I waited long for this release and got it the very first day it became available. This set deserves an average of at least three stars, so I gave it five in hopes to offset the despicable one-star ratings given by others. Those rating this recording so low offer poorly supported justification for doing so and take it upon themselves to tell the great artists represented here what they should or should not do. The set is, perhaps, not outstanding, but there's definitely much to admire here. First and foremost, it is Richard Bonynge's imaginative energetic conducting and also the wonderful, very detailed choruses. The opera's title is "Ernani", not "Elvira", so discussing it we need to focus on Pavarotti first. Despite all the negative criticism leveled upon him, his singing here is exciting and charismatic. Perhaps his voice and acting are not as "dramatic" as the role requires, but he handles it well, easily going for the repeat in the cabaletta "O Tu Che L' Alma Adora". His Ernani is more a lover than a hero, but it only shows one of the most fascinating aspects of Verdian music - its ability to give a character a three-dimensional view by allowing for singer's individuality. Each thoughtful interpretation is no less valid. Dame Joan Sutherland refused to just rest on her past laurels, which is quite admirable. Also admirable is the fact that she was looking to expand her acting abilities; not just focusing on beautiful singing alone, Sutherland tried to go more "in depth" and convey the feelings and fears of her rather multifaceted heroine. She also makes a conscious attempt to correct her pronunciation and diction clarity for lack of which she has been criticized even during her best years. Those who expect the kind of "vocal pyrotechnics" she had displayed in "Rigoletto" and "Lucia" will be disappointed buying this set, but those with respect and admiration for her artistry won't be. Supporting roles are well cast. Burchuladze's very deep basso may not sound "evil enough" for Silva, but his emphasis is on portraying a proud and offended old man and he does it well. I found some similarities with Siepi, but this could be a subject of disagreements. Leo Nucci sounds surprisingly animated and robust as Carlos. Nucci's fairly light but vibrant and flexible baritone nicely accentuates Carlos' peculiar "change of heart". Seems as the complicated roles like this one or Renato in "Un Ballo" bring out the best in him. As for the matter of "bel canto" singing mentioned by others, pointing to "La fille du regiment" is rather pointless, these two operas are definitely not in the same league when it comes to musical characterization, complexity and subtlety. Comparing "Un Giorno" or "I Lombardi" to Donizetti's operas indeed has some merit, but when it comes to "Ernani", such comparisons fail: you cannot possibly want it to be approached in the same way as Donizetti's charming but pretty shallow comedy. Perhaps, the top "Ernani" choice is the superb "Domingo/Freni/Bruson/Ghiaurov/Muti collaboration, sadly not available any more in this country. There's also a set with Bergonzi, who, all his abilities when it comes to detailing aside, lacks low register and power. Carreras recorded an incredible "Come ruggiada al cespite" but I am not aware of a complete recording. Out of several live recordings, the one with Del Monaco, Cerquetti, and Christoff stands out, but, alas, you are forced to listen to the audience's inevitable noise too. This set, with its untarnished complete score and, once again, fantastic conducting, can stand its ground. Amateur critics, shame on you. Verdi fans are in for a treat.