Thanks to all the earlier reviewers for convincing me to buy this Decca issue. Everything they said, and more goes for Vissi d'arte: The Magnificent Voice of Montserrat Caballe.
Instead of repeating what others have said, let me tell you that the 14-page booklet in this product is one of the best I have seen. The critique, A Unique Example of Vocal Versatility, was written by Pedro Gonazalez Mira and translated by Susannah Howe. It is well-conceived and intelligent, and one of the best pieces you will ever hope to see in a CD case! The writer starts out with this sentence: "While the idea that a voice can be a victim of its own success may be misleading and not entirely politically correct, it could perhaps be applicable to that of the greatest female singer to come out of Spain in the last century, Montserrat Caballe." If that provocative sentence, alone, does not--well--provoke you to acquire this 2-CD set, be assured that he goes on, delivers the history we all know, but with a twist, and comes back to tie the whole thing to that first sentence. Sigh. Would that all CDs come with this quality of writing.
The booklet also includes 5 candid shots of Caballe that I have never before seen. At least 4 of these are of the Caballe pencil-and-specs variety. There is a precious shot of her with her pencil-gripping hand wrapped around Dame Joan's neck during the Norma recording sessions. You just must see their expressions--a couple of bad little girl sopranos. There is one of her with ubiquitous pencil behind her ear. There is even one of her with Ingvar Wixell during Tosca sessions, and I don't believe I have ever seen a candid shot of him. Believe me when I say I have never seen Caballe and Wixell in the same frame unless he is either torturing her boyfriend or jumping on her.
The music! Oh, the music! There are 19 cuts on CD 1 and 15 on CD 2.