LIKE HEARING "CARMEN" FOR THE FIRST TIME!,
By A Customer
This review is from: Carmen Comp (Frn) (Audio CD)
I stopped listening to "Carmen" years and years ago because I was, quite frankly, totally sick of it. Owning the famous recordings by Rise Stevens, Solange Michel, Leontyne Price, Maria Callas, Titiana Troyanos, etc, I gave most of them away, keeping only the wonderful de los Angeles EMI version (now available on EMI's Great Recordings of the Century). I was perfectly content to live with this single recording. I mean - after forty years of opera going and record buying, what could "Carmen" ever do for ME? Nothing, I thought, and I just left it alone.
I received this recording of "Carmen" for my birthday, and reluctantly, I opened it and put it on. I was immediately stunned by Abado's tempi and the sheer sound of the orchestra. The French dialogue was crisp and peppy, and the choral work was stunning. Placido Domingo's Don Jose was known to me, as I heard him do the role with Lyric Opera of Chicago years ago, but I didn't remember him sounding quite this wonderful. His Flower Song would melt a stone, and his singing throughout is sympathetic and very moving. Sherrill Milnes does not really have a very big role here -- he sings his Torreador Song well, and sings with sufficient ardor to arouse Carmen, which is basically what he's there for. Micaela is sensitively sung by Cotrubas, and she blends beautifully with Domingo in their first act duet ---- also, she sounds genuinely terrified in her third act aria.
Now to the sublime Teresa Berganza. Quite plainly, I have never heard the role of Carmen sung so beautifully. The sheer sound of Berganza's magnificent voice is truly something to experience. It cannot be described. She is a patrician Carmen ----eschewing all of the traditional gypsy spitfire teeth gnashing -- and creating a beautiful portrait of a free spirit whose voice is as beautiful as she is. No Carmen I have ever heard --- the great Victoria de los Angeles included -- has ever sounded like this. Berganza is a great artist, and not even her beautiful work in Rossini and Mozart prepared me for the sheer beauty of her Carmen. Aided and supported by Abbado, who shapes the score in a completely new way, Berganza has made me completely re-evaluate this opera ---- and that is no small feat.
This is a recording to own, cherish, and play --- over and over again. It's a jewel of a recording.