If you like and want Carmen as the grandest of grand operas this is the set for you without question.
If you like and want Carmen as the grandest of grand operas this is the set for you without question. Even if you don't, you may find it hard to resist the combined assets of Price's smoky, sensual Carmen, Corelli's virile, exciting Jose, Freni's marvellously sung Micaela, Karajan's precisely, sensuously, leisurely yet vital conducting (so much more admirable than on his recent DG version) and, almost most commendable of all, the spacious, natural Culshaw recording.
John Steane in The Grand Tradition (London: 1974), states that Carmen is Price's most important contribution to the gramophone, giving chapterRead more and verse for his view, and I am inclined to agree; it is certainly far superior to her second Aida (reviewed in August). Less genteel than los Angeles (Beecham), less tigerish than Callas (Pretre), more earthy than Berganza (Abbado), less blatant than Migenes (Maazel), Price's Carmen positively insinuates herself into your listening room, a very real and alluring presence, even if just occasionally she just overdoes the ero ticism. As singing, her account of the role marvellously contrasts the light, airy, seductive Carmen of the earlier acts with the fatalistic woman of the last two. Corelli, though his French is distracting (that coach, mentioned amusingly in Culshaw's memoirs, seems to have been employed in vain), gives us one of the most exciting Joses on disc, quite frightening in his agony and frustration in the last two acts, and not without signs of subtlety in the duets with Micaela and Carmen earlier. The heroic, tragic quality in his singing makes one forgiye his occasional liberties over note values. In the finale, Price and Corelli evince an extraordinary animal passion, overwhelming in its intensity. Freni's French can be worrying and she enunciates vaguely, but she sings her aria with a strength and beauty seldom equalled. Merrill is a strong but not very individual Escamillo. The smaller parts are well taken. Of course, we have Guiraud recitatives here, not dialogue.
The playing of the VPO is as excellent as that on any set I know of this work—listen to the sensuous quality of the postlude to Micaela's aria. Karajan, even in 1964, leaned towards slowish, slightly stately tempos, but I didn't feel the stiffening of the arteries of the later set. As I've already suggested, the recording is irreproachable, and It comes up with even more immediacy now on CD. This set must have an equal recommendation with the Abbado (DG), Maazel (Erato/RCA) and Beecham (EMI), all of which present different and valid views of the work.
-- Gramophone [10/1988]
Very grand... Price is a highly dramatic Carmen, Mirella Freni contributes a most sensitively sung Micaëla, and Corelli sounds glorious...
-- BBC Music Magazine
Karajan's RCA version, made in Vienna in 1964, owes much to Leontyne Price's seductive, smoky-toned Carmen... Robert Merrill sings with gloriously firm tone, while Mirella Freni is enchanting as Micaëla.
-- The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs & DVDs [2003/4 edition] Read less
Works on This Recording
Carmenby Georges Bizet Performer:
Leontyne Price (Soprano),
Franco Corelli (Tenor),
Robert Merrill (Baritone),
Mirella Freni (Soprano),
Monique Linval (Soprano),
Geneviève Macaux (Mezzo Soprano),
Jean-Christophe Benoit (Baritone),
Maurice Besançon (Tenor),
Frank Schooten (Bass),
Bernard Demigny (Baritone)
Herbert von Karajan
Vienna State Opera Chorus,
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,
Vienna Boys' Choir
Period: Romantic Written: 1873-1874; France Date of Recording: 1963
Act I: Sur la place, chacun passe
Act I: Regardez donc cette petite
Act I: Avec la garde montante
Act I: C'est bien là
Act I: La cloche a sonné (Chorus of Cigarette Girls)
Act I: La voilà, la voilà
Act I: L'amour est un oiseau rebelle
Act I: Carmen! sur tes pas
Act I: Quels regards! Quelle effronterie!
Act I: Parle-moi de ma mère!
Act I: Reste là, maintenant, pendant que je lirai
Act I: Que se passe-t-il donc là bas?
Act I: Mon officier, c`était une querelle
Act I: Tralalalala, coupe-moi, brûle-moi
Act I: Prés des remparts de Séville
Act I: Voici l'ordre; partez
Act II: Les tringles des sistres tintaient
Act II: Messieurs, Pastia me dit
Act II: Vivat! Vivat le Toréro!
Act II: Votre toast
Act II: La belle, un mot
Act II: Eh bien, vite, quelles nouvelles?
Act II: Nous avons en tête une affaire (Quintet)
Act II: Mais qui donc attends-tu?
Act II: Halte là! Qui va là?
Act II: Enfin, cèst toi!
Act II: Lalalala - Attends un peu, Carmen
Act II: La fleur que tu m'avais jetée
Act II: Non! Tu ne m'aimes pas!
Act II: Holà! Carmen! Holà! Holà!
Act II: Bel officier, bel officier
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Outstanding CarmanFebruary 7, 2014By Harold K. (Camberwell, Victoria)See All My Reviews"This performance recorded in 1964 is of exceptional quality in all regards. Artists, orchestra and choristers shine under the baton of Von Karajan. Stereo separation is excellent."Report Abuse
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