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  BMG (Japan) -
  BVCC-34150/2 (3 discs)
  Bizet: Carmen - Karajan (Limited Edition)
  Bizet: Carmen

Leontyne Price
Franco Corelli
Robert Merrill
Mirella Freni
Vienna Philharmonic
Herbert von Karajan (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Opera
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 1

Reviews: 1

Review by Jonty April 19, 2008 (11 of 12 found this review helpful)
This recording was produced by John Culshaw and engineered by Gordon Parry and James Lock in the Sofiensaal in Vienna during November 1963 and was issued the following year in RCA's lavish Soria Series. Decca and RCA had an agreement during the late 50s and early 60s which meant that some RCA recordings were made in Europe by Decca with some sharing of exclusive artists and Decca received distribution in the States.

I had the mid 70s LP reissue and rather wished I had kept it as the original RBCDs were disappointingly dull but the '97 mastering using Apogee UV22 encoding was better. This new DSD mastering from the "original master tapes" is marvelous. It reveals Culshaw's care for staging the opera and the beauty of the now destroyed Sofiensaal acoustic. The booklet is a tiny reproduction of the Soria one with design sketches by Lila de Nobili, illustrations by Dore, essays and complete French/English libretto. The Japanese is mostly confined to a separate booklet.

Karajan's view of the work is one of Grand Opera rather than Opera Comique. So we have the Guiraud recitatives, slowish tempi, and French singers in the comprimario roles only. However it all works and builds to a terrifying final duet. Price is a wonderful smoky Carmen and Freni is a charming Michaela. Merril is just fine as Escamillo and Corelli sings powerfully and occasionally with some subtlety however his French isn't good. Culshaw is quite funny about RCA's attempts to improve it in his book "Putting the Record Straight". If you want something more authentic look for the Cluytens 1950 recording but I love this set.

Sonic rating reflects the quality of the transfer. It sounds what it is, a very good recording for 1963 with gentle adjustments of dynamic range and high loud notes from the singers blooming in the acoustic as they turn their heads to avoid blasting the microphones.

If only RCA had kept more of the Decca/RCA opera sets instead of giving them up to Decca when the agreement broke up then we could have looked forward to the Karajan/Price Tosca on SACD but it isn't to be unless Universal have a change of heart.

This set is expensive but worth it. More please and can we have them issued in Europe too?

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Works: 1  

Georges Bizet - Carmen