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A "Must-Have" For Any Opera Lover
on 27 October 2001
Well, this is a compilation CD with a difference!
From the moment it arrived, I have been, quite literally spellbound.
Weeks later, after many (and that's many indeed) playings, it's not remotely possible to select "favourites". So wonderful are the renditions presented here, so beautifully moving is track after track, that it would be sheer folly to try to pick out one or two as favourites.
It's a delightful (and unusual) experience to enjoy a composite CD to this extent.
The compilers of this CD have done an excellent job in presenting a wonderfully diverse range of listening pleasure. How delightful to hear the fabulous purity of Bjorling included; how wonderful to hear Mirella Freni, as Butterfly, as she makes "Un Bel Di" a definitive performance (small wonder that von Karajan said that, if could be born as an opera singer, he'd choose to be Freni); how delightful to hear Andrea Bocelli there, up with 'the greats' (one can understand full well Pavarotti finding it hard to accept that he had not benefited from classical training); as for Renata Tebaldi with "O Mio Babbino Caro" - it's hard to find the words.
Looking at duets: well, "Flower Duet" is all that it could be, especially with the richness of Joan Sutherland at her best; as for "O Soave Fanciulla" with Pavarotti and Freni: this has to be as good as it gets.
But, there's so much more. I could go on (and on!), and it's a shame not to mention many more.
There are arias here that I have known and loved for years. I have never heard them sung better. Differently, yes; not better.
With Pavarotti, with Renee Fleming (Ah, her rendition of "O Silver Moon" is nothing other than transfixing), with Angela Gheorghiu as Mimi (utterly heartbreaking), with Domingo singing "E Lucevan Le Stelle" (surely, yet another definitive performance), with so many more - this is a CD that I truly regard as the best money in purchasing a CD that I have ever spent.
The Greatest Opera Show On Earth is simply a wealth of listening delight. It certainly carries my firmest recommendation.
Just the one "health warning": with arms and legs covered in goose bumps and with the hair on the back of one's head standing out, don't forget to keep some tissues handy for the eyes!
Adrian F. Van Neste