Notes and Editorial Reviews
Perhaps no recording of this opera has such a special place in the hearts of opera lovers. There is no doubt that the Karajan/Pavarotti/Freni recording is more ideally put-together; Beecham’s ensemble is sometimes less-than-perfect, and at least once a singer comes in too early. But this set exudes a warmth and presence that makes it almost unbearably moving. It may just be the sheer sound of Victoria de los Angeles’ and Jussi Björling’s voices: each has a plaintive quality that goes straight to the heart. The pair actually sound as if they are singing to one another, and Björling’s whisperings are the definition of poetry. The others in the cast are of the same mind—this is a small story of everyday people—a small tragedy. Beecham’s tempos are much like Karajan’s—just three minutes shorter overall—but it has a chamber quality, an intimacy, that is the very opposite of Karajan’s symphonic approach. One is left shaken at the end.
-- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com [4/2011]
Includes full libretto.