PUCCINI Turandot / Sutherland, Pavarotti 4787815
. . . [all three releases] capture the great tenor in his prime during the early 1970's. The sound quality is superb and the entire package (which contains the full libretto with essays about each opera and Pavarotti's career as well as photos taken at the sessions) is treasurable . . . ["Turandot" CD]: Conductor Zubin Mehta, conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra, obviously relishes the music and the exquisite cast . . . [Joan Sutherland] is majestic in the part . . . [the moving Li¨] is the extraordinary Spanish soprano, Montserrat CaballÚ. Even the supporting roles are first-rate: bass Nicolai Ghiaurov as Timur and tenor Peter Pears as the Imperatore . . . ["Madama Butterfly"]: Soprano Mirella Freni was perhaps the greatest Puccini soprano of the late 20th century and ranks in this role with Victoria de los Angeles . . . and Renata Scotto (another wonderful singing actress). Pavarotti makes the hard-hearted American sound charming and delivers a beautiful love duet with Freni. There was probably no better Suzuki than Christa Ludwig . . . ["L'Elisir d'amore"]: Pavarotti's rendition of "Una Furtiva Lagrima" (the most famous aria in the opera) has to be counted among the finest renditions of the piece. Sutherland is amusing as Adina and of course her singing is brilliant . . . These three opera recordings are perfect gifts for opera fans, but buy one for yourself as well.
The "Turandot" is the set that gave the world Pavarotti's rendition of "Nessun dorma" and again he makes a fine impression . . . With a strong cast and conducting of ideal Puccinian sweep by Zubin Mehta, it's the kind of performance you simply wouldn't hear live. The LPO play magnificently and Decca's glorious sound -- especially when heard on the Blu-ray disc -- gives real scale to the panoramic musical picture. One of the great opera recordings.
. . . [the Blu-ray of Decca's] 1973 Turandot surely sounds magnificent . . . The exotic percussion that composer Puccini scored has wonderful presence. The orchestra and chorus tuttis are pretty awesome and the solo voices are well recorded. And what voices -- Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Montserrat Caballe, and Nicolai Ghiaurov, all at the peak of their careers. Condutor Zubin Mehta at his best, too. And Blu-ray has an often overlooked advantage, it can hold more material, so we get the whole opera on one Blu-ray disc, in PCM or DolbyTrueHD stereo with no breaks.
. . . a dream cast headed by Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti . . . the sound quality is clean, vivid and strikingly detailed . . . [Ms. Sutherland's] voice is gleaming and penetrating, and Mr. Mehta draws surprising intensity from an artist who could be stolid. Mr. Pavarotti is in his prime as Calaf. With the sumptuous Montserrat CaballÚ as Li¨, Nicolai Ghiaurov as Timur and, of all people, Peter Pears as the old emperor, this is quite the cast.
. . . [Joan Sutherland] produced a stunning and totally unexpected interpretation . . . Sutherland managed to humanize Turandot and produced plenty of her own vocal fireworks at the same time. There is much more that made this recording legendary in performance and sound. Luciano Pavarotti set a new standard in the recording studio as Calaf. His "Nessun dorma" on this recording became the signature aria of his career. The climax of the Riddle Scene is perhaps even more stunning than his "Nessun dorma" . . . [Montserrat Caballe] floats some truly wondrous "pianissimos" in "Signore, ascolta". Perhaps more important than any single member of the amazing cast, Zubin Mehta conducts the finest recorded performance of Puccini 's colorful and complex orchestral score, aided by demonstration-level audiophile sound . . . There has still never been a recorded "Turandot" with better sound . . . This recording is the best of all by a considerable margin in terms of conducting, cast, and sound. The Blu-ray version is now clearly the one to have if you possess the equipment to play it.
There are a number of ways to get acquainted with this piece, but the best path remains the Zubin Mehta recording featuring Joan Sutherland in the title role alongside Luciano Pavarotti and Montserrat CaballÚ.