Plácido Domingo

Opera Duets

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This is a combined re-released of two disks; the entirety of a disk of duets between Domingo and Milnes, and selections from a disk of Domingo-Ricciarelli duets. Both Milnes and Ricciarelli were in their formidable vocal primes during the early 1970s, and so this captures not only Domingo, but much of the best qualities of the other singers. There is some remarkable vocal singing and acting here, though the drama is by far stronger between Domingo and Milnes than between Domingo and Ricciarelli. The Vespri and Forza selections are especially thrilling; both singers care about the text and drama and accommodate the meaning of each word and line as well as the nuances of the musical lines. Other selections are still strong, if not on the same level. While the Pearlfishers duet (from Les Pêcheurs de Perles) doesn't overtly violate French style, it doesn't certainly doesn't accommodate it, although the blending between two already complementary voices is exceptional.

Domingo and Ricciarelli do not have the same dramatic chemistry, though both do bring some dramatic involvement. Those who prefer massive, more typically verismo voices for Zandonai may very well find Ricciarelli's instrument under-powered, although this more delicate reading is nonetheless effective in its own way, and Gavazzeni's conducting is beautifully multi-hued and excellent at conveying the emotions underlying this scene through the orchestral tension that is present even when the vocal lines are even artificially serene.

The sound on the original Domingo-Milnes LP was rather poor, and with the transfer, hasn't improved greatly; the orchestra often sounds boxy, and there is an almost crackling distortion at the higher volumes. The sections recorded with Ricciarelli are considerably better. The packaging includes original-language texts and English translations.