PAVAROTTI Complete Opera Rec. 4832417

. . . a suitably bulky tribute . . . Pavarotti's voice remains astonishingly rich and vibrant for almost the whole half-century span . . .

For arguably the greatest tenor of modern times, I'd say, that's a real deal, and cannot recommend this issue too highly. Especially given there's a 250 page hardback book, with lots of photos, and, where necessary, the older recordings have been remastered to the highest modern standards.

Why not give someone you love Pavarotti for Christmas? You better love them lots though, because this package will set you back about £160. But what a package it is. Thirty-six complete operas, beginning with an early "Bohème" from 1961, and ending with a 1996 "I Lombardi" from New York . . . And it was well worth it. There are also eight duplicates, where Pavarotti opted to rerecord these operas with a fresh, and almost always, improved look. As with his beautifully upholstered 1971 Berlin Bohème with Herbert von Karajan, a total contrast to the 1961 rough-and-ready live recording from Modena. Though that latter one offers a wonderful opportunity to hear Pavarotti before international fame beckoned. The whole package weighs 10 lb ¿ entirely appropriate that a fabulous singer with such a great girth should have one of the biggest boxes around. Pavarotti was the greatest tenor of our time. And it's all here.

. . . [this] box set catalogues Luciano Pavarotti's unique genius . . . an astonishing bargain if you don't already have some of these famous recordings -- and even if you do . . . this "Turandot" set, conducted by Zubin Mehta, with Montserrat Caballé as Liu has always been one or the most admired interpretations on disc . . . [Pavarotti sings "Nessun donna"] with an ardour and pliancy of phrasing that still captivates . . . [in Karajan's "Madama Butterfly" with Miriam Freni,] there is no doubt that the Austrian maestro got special, super-musical performances from his two stars, both at their absolute best . . . the Pavarotti "'face", his commitment to drama expressed through words, remains remarkably intact. We shan't hear his like any time soon.

. . . a voice -- and an artist -- of rare pedigree. . . ["Che gelida manina" is] unfurled with a beauty unmatched in the history of the gramophone . . . [few of Pavarotti's recordings] are more memorable than the nine operas by Donizetti and Bellini -- gems of the bel canto repertory . . . [the humour, charm and impetuosity Pavarotti brought to the best of his stage performances] is generally there in the voice, as we can hear in long-cherished recordings of two of his favourite Donizetti operas, "L'elisir d'amore" and "La fille du régiment". And there are other instances of Pavarotti's theatrical skills, not least an intellectually astute portrayal of Faust . . .

. . . [ce coffret de l'intégrale des opéras enregistrés par le ténor légendaire Luciano Pavarotti] constitue une somme dont la valeur artistique et esthétique demeure essentielle . . . enregistrements exemplaires, proposant toujours des perles lyriques dont il faut écouter et récouter le sens et le raffinement formel . . . le coffret représente à ce jour une somme inestimable pour tout amateur de lyrique, en particulier d'opéras italiens romantiques . . . Must absolu et coffret au très riche contenu . . . idéalement éditorialisé, avec photos, illustrations (des enregistrements) et présentation des ouvrages et intégrales . . .

Au sommet du chant, Decca offre aussi du glorieux: Pavarotti, le ténor qui à lui seul en vaut trois, dans la totalité de ses enregistrements d'opéra. N'y aurait-il que "La Fille du régiment" et des "Puritains" qui ont fait légende, ca suffirait. Mais les Puccini incomparables d'éclat y sont aussi, avec Freni, et aussi le Pavarotti moins juvénile des dernières années. Faites-vous plaisir. Ces aigus rayonnants sur votre hiver, c'est un vin du Bon Dieu!