Caballe at Her Most Ravishing

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Gianfranco Masini, cond. Schicchi, Manon Lescaut, Turandot, Tosca, Bohème (2) (1975). 26m. B&W.

The audience explodes with wild shouts of ecstasy–and no wonder! Her voice never had more allure.–Stefan Zucker

“Video of the Week:

“If you love Puccini’s soaring melodies and a superbly floated soprano, Spanish diva Montserrat Caballé is hard to beat. In the newly released video Caballé at Her Most Ravishing, the soprano sings six arias from La Bohème, Tosca, Gianni Schicchi, Manon Lescaut and Turandot. She’s no Callas–dramatic expression was never a strong suit. But when she swells the last note of ‘Signore ascolta’ from a pianissimo to a perfect-and-pure forte, she brings the house down.”–Jeff Bradley, Critic-at-Large, The Denver Post

Alan Blyth, Reviewing in Gramophone

“This tape finds the diva by and large at the peak of her powers–though the opening aria, ‘O mio babbino caro’ isn’t free from the occasional flatness–so we hear the familiar Caballé traits of creamy tone, effortless floated pianissimo notes and finely judged portamento even if the last is sometimes carried to excess. On the other hand, hearing so many Puccini arias, taken out of context, one after the other, has never been the best way of promoting his art. No matter: this is a much-loved diva on home ground entertaining her many, many admirers who aren’t concerned with dramatic truths, only wanting to hear their favourite pleasing herself and her audience.

“Truth to tell, much as I admire Caballé’s finely honed tones and sympathetic manner I did find these readings, under a conductor obedient to her every whim, self-indulgent, even mannered by the highest standards of Puccini interpretation. Favero as Liù, Bori or de los Angeles as Mimì, Callas (or Caballé herself in complete recordings under stricter conductors) as Tosca or Manon Lescaut make a simpler, less adorned effect by singing the music slightly quicker and virtually free of mannerism. Still, as a visual record of Caballé in concert this has its place in video history.”