- Carmen, opera
There's a Carmen for every taste, it seems. Some prefer Leontyne Price's sensuality (RCA); others treasure Victoria de los Angeles's charm or Maria Callas's cunning. Teresa Berganza's Carmen has a personality as tough as nails and a voice as soft as velvet -- her sex appeal is intoxicating. No wonder Don José can't resist her. Plácido Domingo plays the earnest soldier whose obsessive and obstinate infatuation with Carmen triggers the tragedy that ensues. Bizet's opera is not a perennial favorite just because of the singing, however. Carmen is loved equally for its musical depiction of the sights and sounds of Spain. The orchestra evokes the roar of the bullfight, the dimly-lit atmosphere of the tavern, and the seductive click of the castanets. In Claudio Abbado's version, the Spanish sun shines hotly, and every scene is vividly painted. If you find Carmen as irresistible as Don José finds Carmen herself, you'll probably want to enjoy some of the other interpretations, too, for each gives a different take on this timeless tale. But as an introduction to the opera -- or even as an introduction to the art form itself -- this gutsy and gorgeous recording is ideal.