This recording has been around for fourty years and now that I’ve acquired it I wonder why I didn’t do so earlier. Still, the plot is uncomplicated, the synopsis adequate, and the cues clear – so if you have a bit of French to boot you won’t be lost. There isn’t, to my knowledge, an alternative version, but with a performance and recording of this quality you won’t need one: the three principals are in magnificent voce – especially Bumbry – and the opera is packed with stirring emotion, lovely melodies and dramatic confrontations. Some of the triumphal music is redolent of “Aida” and Massenet once again manages to do what so many French composers seem to be capable of, and inject an authentic Spanish atmosphere into his score. You would hardly guess that it was a live, concert performance – the Carnegie Hall audience is very well behaved and the soloists sing faultlessly. Both the second soprano, Eleanor Berquist, and the baritone, Arnold Voketaitis, are singers unknown to me but they are estimable artists; she, in particular, has some beautiful music and sings both powerfully and sweetly. But the two not-of-this-world-stars are Mrs Bumbry and Mr Domingo.
The highest possible recommended!
Composer: Jules Massenet
Performer: Grace Bumbry, Placido Domingo, Jake Gardner, Paul Plishka
Orchestra: The Opera Orchestra Of New York
Conductrix: Eve Queler
Number of Discs: 3
DR-Analysis: DR 12
Size: 3.15 GB