Generally I have given up on reviewing products on amazon as it's a thankless task. I was moved to change my mind this once because of the earlier review. This is without doubt the finest Carmen I have seen or heard. I have about 10 other recordings and have seen it live about 6 times. None had the electricity of this performance, the speeds are just right and everyone else is wrong! (I know! my opinion!) The singers superb and just listen to the Toreador's song as an example of the stunning production. The surround sound now available adds greatly to the experience. Listen for yourselves and try to do so as if listening for the first time.
Another wonderful addition to the REMASTERED CLASSICS. Lenny's approach of Bizet's "Carmen" is historical in every ways. His tempo choices were surprising: sometimes he used traditional tempi and the other tempi - for example the opening Prélude - were much slower than normally. I think that 4.0 surround sound - the quadraphonic recording - reaches the best results in operas. I mean that it really works with operas. It awakes the famous stories to the full bloom! This recording was a good example. There were many sound effects - the off-stage voices and knockings, for example - and they all were captured thrillingly at the original quadraphonic tapes. There were also a dreamy cast. Marilyn Horne was cool and sexy gypsy; her voice was always strong and convincing. James MacCracken was emotional and sensitive Don José. The other singers were also very good. The discs were packaged beautifully: they arrived with the hardcover book (nearly 200 pages). As Pentatone says: "Sit back and enjoy". Highly recommend, absolutely.
Let's face it, whatever your feelings about this recording and how glorious a singer Horne is, it cannot hide the fact that Bernstein hampered this recording forever by making it so slow. It is so infuriating and I have never been able to get past me screaming at the speakers, speed the tempos up. Unfortunately, this leaves us with an interesting recording, but only ever a second, third or fifth choice between the many versions available of Carmen.
This recording is probably aimed at Americans who get misty eyed at former singers at the Met and do not mind the park and bark style of singers like McCracken.