Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

The Very Best of José Carreras
Giuseppe VERDI (1813 - 1901)
Aida (excerpts)

Se qul guerrier io fossi!… Celeste Aida
Pur ti riveggo, mia dolce Aida
La fata pietra sovra me si chiuse

Aida - Mirella Freni (soprano)
Amneris - Agnes Baltsa (mezzo-soprano)
Radames - Jose Carreras (tenor)
Amonasro - Pierror Cappuccilli (baritone)
Ramfis - Ruggero Raimondi (bass)
Chorus of the Vienna State Opera
Vienna Philharmonic/Herbert von Karajan
Recorded 1980
Giuseppe VERDI (1813 - 1901)

O figli, o figli miei! .. Ah, la paterna mano (Macbeth)
Jose Carreras (tenor)
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Riccardo Muti
Recorded 1976
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863 - 1945)

Cavalleria rusticana (excerpts)
Tu qui, Santuzza?
Instanto, amici…Viv il vino spumeggiante
Mamma, quel vino e generoso

Santuzza - Montserrat Caballe (soprano)
Lola - Julia Hamari (mezzo-soprano)
Mamma Lucia - Astrid Varnay (soprano)
Turiddu - Jose Carreras (tenor)
Ambrosian Opera Chorus
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Ricardo Muti
Recorded 1980
Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1858-1919)

Pagliacci (excerpts)
Un grande spettacolo..Un tal gioco, ceredetemi
Recitar!… Vesti la giubba
No, Pagliaccio non son

Nedda - Renata Scotto (soprano)
Canio - Jose Carreras (tenor)
Beppe - Ugo Benelli (tenor)
Tonio - Kari Murmela (baritone)
Silvio - Thomas Allen (baritone)
Ambrosian Opera Chorus
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Ricardo Muti
Recorded 1980
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)

Turandot (excerpts)
Non piangere, Liu
Nessun Dorma

Liu - Mirella Freni (soprano)
Calaf - Jose Carreras (tenor)
Timur - Paul Plishka (bass)
Rhine Opera Chorus
Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra/Alain Lombard
Recorded 1978
Giuseppe VERDI (1813 - 1901) Don Carlo (excerpts)
Io l'ho perduta …Io la vidi
Dio che nell'alma infondere
Perduto ben mio sol tesor

Elisabeth - Mirella Freni (soprano)
Carlos - Jose Carreras (tenor)
Rodrigo - Piero Cappuccilli (baritone)
Monk - Jose van Dam (bass)
Choir of the German State Opera, Berlin
Berlin Philharmonic/Herbert von Karajan
Recorded 1979
Georges BIZET (1839 - 1875)

La fleur que tu m'avais jetée (Carmen)
Charles GOUNOD (1818 - 1893)

Quel trouble inconnu me pénètre…Salu! demeure chaste e pure (Faust)
L'amour, l'amour…Ah! lève-toi, soleil (Roméo et Juliette)
Source délicieuse (Polyeucte)
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)

Ah! tout est bien fini…Ô Souverain, ô juge, ô pêre. (Le Cid)
Ce monde que je vois..Ah! qu'il est loin mon pays (Sappho)
Ne pouvant réprimer les élans…Adieu donc, vains objects (Hérodiade)
Jacques -François HALÉVY (1799-1862)

Rachel! quan du Seigneur (La Juive)
Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791 - 1864)

Pays merveilleux… Ô paradis (L'Africaine)
Edouard LALO (1823 - 1892)

Puisque'on ne peur fléchir…Vainement, ma bien-aimée (Le Roi d'Ys)
Jose Carreras (tenor)
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden/Jacques Delacôte
Recorded 1985
Jacques OFFENBACH (1819 - 1880)
La Périchole (excerpts)

Le conquérant dit à la jeune Indienne
Vous a t'on dit souvent
Et là maintenant que no somme seuls
On me proposait d'être infâme

Teresa Berganza (mezzo-soprano)
Jose Carreras (tenor)
Toulouse Capitole Orchestra/Michel Plasson
Recorded 1982
EMI CLASSICS 7243 5 75903 2 7 [2CDs: 77.27+77.45]


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The problem with compilations like this is that they are never quite what they say on the box. For a start, few 'Best of…' sets actually admit that the selection is limited to those recordings that the record company either owned or could get rights to. So this disc is principally a selection of Carreras's recordings for EMI. No bad thing in itself, but couldn’t that have been made clear on the record sleeve. This selection, from the EMI archives, places much emphasis on Carreras's heavier Italian roles. There is nothing from the earlier Puccini operas and more importantly no Italian opera before Verdi. Carreras came to prominence as a protégé of Montserrat Caballe and sang with her in 'Lucrezia Borgia' so to have none of his Donizetti or Rossini is a shame. On the other hand, we do get items from his recording of French arias and a selection from the complete recording of 'La Périchole'. But you get is absolutely no sense of Carreras's eminence in the lyric Italian roles. It is pointless regretting what is missing, we must just accept what it is and enjoy it.

The set opens with a selection from the complete 'Aida' with Mirella Freni as Aida, conducted by Herbert von Karajan. There is no denying that Carreras is an exciting and ardent Radames. But with a running time of 30 minutes, these excerpts seem rather a self indulgence. In fact, nearly all the excerpts on the first disc are substantial. Five operas in all, four of them lasting a total of over 70 minutes. This is all well and good, but in 'Aida' it gives us rather a lot of Mirella Freni's Aida. This was well received in the Gramophone when the recording was new, but I must confess that it had me scurrying back to my Caballe recording. I far prefer her spinto line.

The excerpt from 'Macbeth' is of necessity short - Verdi did not exactly over use his tenor in this opera. But it is beautifully sung.

The sense of an over extended excerpt applies to 'Cavalleria Rusticana' where we have 12 minutes of dialogue with Caballe (as Santuzza) and Julia Hamari. All well and good, but this is meant to be a disc devoted to Carreras. Both the Mascagni and the Leoncavallo excerpts are wonderfully full throttle affairs - Carreras at his passionate best. And his 'Vesti la giubba' is one of the best things in this Set. Neither of his heroines is ideally cast. Caballe does rather lack power in the lower middle register. But, as heard in these excerpts, her contribution is powerful and responsive. In 'Pagliacci' Renata Scotto's Nedda does sound a little mature. These recordings were not uniformly liked when they first appeared, but Turiddu and Canio are some of the best things that Carreras has done on record. So, perhaps, in this case the substantial excerpts are welcome as the complete recordings are not necessarily going to be a key candidate for the library shelves.

The first CD ends with two arias from 'Turandot', taken from the complete recording with Montserrat Caballe in the title role. The recording received mixed reviews when it came out, especially with regard to Lombard's conducting. I must confess that, here and there, I found Carreras a little under-powered; though this might be more the fault of an unsympathetic conductor. But, unfortunately, what will strike the listener most about these two excerpts is the editing. 'Non piangere liu' is cut off suddenly in an unsympathetic manner. But 'Nessun dorma' is worse. It is always difficult to extract this aria from its context, here someone at EMI has had the bright idea of splicing the final chorus, based on the same melody, to the end of the aria. The resulting transition sounds so crass that any pleasure in Carreras's aria is removed.

The second CD opens with 15 minutes of excerpts from 'Don Carlo' from the complete recording conducted by Karajan with Mirella Freni as Elisabeth. In these excerpts, as with those from 'Aida', Carreras and Freni are up against Domingo and Caballe. And, of course, that is the advantage of this set with its substantial extracts. It enables those of us that do not wish to have to invest in the complete Karajan 'Aida' and 'Don Carlo' to be able to appreciate Carreras's art. With 'Don Carlo', hearing excerpts has the added advantage that, language apart, you are not being over worried by which version of the opera is being performed.

Next come a group of French arias from a recital originally released in 1985. This recital was early evidence of Carreras's interest in repertoire away from the standard Italian repertory. You could quite legitimately complain about Carreras's French vowels and the placing of the voice. But we have not been over endowed with tenors singing this repertoire in the last twenty years and it becomes fruitless to lament that, in each new recording, the tenor fails to match up to Georges Thill. The repertoire here is quite enterprising, with a complete Gounod rarity alongside the more well known (but hardly common) arias. Carreras does possess a lovely mezza-voce and uses it to good effect in these arias. Unfortunately he is rather sparing with it and the predominant impression is that the music is rather too strenuously sung. But this group does conclude with a ravishing performance of ‘Vainement, ma bien-aimée’ from ‘Le Roi d'Ys’, which shows just what Carreras can do.

The set concludes with four extracts from the complete Offenbach 'La Périchole', with Teresa Berganza, conducted by Michel Plasson. These are charming and form a delightful (if over-extended) conclusion to this set and are sung in just the right style, with little of the over-strenuous approach which mars some of the other French items.

Robert Hugill

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