: YES, diction, phrasing and vocal colours are even more important than glowing acuti and flawless coloratura because that you'll get from a machine too. I'm not saying that Joanie sounds like a machine, those reviews create this image! INTERPRETATION and TECHNIQUE...
Now I know that my review will be called "bashing". But, truly, it isn't. I've spent much time and thought on this one. And if the Sutherland-Claque will push it down like 1/69 persons found it useful that only confirms my theory of the claque. If I WERE bashing I'd say: Dull, boring, mushy singing... But that's tasteless...
To sum it up: A brilliantly sung performance, not more and not less.