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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 23 March 2011
I sympathise with those who want their Carmen quintessentially French, more in the Opera Comique tradition, with lighter voices, perfect accents and generally more Parisian than Viennese, but this recording provides such a complete dramatic experience that for me, it leaves all the others - and there are an awful lot of them! - in the dust. The only other recording I enjoy as much is even more unauthentic: the beautifully sung, hugely dramatic Karajan reading with Corelli (French worse than Domingo's and without the excuse of at least sounding a bit Spanish), Price (smokey, alluring but very grand) and Merrill (vocalising marvellously without bothering much about characterisation details). You don't have to have seen the film to appreciate this Maazel account but it happens to be one of the very best visual realisations of any opera. Migenes Johnson re-trained her voice to acquire plenty of gutsy chest register without losing the delicacy of her top and she delivers that famous music with some lovely portamenti - not at all vulgar, in my opinion, just properly in character. When all is said and done, Carmen IS a bit of a slut - but a brave and likeable one! I get fed up with already outdated interpretative wisdom that she is, underneath it all something of a lady and should be sung with Gallic understatement; for me, Berganza simply underplays the role while Migenes Johnson gets it right. Domingo sings his best Jose on record; powerful, with a rapid vibrato and some easy, plangent top notes. The surprise for me was Raimondi's Escamillo; I agree with another reviewer that it is the best on disc and the voice sounds truly baritonal - which perhaps explains why I have sometimes found his timbre too light for some of the true bass roles he has undertaken. Maazel's direction is masterly; all the tempi are beautifully judged and the authentic French orchestra, chorus and secondary roles are a delight to the ears. My only slight disappointment is encountered in Esham's Micaela; she sings neatly and expressively but the fundamental tone is thin; I miss the beauty of Te Kanawa's sound in this role. Still, that doesn't really spoil the set; you won't find a better.
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on 29 March 2015
I bought this after this recording was voted the finest 'Carmen' on Radio 3's Building a Library feature. It is easy to see why. This is a sparkling recording. The pace is swift and the orchestra and chorus wonderfully fresh, light and bouyant - it doesn't drag for a moment and the sound quality is so vibrant.

But the crowning glory is a Carmen to die for - the luscious seductive tones of Julia Migenes cannot be bettered - this is a voice tailor made for this role. It is a simply stunning vocal performance, incredibly nuanced and detailed and completely devoid of the matronly heft and overly wide vibrato which infects many performances. I have never heard the role sung with such total immersion in the character. A staggering achievement.

Domingo is at his best (this was 1984) and of the four principals only the Michaela of Faith Esham marginally disappoints with her slightly shrill tone and disconcerting vibrato. But her Act 1 duet with Domingo still sounds gorgeous.

Some listeners might be nonplussed by all the spoken dialogue. But this is the original version with the dialogue intact before the recitatives were later added by Bizet's friend Ernest Guiraud. Hence, this is a more authentic Carmen than many recordings. Also, it simply oozes Mediterranean colour and energy and the sound effects create a total dramatic listening experience.

Overall, this is a magnificent 'Carmen' and you really needn't look further.
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on 28 November 2014
Excellent sound recording and performance of one of the classic operas. The only blemish is that the dialogue parts are recorded as voice overs, which spoils the atmosphere of the performance. All in all, the best recording of Carmen for sound and music enthusiasts for my money.
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on 8 June 2015
I hate to disagree with some eminent Amazon reviewers to say nothing of CD Review but this is not my perfect Carmen. Singing including Micaela superb as is orchestra and chorus when you can hear them. Very subtle direction from the podium.

However the recording. A bit of artistic licence here so please forgive me. I was put in mind of sitting at the back of the amphitheatre at the ROH. Sadly the chorus were stuck in a lift at Covent Garden tube station. And the spoken dialogue was supplied by some irritating people in the row in front of me. OK OK I exaggerate a bit. Well worth buying but you may get as irritated as I.

Ralph Moore likes the RCA Karajan so I have ordered a second hand copy of that. I heard it many years ago and was much impressed. But at present the recording that ticks all the right boxes for me is the stunningly well recorded 1951 Reiner also made for RCA. Fritz got results and how! Everyone on their toes in every bar. So the Giraud recitatives sound a bit odd once you are used to the dialogue but definitely not a significant factor in deciding.
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on 13 April 2015
Hi All: this is a 2CD for the 3 LP Erato release from the early-to-mid eighties. There's a single CD highlights on release by Erato with the orginal LP cover; but this release for a couple more pounds is worth the purchase
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on 22 November 2015
A first rate recording. Never heard better.
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on 22 February 2016
PERFECT...
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on 29 May 2014
My mum loves this and lost her previous copy. She was delighted to get this for mother's day as a replacement.
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