Collection: Montserrat Caballe

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Tu puniscimi
PERFORMER: Montserrat Caballé
CATALOGUE NO: 421 892-2 DA ADD/DDD

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Purists often turn up their noses at ‘bleeding chunks’. But when they are of this quality then caution is called for. To hear the young Pavarotti and Sutherland (most of these recordings were made in the early Seventies) singing the duets from Lucia, Maria Stuarda and I Puritani, amongst others, is a joy. Their ease at the top of the voice and their strong delivery is matchless. Montserrat Caballé (again recorded over a decade ago) was also in fine voice.

She starts with a superb account of ‘Tu puniscimi’ from Luisa Miller and then sings (sortie with Pavarotti) excerpts from Norma and Turandot. Domingo’s artistry is graphically illustrated on this CD. Excerpts from three hugely contrasting operas (Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Carmen and Lohengrin) demonstrate the breadth of roles the tenor can undertake. He is in superb form for the closing scene of Hoffman and ‘La Fleur que tu m’avais jetée’ is strongly sung. The Lohengrin greatly benefits from the experienced handling of Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic.

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But Domingo brings to the role an urgency which is whole-hearted. I derived much pleasure from the two CDs of mixed excerpts. In ‘Opera Gala!’ Corelli sings ‘E lucevan le stelle’ from Tosca with expert precision, Bjorling gives a resolute account of ‘Amor ti vieta’ from Fedora, and Elena Suliotis breathes fire and brimstone into an aria from Nabucco. ‘Favourite Italian Opera’ has a gorgeous rendering of the ‘Celeste Aida’ by Carlo Bergonzi, a divine ‘O mio babbino caro’ from Renata Tebaldi, and ends with Pavarotti belting out ‘Nessum Dorma’ as he alone knows how. Alasdair Steven