This two-disc recital draws heavily upon two Caballe recital discs (a Bellini/Verdi recital, and a recital of Puccini arias), with some extra material thrown in. At the end of disc one, there are also some Spanish songs thrown in, a good choice, since Caballe sang these songs extensively in her many recitals.
For Caballe fans that already own the backlist of her recitals, there is not enough here to entice you to buy this new recital, unless you like the unique combination of arias. Tracks 1-5 on disc one are wonderful interpretations by Caballe of Verdian arias. I especially like the one from Macbeth- perfectly executed, with the pianissimi in all the right places. Equally as thrilling is her Tu Che Le Vanita, a dramatic, long aria that shows off the interpretive power she was capable of, when she wasn't in a lazy mood. As for the Ave Maria, I find it curious that they chose to cut the preceding Willow Song. In my mind, you can have a Willow Song on a soprano's recital disc without the Ave Maria, but it seems inappropriate for the reverse to be the case. Personally, I don't think that Caballe has anything on Mirella Freni, who is perhaps the most perfect Desdemona of her era.
I must admit to not having heard Caballe's interpretations of L'Altra Notte and Voi Lo Sapete. To imagine Caballe singing Santuzza really seems like a stretch to me. My favorite Santuzzas are Callas, Bumbry, and Verrett (in that order). Of course, Caballe did sing a lot of roles, and it isn't impossible that she could do justice to the aria, but I just can't imagine it, try as I might. A final selection worth mentioning is the aria from William Tell, from a supreme bel canto recording of Rossini's masterpiece.
Tracks 1-11 on the second disc are culled from her famous Puccini Arias recording, with the exception of In Questa Reggia from Turandot (a role that she would sing very late in her career, as opposed to the more familiar and suitable-for-her-voice role of Liu). What is notable is what didn't make the cut. Listeners will be deprived of her heart-wrenching, powerful interpretation of Sola, Perduta, Abbandonata, with its sinister clarinet obligato. They will also miss out on an enchanting aria from Puccini's little known and rarely staged Le Villi. This is a shame, since the original Puccini Aria disc is currently out of circulation.
The rest of disc two focuses on Bellini, in the form of I Puritani and Il Pirata. Listeners will be treated to both the polacca and the mad scene from Bellini' final opera. Caballe, of course, cannot hold a candle to Joan Sutherland, who was a true coloratura soprano (Caballe was more lyrical), but she isn't bad, either, as Elvira. The Bellini role that would garner her more acclaim was Imogene from Il Pirata. This two-disc recital draws to a close with her divine reading of Imogene's mad scene. This is the stuff of operatic legend.
All in all, minor quibbles aside, this is a great introduction to those not familiar with Caballe's grand art.