Notes & Reviews:
Let the debate be renewed! This Leonard Bernstein 1972 Deutsche Grammophon recording of Georges Bizet's Carmen, with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and starring the great Marilyn Horne and James McCracken fairly strongly divided critics then and afterwards with its daringly slow tempi (which others considered revelatory), a Bernstein trait that mushroomed, for better or worse, over the next two decades. Not up for debate, however, are the spectacular sonics, revealed anew thanks to advances in audio playback technology, which can now be enjoyed via this Pentatone re-release.
American Record Guide, July/August 2015
Pentatone packages the two discs inside a thick, CD-sized hardcover book that includes notes and libretto. If I wanted a Carmen on CD, this would be far from my first choice, considerably behind the recordings starring De los Angeles, Crespin, Callas, Price, Berganza, Troyanos, and even Gheorghiu.
Recording information: Metropolitan Opera House in New York, USA (09/1972).
At first, the pacing seemed just a touch slow, but Bernstein’s pacing allowed him to really bring forth the dynamic tension between Carmen and Don Jose, as well as the longing of Micaela to have her Don Jose back. Marilyn Horne does a fine job as Carmen, although where she really shines is in the Tavern when she shrieks at Jose when he declares that he needs to rejoin his regiment after getting out of prison. You can hear the fire coming out of Horne’s Carmen, and it is spectacular. And McCracken’s soft longing tenor voice is just perfect for the emotional needs of the role. Ms. Maliponte also deserves high marks for bringing forth sympathetic emotional feelings for Micaela, and further enhancing the tragedy that is to come as Don Jose chooses an understandable but ultimately dark and painful path.
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra is outstanding (what else is new?), and Mr. Bernstein does a masterful job of keeping the piece flowing and emotionally engaging, while at the same time letting each singer shine when it is their turn in the spotlight. While nothing compares to actually seeing a captivating production of Carmen in person, this recording is a fine addition to my collection, and is strongly recommended.
Submitted on 08/03/15 by KlingonOpera
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Works DetailsBizet, Georges : Carmen, opera
- Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
- Ensemble: Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
- Running Time: 83 min. 1 sec.
- Period Time: Romantic
- Form: Opera/Operetta
- Written: 1873-1874