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54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Turandot
Though this recording is generally highly rated, the ease and arrogance with which a few reviewers have dismissed this historic performance leave one perplexed and saddened, wondering if perhaps Amazon's customer rating system is such a great thing after all.

Granted, the technology behind this early stereo recording is often less than exemplary, and the...
Published on November 28, 2007 by R. M. Simmons

versus
5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Orchestra is in its own world
I have been looking for a really good recording of Turandot and in so doing I have been collecting a few disappointments. This recording is one of them.

I have the Pavarotti/Sutherland copy and though Pavarotti does a real good job, in my opinion the rest of the cast falls short. Sutherland's style is not appropriate, Liu's sad music seems too cheerful...
Published on March 7, 2008 by Neil Short


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54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Turandot, November 28, 2007
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This review is from: Turandot (Audio CD)
Though this recording is generally highly rated, the ease and arrogance with which a few reviewers have dismissed this historic performance leave one perplexed and saddened, wondering if perhaps Amazon's customer rating system is such a great thing after all.

Granted, the technology behind this early stereo recording is often less than exemplary, and the various LP pressings and CD issues have varied in quality. The current reissue seems as good as we are likely to get any time soon.

Despite these shortcoming, I really do wonder if some of the less than enthusiastic reviewers really understand what they are hearing when they hear these voices.

Certainly we have a wealth of great voices today, but there is no denying that with our global community, voices are beginning to sound more and more the same. This recording documents a different era, when regions and nations produced a unique sound.

This recording is a living testament to a time when Scandanavian voices (Nilsson and Bjoerling) rang free and open-throated with a particular brilliance in the upper register; when Italian sopranos (Tebaldi) sang with an exciting blend of Italianate bite and Mediterranean warmth and hue; when sopranos often produced pianissimos not by a mere reduction in volume, but by producing an uncanny, disembodied tone that floated. Listen to the confrontation between Turandot and Liu near the end of the opera to hear Tebaldi and Nilsson both produce this striking sound. The soft, warm tones seem suspended in space. Milanov could produce this sound; so could Caballe.

For this performance I can only feel gratitude. No one can objectively say that these roles have been performed better by other singers. Many, myself included, would insist that these performances are unsurpassed, perhaps even unequalled. At any rate, we are the beneficiaries of these great artists who, during the hot Roman summer of 1959, not only left behind a classic performance of this great work, but who also preserved on disc one of the greatest tributes to a great era of singing--an era that can only accrue in legend with each passing year.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turandot, third time around, January 4, 2007
By 
Thomas M. Hines (Birmingham, Alabama USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Turandot (Audio CD)
Puccini's final opera, Turandot, with an outstanding cast (Jussi Björling, Birgit Nilsson, Renata Tebaldi, Giorgio Tozzi, and Mario Sereni as principal singers) and illustrious conductor (Eric Leinsdorf) has now been released for the third time in Super Audio version (supplanting the Living Stereo version of a few years back). To the untrained ear, so to speak, there appears to be little difference between the two recent versions; nonetheless, the Super Audio (played on a SACD,5.1 chanel system) captures the nuances and dynamics of both orchestral and vocal production in a manner that sets it apart from the Living Stereo initial release. The orchestra sounds much richer than before. The choral accompaniment and comprimario singers (Ping, Pang, and Pong)have an immediacy and clarity that seem lacking in previous versions. Björling's hauntingly exquisite voice projects an Italianate warmth, coupled with a glistening upper register, that makes it extremely effective in the role of Calaf; Nilsson's heroic soprano (reflecting her Wagnerian training and repertory) rings out with a penetrating clarity of tone and pitch. She blends power and sweetness in a superb interpretation of the ice princess, Turandot. The final duet with Björling is indeed well worth the price of the two-disc set; both voices join in lyrical and dramatic utterances of rare beauty that elicit something close to awe in the listener.

There are some minor defects (at times Björling sounds oddly distant and the orchestra tends to cover the singers in the crescendo passages) due, perhaps, to the problems of early stereo recording (1959). For those who are Corelli or Pavarotti fans, this performance may not supersede these great artists' classic recordings of Turandot but the Leinsdorf/Björling/Nilsson Super Audio release is still one of the very best currently available. It belongs in the top three by virtue of its superior artistry and dramatic force. Highly recommended.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Historic Turandot Recording Finally Back in the Rich Sound It Deserves, September 25, 2006
This review is from: Turandot (Audio CD)
Here, at last, the famous 1959 RCA recording is presented in what is truly "master tape" sound. Originally recorded in three channel stereo, this SACD allows playback in that format, in an SACD mixdown to two channels, or in CD audio of the two channel mix -- and all at a bargain price! The lack of artificially added reverb boosts the presence of the voices of the cast, emphasizing the authority of Giorgio Tozzi's Timur, the passion and resignation of Renata Tebaldi's Liu, and the gleam and burnished luster of Jussi Bjoerling's late-career Calaf. Choral passages that formerly were muddy-sounding are now clear, and, in the orchestra, the basses, timpani and bass drum benefit from a much more solid bottom end sound. The SACD formats also allow the brass to shine more brightly, and nothing is over-modulated. Yes, the winds and the strings are still horribly out-of-tune, but the sound overall is clear and present. The exception to the relatively dry acoustic is the voice of Birgit Nilsson, who, in her portrayal of Turandot, makes the Rome Opera House absolutely ring (pun intended?) with her voice.

The characters can be followed as they navigate the soundstage, with no remixing attempts to "correct" the original choreography by artificially placing the voices in the center, as has been done previously with some sections of this recording.

The enclosed booklet contains poorly reproduced pictures taken during the recording sessions (if it was a choice between preserving the original photos or the master tapes, thank goodness it was the tapes!), and no libretto. However, an internet link for downloading the libretto as a PDF file is included.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent SACD sound for a classic performance, April 24, 2010
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This review is from: Turandot (Audio CD)
I have the previous CD Living Stereo of this opera and have enjoyed it for the outstanding performances by Nilsson, Bjorling, and Tebaldi. However, as on many recordings of "Turandot", there was a fair amount of congestion and distortion in the louder passages. SACD removes most of that and also provides much greater clarity in both the vocal and orchestral details. It's amazing to hear Nilsson's voice soaring effortlessly to the heights without even the hint of the sound breaking up, and Bjorling just as effortlessly singing with warmth and sincerity. Leinsdorf conducts with reasonable tempi throughout, keeping the focus on the singing and never getting in the way of his soloists. The three-way multi-channel SACD sound gives the listener a nicely balanced soundstage without any artificial enhancements. The set would be worthwhile just to hear Nilsson and Bjorling, but Tebaldi, Leinsdorf, and excellent remastered sonics make it an indispensible "Turandot".

I also own the Nilsson/Corelli recording on EMI, but find the recorded sound to be more strident and congested than this set. It's still worth it to hear Nilsson with Corelli, but it's too bad EMI hasn't remastered it since it first appeared on CD in 1990. The Mehta recording on Decca with Sutherland and Pavarotti has very good sound, but I prefer Nilsson's Turandot to Sutherland, who does not seem as well-suited to the role, though that set has a young Pavarotti in excellent voice. You really can't go wrong with any of these three recordings, but with the clarity of sound that SACD brings to the RCA, it's now my first choice.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best!, March 19, 2010
This review is from: Turandot (Audio CD)
I grew up on this recording of "Turandot" and when I began building my CD collection I was determined not to replace all of my old LP's. I purchased different versions instead. After many attempts to find a better recorded and sounding "Turandot", I finally relented and purchsed this one and it is the one I play most often. To me, Nilsson will always be the ice princess, so cold and calculating and Tebaldi is in fine form as Liu. Bjorling may have been at the end of his vocal prime but he still manages to pack a wallop. But for the, this is the best conducted "Turandot" I have heard. Leinsdof performance is full of vigor and stamina and he truly makes the most out of the end of the first act bringing it to a rousing conclusion(Mehta rushes through this and Karajan conducts it as if it were a dirge)But my favorite aspect of his conducting is his bringing the chorus to fever pitch in Act 2 as they scream out "Il nome!!!" I have yet to hear anyone else take the passage as he does and it is truly effective. All in all this is a wonderful set and sound is quite good considering it's age. Still the best "Turandot" for me after all these years.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING SINGING AND SOUND, November 20, 2007
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This review is from: Turandot (Audio CD)
I have heard this version in cassette (old times). The singing, of course, is the same high level. Nilsson, Tebaldi, and Bjoerling are really fabulous. The voices and the orchestra sounds as I never heard and never expected, after been remasterized. It is really incredible how clear is the sound, remarkable basses. But you need to have a SACD capable DVD player and surround sound music system to understand what I mean. Highly recommended and very cheap if it is considered the historical value and the great remasterization to SACD of this, one of the best Turandot available at the moment and maybe for a long long time because there are no singers like these anymore.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Fine - Not the Last Word, March 26, 2007
By 
Virginia Opera Fan (Falls Church, VA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Turandot (Audio CD)
Nilsson's Turandot is reason enough the acquire this recording, but her later version for EMI is vocally and dramatically finer still. Bjoerling is a very good Calaf for the phonograph who probably couldn't have brought it off in the theater. As a lyric voiced Calaf, he doesn't pack the sheer visceral excitement of the Nilsson/Corelli pairing on EMI. Tebaldi is vocally bested only by her younger self in the early stereo Decca effort that also featured Inge Borkh and Mario del Monaco. She's pretty conventional on the dramatic side - for a real change of pace listen to Schwarzkopf's detailed characterization on EMI with Callas. Tozzi, in my opinion, is the best Timur on record. The Ping, Pang and Pong are nicely characterized and well sung. Leinsdorf's conducting is on the restrained side but very satisfying, bringing out a lot of orchestral detail.

The SACD includes the three channel mix, giving a theatrical perspective to the voices and orchestra. No rear channel fake ambiance, thank goodness. While this latest remastering betters the older Red Seal and Living Stereo incarnations of this venerable recording, it didn't come out as well as the other Living Stereo SACD opera sets released at the same time (Boheme, Butterfly, Traviata) despite its repuation over the years as a sonic blockbuster. The sound is still somewhat harsh and congested in places but probably as good as we'll get from the master tapes. Nevertheless, it is better sonically than Nilsson's later effort on EMI where the shrill recording doesn't do the outstanding performance justice.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mithical Edition!, January 9, 2007
This review is from: Turandot (Audio CD)
A splendid, mithical edition: one of the best of the XX sec. Birgit Nilsson is yet widely known as the leading Turandot of any time. Renata Tebaldi was and is one of the best soprano voices that any century has ever heard.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What? I can't believe this is my favorite!, August 1, 2009
By 
William Dodd (Castle Rock, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Turandot (Audio CD)
You can talk about the various other recordings of this final opera by Puccini. You can tell me about the superior audio quality of the Mehta on London,and Pavaroti's lovely but characterless voice, or the lovely choral sound of Karajan's DG, I have those!!! And this wonderful SACD is so far more involving to me. When I put this on the SACD machine-- or even my old CD player, I have no interest in any other version. Why did we think so little of Leinsdorf for all those years?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm addicted to this SACD, October 24, 2009
This review is from: Turandot (Audio CD)
Great singing, amazing sound! You have to hear this SACD to appreciate its natural sound. No artificial, bright, harsh CD sound here. Very unique 3-channel sound. I also agree with "Chilean Opera Lover", unfortunately there are no singers like these anymore. It's almost an eerie experience to listen to this 50 years old performance with this great sound.
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Turandot
Turandot by Giacomo Puccini (Audio CD - 2006)
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