e who love Beverly Sills have been waiting for this on CD, hanging on to the LPs. She sings all the heroines beautifully. The tenor is Stuart Burrows, and he is very good. The villains are Norman Treigle, and he is superb. Julius Rudel’s conducting is inferior to no one’s.
There is only one set that can compete with this, and it’s from the same year (1971): Sutherland with Domingo, Bonynge conducting. To my ears, Sutherland doesn’t capture the characters and drama as well as Sills, though they are both great singers. But Domingo is unbeatable (though I saw this with Gedda, who was wonderful–but his recording is not as good). Bacquier is not on Treigle’s level.
In our French Opera Overview (May/June 1996) we could only agree on the Sutherland/ Bonynge, but the Sills was not available. Now that it is, a few others join me in praising it, but some still view the Sutherland as better all-around. I can only say, if you really like Beverly Sills, as I do, the rest of the cast, the conducting, and the playing are all excellent–so why wouldn’t you buy this? She had something Sutherland did not–something that made everything more real, more than just beautiful singing (though it is beautiful singing).