EMI's release of this 1992 live performance of the standard four-act version of Don Carlo at La Scala makes a strong addition to the catalog. Riccardo Muti's dramatically charged conducting and the energy that comes from live performances play a large part in making this such a compelling version. Muti gives full reign to the grand passions and dramatic contrasts of Verdi's panoramic score, making this one of the most theatrically urgent recordings available. The orchestra of La Scala plays with fiery intensity, and with better intonation and more finesse than in some of its live recordings. The production was clearly organized around Luciano Pavarotti's Don Carlo, and he delivers a performance that's notable for its restraint. This is very much an ensemble opera, and Pavarotti's contribution is that of a team player rather than a superstar scrambling for the spotlight. That being said, his performance is fully and appropriately committed and passionate, and he's in strong voice. The male leads are consistently stellar. Samuel Ramey captures the complexity and conflict of Filippo, and sings with resonance and richness. Paolo Coni had a limited recording career, but he practically steals the show here with the nobility and thrilling vocal power of his Rodrigo. Alexander Anissimov manages to sound both ancient and dangerously powerful, an ideal combination of characteristics for the Inquisitor. Daniela Dessì as Elisabetta and Luciana d'Intino as Eboli are very nearly in the same vocal league as the men. Both have full, penetrating voices, but with an occasional slight edge that keeps their performances from being as fully realized as those of the men. They aren't helped by a recording ambience that's a little too bright. Otherwise, the sound is good for a live recording, with nice balance between the voices and orchestra. Overall, Muti's version is a strong contender in the field of recordings of the opera.