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Opera Recommendations

I generate my Recommended CD files from a database I keep on my music. My recommendations come from first hand experience as every CD I recommend I actually own. For any list of recommendations some "ground rules" have to be established so that the recommendations are meaningful and people will know what they are looking at.

I also think it's important to make sure that recommended recordings are actually available. This essentially means that if it isn't out on CD, it isn't available. I find that many people give recommendations from their LP library, and this isn't very useful since no one can actually purchase the recording. If people want to make recommendations as to what recordings to look out for that may be released in the future, then that may be best handled in a separate list. A similar situation exists with respect to tapes.

It is also very important to give complete information with each suggestion including timing, precise label and catalog number, SPARS if known and all performers/parts.

The following list was originally distributed on rec.music.classical and started with a Paul Korenhof book called something like "The 100 Most Beautiful Operas" in which he also gives recommendations as to recordings. The list is not current, so a bit of research may be needed to identify availability and catalog numbers (See a recent issue of Opus). In addition to the original Korenhof list, contributions were made by some of the rec.music.classical regulars (e.g., Jon Alan Conrad who is a contributing opera critic for the NY Times) as well as some published information by the opera critic Charles Osborne. This list was originally prepared by Bart Gerritse based on input from all comtributors.

The recordings were selected the recordings using the following criteria:

  1. If on a constant high level, his favourite version
  2. If his favourite has serious flaws, then the second, etc.
  3. All must be (have been) available on CD.

I have collected the responses on this list. Major contributors are Jon Conrad, Vinh Nguyen and Charles Osborne (posted by Alak Chakravorty).

BarberVanessa
     COMitropoulos/Steber/Gedda/Elias
BeethovenFidelio
     PK,VN,COKlemperer/Ludwig/Vickers/Frick
BelliniLa Sonnambula
     PKVotto/Callas/Zaccaria/Cossoto/Monti
     COBonynge/Sutherland/Pavarotti
BelliniNorma
     PK,VN,COSerafin/Callas/Corelli/Ludwig
     VNSerafin/Callas/Del Monaco/Stignani
BelliniI Puritani
     PK,VN,COBonynge/Sutherland/Pavarotti
BergWozzeck
     PKAbbado/Grundheber/Behrens
     JC,COBohm/Fischer-Dieskau/Lear
BergLulu
     PKBoulez/Stratas/Minton
     COBohm/Lear
BerliozLes Troyens
     PK,VN,CODavis/Vickers/Veasey
BerliozBenvenuto…
     CO,PDDavis/Gedda/Massard/Eda-Pierre
BernsteinWest Side Story
     COOriginal Cast Recording
BizetCarmen
     PK,JCSolti/Troyanos/Domingo/van Dam
     VN/Victoria de los Angeles
     COPretre/Callas/Gedda/Massard
BoitoMefistofele
     PKRudel/Treigle/Domingo/Caballe
BrittenPeter Grimes
     PKDavis/Vickers/Harper
     JC,COBritten/Pears/Watson
BrittenThe Prodigal…
     PKBritten/Pears/Shirley-Quirk
BrittenThe Turn of…
     JCDavis
BrittenBilly Budd
     COBritten/Pears/Glossop/Langdon
BrittenDeath in Venice
     COBedford/Pears/Shirley-Quirk
BrittenA Midsummer…
     COBritten/Deller/Harwood/Brannigan
CharpentierLouise
     PKPretre/Cotrubas/Domingo/Berbie
CileaAdriana Lecouvreur
     PKCapuana/Tebaldi/Del Monaco D'Albert
     TieflandEB(Acanta)
DebussyPelléas et…
     PKDutoit/Alliot-Lugaz/Henry
     COEnsermet/Maurane/Spoorenberg
DelibesLakme
     PK,VNBonynge/Sutherland/Bacquier/Vanzo
DonizettiL'Elisir…
     VNBonynge/Sutherland/Pavarotti/Cossa
     COMolinari-Pradelli/Gueden/diStefano
DonizettiLucrezia Borgia
     PKPerlea/Caballe/Flagello/Kraus
     VN,COBonynge/Sutherland/Arragall/Horne
DonizettiLucia di…
     PK,VNKarajan/Callas/Di Stefano/Panerai
     VN,COBonynge/Sutherland/Pavarotti/Milnes
DonizettiLa Fille du…
     PKCampanella/Anderson/Kraus
     VN,COBonynge/Sutherland/Pavarotti
DonizettiDon Pasquale
     PKSabajno/Badini/Schipa/Poli
     COKertesz/Sciutti/Corena/Oncina
DonizettiAnna Bolena
     VNBonynge/Sutherland/Hadley
     COVarviso/Suliotis/Ghiaurov/Horne
DonizettiMary Stuarda
     VNBonynge/Sutherland/Pavarotti
DonizettiRoberto Dev…
     VNRudel/Caballe/Carreras
DvořákRusalka
     PKNeuman/Novak/Benackova
EnesCOOedipe
     PKFoster/Van Dam/Bacquier/Gedda
ErkelBank Ban
     PKForencsik/Solyom-Nagy/Komlossy/Reti
FallaLa Vide Breve
     PKFruhbeck de Burgos/De Los Angeles
GershwinPorgy and Bess
     PKRattle/White/Haymon
     JCDeMain
     COMaazel/White/Mitchell
GiordanoAndrea Chenier
     PKGavazeni/Del Monaco/Tebaldi
     COLevine/Scotto/Domingo/Milnes
GlinkaA life for…
     PKMarkevich/Christoff/Stich-Randall
GluckOrfeo ed…
     PKGardiner/Von Otter/Hendricks
     COde Froment/Gedda/Verrett/Moffo ???
     JCSolti/Horne
GluckIphigénie…
     PKGardiner/Montague/Allen/Aler
GounodRoméo et…
     PK,VNPlasson/Kraus/Malfitano/Van Dam
GounodFaust
     VN,COCluytens/de los Angeles/Gedda
HandelFlavio
     PKJacobs/Gall/Ragin/Lootens
HandelTamerlano
     PKGardiner/Ragin/Robson/Argenta
HandelGiulio Cesare
     COBohm/Fischer-Dieskau/Seefried
HumperdinckHansel und…
     PKTate/Von Otter/Bonney/Lipovšek
     COEichorn/Donath/Moffo/Ludwig
HumperdinckKonigskinder
     PKWalberg/Dallapozza/Donath/Prey
JanáčekJenůfa
     PK,VNMackerras/Soderstrom/Randova
JanáčekThe Cunning…
     PKMackerras/Popp/Randova/Marova
JanáčekFrom the…
     PKMackerras/Zahradnicek/Zidek/Zitek
LeharLustige Witwe
     VNMatacic/Schwarzkopf/Gedda/Weachter
     CO,JCAckermann/Schwarzkopf/Kunz
LeoncavalloPagliacci
     PKCellini/Björling/De Los Angeles
     COSerafin/diStefano/Callas/Gobbi
LortzingDer wildschutz
     PKHeger/Prey/Litz/Wunderlich
LullyAtys
     PKChristie/De Mey/Laurens/Mellon
MascagniCavalleria…
     PKSantini/De Los Angeles/Corelli
     JCKarajan
     JC/Tebaldi/Björling
     COSerafin/Callas/diStefano/Panerai
MassenetManon
     PK,VNMonteux/De Los Angeles/Legay/Dens
     VNPlasson/Cotrubas/Krauss/Quilico
     CORudel/Sills/Gedda
MassenetEsclarmonde
     PKBonynge/Sutherland/Tourangeau
MassenetWerther
     PKPlasson/Trotanos/Kraus/Manuguerra
     VNDavis/von Stade/Carreras
     COPretre/Gedda/De Los Angeles
MassenetThais
     VNEtchevery/Doria/Vanzo/Massard
MenottiThe Consul
     COEngel/Neway
MeyerbeerL'Africaine
     COPerisson/Verrett/Domingo
MeyerbeerLes Huguenots
     VN,COBonynge/Sutherland/Arroyo
MeyerbeerLe Prophete
     VNLewis/Horne/McCracken/Scotto
MoussorgskiBoris Godounov
     PKCluytens/Christoff/Alexieva
     CODobrowen/Christoff/Gedda
MoussorgskiKhovanschina
     PKAbbado/Haugland/Atlantov/Popov
MonteverdiLa Favola d'…
     PKCorboz/Tappy/Schwartz/Staempfli
MonteverdiIncoronazione..
     PKJacobs/Borst/Laurens/Larmore
MozartEntfuehrung…
     CO,JCBohm/Auger/Schreier
MozartIdomeneo
     PK,JCGardiner/Rolfe Johnson/Von Otter
     CODavis/Shirley/Davies
MozartLe Nozze di…
     PK,VNGiulini/Taddei/Moffo/Wachter
     COKleiber,E/Gueden/Siepi/Della Casa
MozartDon Giovanni
     PKHaitink/Allen/Vaness/Lewis
     VN,COGuilini/Waechter/Schwarzkopf/Taddei
MozartCosí fan Tutte
     PK,VNKarajan/Schwarzkopf/Merriman
     JCLeinsdorff
     JCSolti
     JCHaitink
     VN,COBoehm/Schwarzkopf/Ludwig
MozartLa Clemenza…
     PKKertesz/Krenn/Berganza/Casula
     JCDavis
     JCGardiner
MozartDie Zauberflote
     PKLevine/Cotrubas/Tappy/Boesch
     VN,COKlemperer/Janowitz/Putz/Popp
NicolaiDie Lustige…
     PKHeger/Frick/Gutstein/Engen
OffenbachOrphee…
     PKPlasson/Rhodes/Mesple/Senechal
OffenbachLes Contes…
     PKCambreling/Shicoff/Murray/Serra
     VN,JCBonynge/Domingo/Sutherland
     COCluytens/Gedda/d'Angelo
OffenbachLa Belle Helene
     VN,SMPlasson/Norman/Aler/Bacquier
OffenbachLa Grande-Duch.
     NH
PepuschThe Beggar's…
     COAustin/Noble/Prietto/Lipton
PfitznerPalestrina
     PKKubelik/Ridderbusch/Weikl
PonchielliLa Gioconda
     VNBartoletti/Caballe/Pavarotti
     CO,JCGardelli/Tebaldi/Bergonzi/Horne
ProkofieffAmour des…
     PKNagano/Bacquier/Viala/Perraguin
     JC(Melodia, 60s)
PucciniLa Boheme
     PK,VN,COBeecham/De Los Angeles/Björling
     VN,COKarajan/Freni/Pavarotti
PucciniTosca
     PK,VN,CODe Sabata/Callas/Di Stefano/Gobbi
PucciniMadama But…
     PK,COBarbirolli/Scotto/Bergonzi
     VNGavazzeni/De los Angeles/Di Stefano
PucciniLa Rondine
     PK,COMolinari-Pradelli/Moffo/Barioni
     VNMaazel/Te Kanawa/Domingo/Nicolesco
PucciniLa Fanciulla…
     PK,COMehta/Neblett/Domingo/Milnes
PucciniTurandot
     PKMolinari-Pradelli/Nilsson/Corelli
     VN,CO,JCMehta/Sutherland/Pavarotti
     COMolinari-Pradelli/Nilsson/Björling
PucciniManon Lescaut
     VNSinopoli/Freni/Domingo/Bruson
     COBartoletti/Domingo/Caballe
PurcellDido and Aeneas
     PKLeppard/Norman/Allen
     COLewis/Baker/Herincx
RavelL' Heure…
     PKMaazel/Berbie/Giraudeau/Bacquier
     COEnsermet/Danco
     RavelL' Enfant…
     PKMaazel/Ogeas/Collard/Berbie
     COEnsermet/Wend/Danco
Rimski-KorsakovShnegourochka
     PKFedosejev/Archipova/Vedernikov
RossiniL' Italiana…
     PK,COVarviso/Berganza/Alva/Corena
     VN/Horne
RossiniIl Barbiere…
     PKMarriner/Allen/Baltsa/Araiza
     COGalliera/Callas/Gobbi/Alva
RossiniSemiramide
     PKBonynge/Sutherland/Horne
RossiniIl Viaggio…
     PKAbbado/Gasdia/Terrani/Cuberli
RossiniLa Cenerentola
     COde Fabritiis/Simionato/Benelli
RossiniGuilaumme Tell
     VN,COGardelli/Caballe/Gedda/Bacquier
     Saint-SaënsSamson et…
     PKPretre/Gorr/Vickers/Blanc
     VNPatane/Ludwig/King
SchrekerDer ferne Klang (Marco Polo)
SchrekerDie Schatzgraeber (Cappriccio)
SchrekerDie Gezeichneten (Marco Polo)
SchubertFierrabras
     PKAbbado/Holl/Mattila/Hampson
ShostakovichThe Nose
     PKRosjdestvenski/Achimov/Belich
ShostakovichLady Macbeth…
     BH,GRRostropovich/Vishnesvskya
SmetanaThe Bartered…
     PKKempe/Lorengar/Wunderlich/Frick
     COChalabala/Tikalova/Zidek
SondheimSweeney Todd
     COOriginal Cast Recording
Strauss, JDie Fledermaus
     PKKarajan/Kmentt/Gueden/Koth
     VNKarajan/Schwarzkopf/Streich/Gedda
     COKrauss/Lipp/Gueden/Berry
Strauss, JThe Gypsy Baron
     COAckermann/Gedda/Schwarzkopf/Kunz
Strauss, RElektra
     PK,COSolti/Resnik/Nilsson/Collier
Strauss, RSalome
     VN,JCLeinsdorf/Caballe/Lewis/Resnik
     VN,COSolti/Nilsson/Hoffman/Stolze
     VNKarajan/Behrens/Bohme/Baltsa
     JCSinopoli/Studer
Strauss, RDer Rosen…
     PKKleiber, E/Reining/Weber/Jurinac
     VN,COKarajan/Schwarzkopf/Ludwig
     JCSolti
Strauss, RDie Frau…
     PKSawallisch/Kollo/Studer/Schwarz
     VNSolti/Varady/Domingo/Behrens
     COBohm/Hopf/Rysanek/Scoeffler
Strauss, RArabella
     PKSawallisch/Berry/Schmidt/Varady
     VNTate/Te Kanawa
     COSolti/Della Casa/London/Gueden
StravinskyOedipus Rex
     COSolti/Pears/Meyer/McCowen
StravinskyRake's Progress
     COStravinsky/Young/Raskin/Reardon
     JCAtherton/Langridge
TippettThe Midsummer…
     CODavis/Carlyle/Remedios
TchaikovskyEugene Onegin
     CORostropovich/Masurok/Vishnevskaya
TchaikovskyThe Queen…
     PKTchakarov/Ochman/Konsoelov
VerdiErnani
     COSchippers/Price/Bergonzi/Sereni
VerdiNabucco
     COGardelli/Suliotis/Gobbi
VerdiLuisa Miller
     COCleva/Moffo/Bergonzi/MacNeil
VerdiMacbeth
     PK,COLeinsdorf/Warren/Rysanek/Hines
     JCMuti
VerdiRigoletto
     PKSolti/Merrill/Moffo/Kraus
     JCKubelik/F-D/Bergonzi/Scotto/Cossotto
     VNSerafin/Gobbi/Callas/Di Stefano
     COCellini/Warren/Berger/Peerce
VerdiIl Trovatore
     PK,COCellini/Björling/Milanov/Warren
     VNMehta/Price/Domingo/Cosotto
VerdiLa Traviata
     PKGhione/Callas/Kraus/Sereni
     COPritchard/Sutherland/Bergonzi
VerdiSimon Bocc…
     PK,COAbbado/Cappuccilli/Freni/Ghiaurov
VerdiUn Ballo…
     PK,VN,COLeinsdorf/Price/Bergonzi/Merrill
     VNSolti/M. Price/Pavarotti/Bruson
VerdiLa Forza…
     PK,VN,COSchippers/Price/Tucker/Merrill
     VNLevine/Price/Domingo/Milness/Cosotto
VerdiDon Carlos
     PK,COGiulini/Domingo/Caballe/Verrett
     VNAbbado/Domingo/Riciarelli/Terrini/Nuci
VerdiAïda
     PK,JCPerlea/Milanov/Barbieri/Björling
     VN,JCSolti/Price/Vickers/Gorr
     JCMuti/Caballe/Cossotto/Domingo
     CO,JCSerafin/Tucker/Callas/Barbieri
VerdiOtello
     PK,COSerafin/Vickers/Gobbi/Andreolli
     JC,COToscanini/Vinay
     JCKarajan
     JC,VNLevine/Domingo/Scotto/Milnes
VerdiFalstaff
     PK,COKarajan/Gobbi/Alva/Panerai
     VNGiulini/Bruson
WagnerDer fliegende..
     PK,COKlemperer/Adam/Silja/Talvela
WagnerLohengrin
     PK,COKempe/Thomas/Grummer/Frick
     VNSolti/Domingo/Norman
     JCKubelik/Janowitz/King
WagnerTristan…
     PKBohm/Windgassen/Talvela/Nilsson
     COKarajan/Vickers/Dernesch
WagnerMeistersinger..
     PKKarajan/Edelmann/Dalberg/Kunz
     JC,COKarajan/Donath/Kollo/Adam
     VNJochum/Fisher-Dieskau/Ligendza/Lagger
WagnerDer Ring…
     PK,VNSolti/Nilsson/Windgassen
     COKarajan
     COBohm
WagnerDie Walküre
     PKLeinsdorf/Nilsson/Brouwenstijn
     JCSolti (as above)
WagnerTannhäuser
     CO,VNSinopoli/Domingo/Studer/Baltsa/Salminen
WagnerParsifal
     PKSolti/Dieskau/Hotter/Frick
     COKnappertbusch/Thomas/London
WeillAufstieg und…
     COBruckner-Ruggeberg/Lenya/Saverbaum
WeillDreigroschen…
     COBruckner-Ruggeberg/Lenya/Schellow

Initials indicate that the recording following the initials is considered to be very good (often even the best) by the owner of these initials. In case of PK, it also indicates that this opera was in the original list. If no recording follows the initials this means this opera is one of the most beautiful 100 operas, or simply that it's a very beautiful opera, in the opinion of the owner of the initials.

     EBEric E. Bowles
     JCJon Conrad
     PDPeter DeLafosse
     NHNadine S Harris
     BH Bill McHenry
     SMScott Marley
     VNVinh Nguyen
     COCharles Osborne
     PKPaul Korenhof
     GRGavin Ramsay

Paul Korenhof is the author of the list as in the original posting. He is chief-editor of "Opera Skala", as far as I know the only full-color magazine on Opera in the Netherlands, and of "Luister", the leading magazine on classical music.

For operas where there is no "JC", Jon Conrad agrees with PK (at least that the recording PK picks is good; there is no recording obviously better, in JC's opinion). "Die Zauberflote" is the only exception on this (from JC's postings).

The "CO" recommendations come from a list, similar to Korenhof's. Alak Chakravorty posted it. He got it from a book from 1983 by Charles Osborne, therefore no recordings from after 1983 are included.

Trumpet