23 January 2013

The 10 Best Opera Recordings

Princess Margaret once described opera as fat people shouting at each other.  Opera gets a lot of bad press, but contrary to popular belief, opera isn't that expensive, or very highfalutin, much of it, being pretty accessible.  And once you're heard a piece a few times it gradually grows on you, I assure you ...

Beethoven Fidelio
Must buy: EMI recording featuring Otto Klemperer.  Beethoven's opera is heart-stopping in the theatre but also a sublime, uplifting musical experience without that staging; not many operas convey as much of a message in 'tone' alon. Few recordings stand out as this one continues to, nearly half a century afte rit was first captured in stereo.  This recording is timeless.

Mozart Cosi fan tutte
EMI with Conductor Bernard Haitink.  Beneath its unruffled Mediterranean surface, Mozart's sublime yet cruel comedy comes to life in ernard Haitink's interpretation from Glyndebourne.

Mozart Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute)
EMI with Otto Klemperer. The dialogue may be cut, but no collection should be without Mozart's 'opera for everybody', The Magic Flute.

Puccini Tosca
EMI with Victor de Sabata
The greatest of all Toscas, Maria Callas is captured at her legendary best, urged on by a distinguished cast and conducting of dramatic sweep.

Rossini La Cenerentola
Decca with Riccardo Chailly.  From high spirits to deep pathos, La Cenerentola (Cinderella) holds in perfect balance everything we love most about Rossini.  

Strauss Der Rosenkavalier
Decca with Erich Kleiber.  Witty yet wistful, this interpretation with the Vienna Philharmonic of Strauss's masterpiece is a classic boating a dream cast.

Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin
Philips with Semyon Bychkov.  Russia's greatest opera, amid strong competition, this recording is the one to go for.

Verdi Don Carlos
DG with Claudio Abbado. The most epic, yet most human of Verdi's operas, DonCarlos exists in multiple versions but this (in its original French) is one of the best.

Verdi Falstaff
EMI with Herbert von Karajan.  
The richly detailed orchestration of Verdi's final opera blazes out under von Karajan's baton.

Wagner Der Ring des Nibelungen
Warner with Daniel Barenboim.  One of the greatest works of art ever conceived.

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