PUCCINI: Turandot
Birgit Nilsson (Turandot); Jussi Bjoerling (Calaf); Renata Tebaldi (Liù); Giorgio Tozzi (Timur); Alessio De Paolis (Emperor Altoum); Mario Sereni (Ping); Piero de Palms (Pang); Tommaso Frascati (Pong); Leonardo Monreale (A Mandarin); Rome Opera House Chorus and Orch/Erich Leinsdorf, cond.
RCA LIVING STEREO 82624 (2 disks) TT: 54:06 & 60:55
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VERDI: La traviata
Anna Moffo (Violetta); Richard Tucker (Alfredo); Robert Merrill (Giorgio Germont); Anna Reynolds (Flora); Piero de Palma (Gastone); Rome Opera House Chorus and Orch/Fernando Previtali, cond.
RCA LIVING STEREO 82623 (2 disks) TT: 64:04 & 48:46
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PUCCINI: Madama Butterfly
Leontyne Price (Cio-cio-San); Richard Tucker (Pinkerton); Rosalind Elias (Suzuki); Philip Maero (Sharpless); Piero de Palma (Goro); RCA Italian Opera Chorus and Orch/Erich Leinsdorf, cond.
RCA LIVING STEREO 82622 (2 disks) TT: 60:45 & 68:44
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PUCCINI: La Bohème
Anna Moffo (Mimì); Richard Tucker (Rodolfo); Robert Merrill (Marcello); Mary Costa (Musetta); Colline (Giorgio Tozzi); Philip Maero (Schaunard); Rome Opera House Chorus and Orch/Erich Leinsdorf, cond.
RCA LIVING STEREO 82621 (2 disks) TT: 50:13 & 49:45
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These recordings have figured prominently in opera collections ever since their first LP issues, and RCA is to be commended for releasing them in their mid-price Living Stereo SACD format. Previous CD (and LP) issues were marred by overload and distortion in louder passages, particularly in Turandot. Just about all of this has been eliminated in these new DSD remasterings of the original tapes—these remarkable performances have never sounded better. And the performances are, indeed, remarkable, with strong casting throughout. The dream cast of Turandot could hardly be bettered: Nilsson, Bjoerling and Tebaldi - what more could one ask? Anna Moffo was in her prime at the time (Traviata 1961, Bohème 1961), and remains one of the finest Violettas on recordings. Leontyne Price perhaps isn't ideal for Cio-cio-San, but the glory of the voice is surely present throughout. Memorable issues all, and highly recommended. There are no libretti, but these are available on the internet.

R.E.B. (September 2006)