It’s a real marketing dilemma. Most people think of a Blu-ray disc as one that carries both audio and video. But the Blu-ray ccan be used for audio only programming. I suppose that’s why Decca has decided to use the “Pure Audio”handle to let you now that there’s only audio on the disc. They’re also hyping that the recordings have been re-mastered at 24 bits/96 kHz. That’s fine but you can’t get that kind of response when the original master was analog. There’s simply nothing on it that requires 24/96! That said, the BLu-ray of their 1973 Turandot surely sounds magnificent. If it isn’t true HD, it surely is blazing high fidelity stereo. The exotic percussion that composer Puccini scored has wonderful presence. The orchestra and chorus tuttis are pretty awesome and the solo voices are well recorded.
And what voices – Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Montserrat Caballe, and Niolai Ghiaurov, all at the peak of their careers. Condutor Zubin Mehta at his best, too. And Blu-ray has an often overlooked advantage, it can hold more material, so we get the whole opera on one Blu-ray disc, in PCM or DolbyTrueHD stereo with no breaks. Compare this to the two included CDs where the second act is split between discs. This is easily seen in the photo above as is the book packaging, a hardback book that contains 238 pages for synopsis, libretto, and biographies and pockets for the discs. Any Blu-ray player, by the way, will play the Blu-ray disc. The opera is part of a Pavarotti celebration and Decca has also released his L’elisir d’amore and Madama Butterly in the same book, BLu-ray, and 2 CD format. I hope they will get around to other classics in their catalog, like Kleiber’s Marriage of Figaro, Sutherland’s Lucia di Lammermoor, and the Tebaldi-Bergonzi La Boheme. Encore, please!