Jane Eaglen has often been touted as the coming great dramatic soprano. However, her recorded work doesn't give people any such impression. Her Turandot on this set is underpowered, unsteady and unfeeling. It's just a cardboard protrayal without any real vocal or interpretative distinction. The other members of the cast perform adequately.
I don't find this recording to be at all satisfactory. The orchestral playing is good enough and Puccini's colorful score gets a vivid, if not truly exceptional reading. Unfortunately, the singing leaves much to be desired. Jane Eaglen's Turandot is underpowered and she sounds like the character's same old haughty self even when she's supposed to be won over by Calaf's love. This is a very one-dimensional and uninteresting characterisation. Dennis O'Neill is caught here past his prime. Some of the high notes (and high lying passages) are rather effortful and the tenor is not in very fresh voice. Mary Plazas gives a tender performance of Liu with some beautifully spin-out high notes. Hers is the best performance of the set. The other roles are adequately taken but it's good of have Gedda as the Emperor.
This performance is recorded in magnificent sound and captures an interpretation full of energy and verve by all performers involved. jane eaglen, above all, our greatest living turandot. the chandos company captures the full beauty and size of her voice ( as it did with her tosca and aida ) unlike any of her sony recordings ( why ? why ? why ? ). this will tide us over until decca FINALLY releases the live metropolitan performance with pavarotti, hong and levine it has been sitting on lo these many years. dennis o'neil, excellent in everything except the big act 3 aria and their the competition is just too fierce. plazas is a good liu and like o'neil maybe lacking that last bit of polish that makes a good singer a great one. and speaking of great singers, nicolai gedda as the emporer, what a treat ! timur, ping, pang and pong all very good. the scene change for act 2 has to be heard ( and felt ) to be believed ( i think my living room floor shuddered )
parry, the conductor, knows how to drive this piece forward and when to take his time and the chandos team captures the chorus and orchestra in extraordinary clarity and sparkle. i have rarely heard an accoustic so spacious and full. all hail jane eaglen ! may she reign for a thousand years !