, January 2009
Taken from a Metropolitan Opera broadcast in 1950, the Naxos historical set offers a vividly dramatic performance under Fausto Cleva featuring three of the star singers of the time in a theatre sometimes dubbed the Faustspielhaus. Jussi Bjoerling as Faust is in ringing voice, full-bloodedly caught at full throttle, firm and clear. Cesare Siepi, a pillar of the Met., sings magnificently as Mephistopheles, happier in French than most Italian singers, while Dorothy Kristen makes a clear, firm Marguerite, fresh and forthright rather than charming. The voices come over superbly, and one quickly adjusts to the limited orchestral sound. Exceptionally, the ballet music is included in Act IV, and as a supplement on the third disc there are arias and songs from Schubert and Wagner to Sibelius and Victor Herbert, recorded by Bjoerling in American and Swedish broadcasts.