Bizet: Carmen (In Italian) - Simionato, Corelli, Scotto, Bastianini; Molinari-Pradelli. Verona, 1966

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Here we have Franco Corelli at the height of his powers. Other recordings of his Don José are marred by his poor French, but here, singing in his native language, he is allowed to let loose his powerful instrument in an absolutely thrilling fashion. He is matched passion for passion by Giuletta Simionato's fiery gypsy, heard to her best advantage in a sultry Seguidilla and a powerful final duet. Renata Scotto is among the best Micaëlas ever recorded, and succeeds in the herculean effort of making her almost as interesting as Carmen. The rest, lead by Ettore Bastianini's bluff, thrillingly-sung toreador, are strong. The performance is miked from the stage very closely, and often the orchestra (lead rather ponderously by Francesco Molinari-Pradelli) is hard to hear. Purists take note: there is a ballet sequence interpolated into act four featuring plenty of foot-stamping flamenco. It's totally inauthentic, but it's fun. And that about sums up this performance in a sentence.

OD 11048-2

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