One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Buy through MusicWeb £22.30/21.00/22.20 postage paid.
You may prefer to pay by Sterling cheque or Euro notes to avoid PayPal. Contact for details

Musicweb Purchase button

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924)
Turandot (1926)
Alessandra Marc (soprano) – Turandot; Ignacio Encinas (tenor) – Calaf; Ainhoa Arteta (soprano) – Liù; Erwin Schrott (bass) – Timur; Lluis Sintes (tenor) – Ping; Eduardo Santamaria (baritone) – Pang; José Ruiz (baritone) – Pong; Pedro Calderón (tenor) – Altoum; José Manuel Díaz (baritone) – Mandarin
Coro de Ópera de Bilbao; Escolanía Ntra. Sra. de Begoña (Asociación ars viva)
Orquesta Sinfónica de Euskadi/José Collado
rec. live, Palacio Euskaduna, Bilbao, 21, 24 September 2002. DDD
RTVE 65171 [79:13 + 41:02]

Some months ago I reviewed a DVD with a 2005 production from Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. This was a co-production with Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse and Asociación Bilbaina de Amigos de la Ópera (A.B-A.O.). While visually the Barcelona performance was lavish and had its high points dramatically, it gave little pleasure vocally. The chorus were afflicted with moments of rough ensemble but in the main did a decent job, the minor solo parts were OK, in some cases better than OK, but of the four main soloists only Barbara Frittoli was at all pleasing.

Now here is the same production from Bilbao a few years earlier. It should be mentioned that Barcelona was first out in 1999 to celebrate the reopening of Liceu. When on occasion good visuals and good acting can redeem less than attractive singing, here we have only the sonics to go by. It turns out, however, that Bilbao wins hands down on almost every count. They have a comparable set of singers in the minor roles – only Lluis Sintes’ Ping was in both productions. There is more precision and punch in the Bilbao chorus – indeed they are plainly magnificent. José Collado has an even tighter dramatic grip on the combined forces than the wholly admirable Carella in Barcelona. The recorded sound is impressive and there is surprisingly little in the way of distracting noises. Even the audience at the end of September is blessedly free from bronchitis.

José Manuel Díaz is a dramatic Mandarin – the first voice we hear – and Erwin Schrott, noble, warm and with beautiful timbre, is one of the best of recorded Timurs. He is especially good in the last act – the scene with Liù’s death. We also encounter a splendid Liú in Ainhoa Arteta. She is vibrant and expressive, a heavier voice than one often hears in the role but she is truly endearing in her second aria Tu che di gel sei cinta! Ignacio Encinas isn’t the most ingratiating of Calafs and not always too sensitive to nuance but he is sturdy and powerful. At the end of act 2 he is heavily strained and once or twice painfully flat, but his is at least a more than decent performance and he makes a good stab at Nessun dorma. It lacks in poetry but the applause is rapturous.

It is, however, for Alessandra Marc’s Turandot that this issue is of special interest. I heard her in the role in Paris ten years ago and was deeply impressed – she is even more glorious here. She has the penetrating top notes, dramatic and expressive and never seems to tire. Since Birgit Nilsson’s heyday we haven’t heard a more complete Turandot. What she also has is a certain amount of warmth – even at her first appearance with In questa reggia. This might be seen as a drawback. I remember a review in Gramophone back in 1992 – I believe it was John Steane who, reviewing a recital disc on the Delos label – wrote: "''In questa reggia'' is (I believe) a mistake and probably a dangerous one: there isn't ice in the voice". That it was no mistake, this recording, made a full decade later, is very clear evidence and personally I think that the hints of warmth make it easier to accept the thaw towards the end of the opera. Nilsson’s princess sparkles with polar ice.

Individually there have been even finer readings of the roles in the past: Corelli, Björling and Pavarotti as Calaf; Tebaldi, Scotto and Caballé as Liù and both Giaiotti and Ghiaurov are superb as Timur, but no one in my experience surpasses Alessandra Marc as Turandot in her combination of vocal glory and warmth. Nilsson’s two recordings, with Leinsdorf and Molinari-Pradelli, will never be redundant and the Decca recording under Zubin Mehta with Sutherland in the title role has many good things, even though I find Sutherland less suited to the role than do others.

There are extensive historical notes and a detailed synopsis - not track-related - in the booklet, but only in Spanish, as seems to be the rule with these RTVE issues from Spanish Radio.

Göran Forsling


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount



Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.