Rossini: Semiramide - Sutherland, Horne, Cross, Carringer, Malas; Bonynge. AOS, 1964
Listen to a Sample:
Before I go any further, I want to disclose that the sound on this recording is far from perfect. There are some noisy audience members, a few drop-outs and the overture is missing altogether. That said, if you can will yourself the patience to forgive these faults, your prize will be some of the most astonishing singing in the history of opera! Joan Sutherland's voice is absolutely flawless in the title role. It is hard to imagine a singer whose coloratura is so precise even at break-neck speed, whose soaring high notes seem as effortless and whose cantabile singing could stop the show. She is joined by her frequent collaborator Marilyn Horne. Although Horne also possessed a technique that gave her remarkable control over even the most treacherous coloratura, she was a very different artist than Sutherland. Whereas Sutherland's voice was ethereal, Horne's was more earthy. But when the two sing together (as they do in the clip below) it is as if they are one mind and one throat. The two singers were keenly attuned to one another and achieve a level of ensemble rarely seen, especially between two stars. It is hard to imagine a better version of Rossini's masterpiece.