This is in some ways a near perfect recording - a beautifully simple production, with some great performances, most notably from Kathleen Battle as Zerbinetta who skips through some terrifying coloratura with such ease and spins out notes like spun gold. Jessye Norman gives a particularly individual performance as Ariadne/Prima Donna, bringing a great nobility and deep spirituality to the role, although I'm never sure her voice is quite right for this role (listen to Lisa della Casa's bright, lyrical recording for a contrast!). Tatiana Troyanos offers a powerful Composer, but to my mind tends to sacrifice beauty of tone and diction for volume. So three great female singers in three great roles - Strauss, however, was not so kind to the male voice, and the role of Bacchus is such a trial for any tenor; James King, a veteran towards the end of his career, struggles with the high tessitura and doesn't quite pull it off, looking uncomfortable and straining at times to hold those ringing top notes, resulting in a sometimes dry and reedy tone.
The supporting cast is strong, with a notable appearance by Barbara Bonney, and the orchestra perform well under Levine in the pit. The production is unfussy and simple, and the sets manage to reduce the cavernous Met stage to an intimate chamber-like feel as is right for this opera. The film quality is little lacking, but nevertheless a great recording of a wonderful opera.