Looking for the best opera music CDs? Our experts have reviewed the top products and put together a list of the best ones available.
Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers. A greater or lesser degree of dramatic action is combined with the singing. The music of opera consists of recitative, in which the characters deliver their lines as if they were speaking, and arias and ensembles, during which they sing. Opera originated in Italy at the beginning of the 17th century and soon spread throughout Europe. It reached its present form by about the middle of that century.
The three great French composers of opera are Rameau, Gluck, and Berlioz. From Italy came Verdi and Rossini. The greatest German composer was Wagner, who greatly changed both the style and form of opera.
In England Purcell was an outstanding figure in 17th-century opera, but it was not until 1857 that an English opera composer achieved international fame with his work The Yeomen of the Guard by Gilbert and Sullivan.
The words of an opera are called its libretto; they may be in verse or prose and are sometimes humorous. An important element in many operas is the chorus, whose members comment on the action or join in the singing.
The Best Opera Music CDs
The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini
The Barber of Seville is one of the most popular of Rossini’s operas and is known for its catchy tunes, energetic overture, and fun-filled plot. The story revolves around the young lovers Figaro and Rosina, who must outwit the jealous old bachelor Dr. Bartolo in order to be together.
This recording of The Barber of Seville was made in 1992 at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Italy, and features a all-star cast including Renato Capecchi, Gloria Banditelli, Roberto De Biasio, Clarissa Costanzo, and Andrea Silvestrelli. Conducted by Stefano Ranzani, this performance brings Rossini’s delightful opera to life.
Carmen by Georges Bizet
Carmen is an opera in four acts by French composer Georges Bizet. The libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on a novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée. The opera was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 3 March 1875, where its breaking of conventions shocked and scandalized its first audiences.
Bizet died suddenly after the 33rd performance, before completing the last act, and when the opera was performed in complete form in London three months later, it received 13 curtain calls at Covent Garden Theatre. Carmen subsequently became one of the most popular and frequently performed operas in the entire repertoire; today it is one of the most frequently recorded operas as well. The work remains one of the staples of the operatic repertoire around the world, having been performed some 500 times a year for 150 years.
La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini
One of the best opera music CDs is La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini. This story of young love in the Latin Quarter of Paris has captivated audiences for over a century and remains one of the most popular operas today. This recording features many of the world’s most acclaimed opera singers, including Maria Callas, Jussi Björling, and Renata Tebaldi. If you’re looking for an unforgettable opera experience, this is the CD for you.
Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is widely considered to be one of the best opera music CDs of all time. This two-disc set features a stellar cast of singers, including Lorenzo da Ponte, Leopoldo Mugnone, and Ezio Pinza, and includes such well-known arias as “La ci darem la mano” and “Fin ch’han dal vino.”
Turandot by Giacomo Puccini
Turandot is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, completed by Franco Alfano, and set to a libretto in Italian by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. The story is based on Turandot, a character from the Persian Book of Kings, which Puccini saw as relevant to China’s then-recently acquired status as a republic. Despite its original scepticism, the opera was a success at its 1922 premiere.
Considered one of the most complex operas ever written, Turandot is notoriously difficult to stage because of its large cast size (usually requiring at least 80 singers and chorus members) and exceptionally lengthy duration (around three hours). Its first full performance wasn’t given until1974, more than 50 years after the composer’s death. Nevertheless, many famous singers have taken on the role of Turandot over the years, including Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland and Montserrat Caballé.
To conclude, the best opera music CDs are those that offer a variety of music from different operas. They should also be of high quality and provide good value for money. With so many different choices available, it is important to take the time to find the perfect CD for you.