Why Mr. Bernstein decided to make a recording of his great musical with operatic voices is a puzzle. Though Kurt Ollmann is fine in his part, Te Kanawa and Carreras are totally miscast even vocally. And what should be a lively and highly rhythmic performance is "embalmed for eternity". In the last part of his career Bernstein became slow and mannered in an apparent attempt to emulate Karl Böhm and it didn't suit him at all, in my opinion.
Hear the original cast recording or see the show or movie instead.
(2006) I might, in self-defense, add a little to my earlier review:
I am really quite familiar with "West Side Story" having worked with more than one theater group on it as pianist. I also am a great admirer of Kiri Te Kanawa but I don't think she should have sung this part. An operatic approach is not appropriate for a Broadway musical except in rare cases such as Ezio Pinza in "South Pacific" or Robert Weede in "The Most Happy Fella" which is nearly an opera anyway.
I met Mr. Bernstein in the late 50s or early 60s and am familiar with his work. Though I greatly admired much of his earlier work I think he lost his way both as conductor and composer late in life. (Due in part to self-indulgence: in addition to not being Karl Böhm, neither was he Gustav Mahler!)
So, even though many may think my comment is "useless", I am letting it stand.
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