Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bizet - Carmen - Obraztsova, Domingo, Carlos Kleiber, Vienna State Opera 1978







Who knew this existed? Yes, it's been in their "vaults", waiting for who-knows-what, and they asked Carlos Kleiber--a "great but difficult man"--if they might release this recording, and he agreed. As suggested, the true value of this set is the elusive Kleiber's leadership. This is a brilliant reading, full of sunlight and very strong rhythms, with quick tempos, no sentimentality, and a string section that slashes away maniacally during the Gypsy Song and third-act knife fight, but caresses Carmen's Habanera and José's Flower Song. The Quintet is taken soCarlos Kleiber Autographed Photo fast that you fear for the ensemble, but there's no need: this show has been impeccably rehearsed and it's as clean as possible. Kleiber even finds a lilting rhythm in the usually dull Smuggler's chorus in Act 3, and the tension in the final scene is almost terrifying, with José's desperation growing out of control. In short, you'll hear much that seems new--or as if you're hearing it anew--with Kleiber at the helm. Elena Obraztsova, even with her covered vowels and outrageously off-key singing in the Gypsy Song, is a splendid Carmen. She offers singing alternately sultry and sarcastic ("Bel officier") and mostly alluring, until she turns gloomy and vicious in Act 3 and unleashes her chest voice. She's never actually subtle, but she's very convincing and always full of personality. And it's likely that Placido Domingo has never been better. The voice is absolutely free and intensely expressive. He and Kleiber clearly inspire one-another. The supporting cast is well-drilled, both musically and dramatically, with no rough edges or inept moments. Needless to say, the orchestra plays gorgeously. This is a remarkable release. I wonder what else is in "the vaults". 


flac, scans


  1. Hi! Very nice - thanks! But the guy who wrote the Review is completely uninformed. This is a very well-known Carmen from the Video/DVD that has always been in circulation from that time. I even saw the televised performance twice on TV. No surprise and nothing hidden in the vaults.

  2. Hello and happy new year!
    Part 4 is missing. Could you reup please?
    Thanks a lot.


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