Arias from Iolanta, The Tale of Tsar Saltan, The Snow Maiden, The Tsar's Bride, A Life for the Tsar, War and Peace, Francesca da Rimini, Eugene Onegin, songs of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky
Anna Netrebko, soprano; Mariinsky Theatre Chorus and Orch/Valery Gergiev, cond.

BIZET: Carmen
Raymonde Visconti (Carmen); Georges Thill (Don José); Marthe Nespoulous (Michaela); Louis Guénot (Escamillo); André Vavon (Frasquita); André Bernadet (Mercédes); Paris Opéra Comique Chorus and Orch/Elie Cohen, cond.
DIVINE ART 27809 (2 disks) TT: 60:30 & 51:37

Arias from Lohengrin, La traviata, Un ballo en maschera, La forza del destino, Otello, Andrea Chenier, La Bohème, Tosca, Nerone; songs of Giuranna, Donaudy, Martini, and Anon.
Maria Caniglia, soprano; orchestras cond. by Giuseppe Antonicelli, Lawrance Collingwood, Umberto Berretoni, and Walter Goehr; pianist Barbara Elena Giuranna and M. Castagnone
PREISER 89667 TT: 71:20

Arias from L'elisir d'amore, Don Pasquale, Lucia di Lammermoor, La Gioconda, Rigoletto, Luisa Miller, Lohengrin, Werther, Manon Lescaut, Resurrezione, Manon and Tosca
Giacinto Prandelli, tenor; Orch. conducted by Alberto Erede, Argeo Quadri, and Arturo Basile
PREISER 89661 TT: 75:15

Arias from Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Don Pasquale, Carmen, Manon, Otello, Adriana Lecouvreur, La Villi, La Rondine, La Bohème, Gianni Schicchi, Suor Angelica, Tosca and Turandot; songs by Donaudy, Verdi and Sibella
Licia Albanese, soprano; Orch. conducted by Jean Paul Morel, Dick Marzollo, Erich Leinsdorf, Frieder Weissmann, Jonel Perlea and Victor Trucco; pianist Dick Marzollo
PREISER 89666 TT: 76:15

Anna Netrebko's new all-Russian CS is superb. For me, highlights are the excerpts from three Rimsky-Korsakov operas, and the two Rachmaninoff songs. Netrebko's voice is in prime condition, Gergiev is the perfect accompanist. Sonics are the only negative of this issue. Recorded in Marinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in December 2005 and January 2006, the sound is very resonant, with the orchestra very close-up, the soprano's voice somewhat distant. Complete texts and English translations have been provided.

Bizet's Carmen has always been well represented on recordings. This 1928 electric recording was actually the fourth "complete" recording of the opera, and numerous others have followed; currently in the catalog there are almost sixty recordings. This 1928 version is of particular interest as it captures Georges Thill's magnificent Don José. The remainder of the cast is adequate if not exceptional. Recitatives and dialogue are omitted, and there are some minor cuts to accommodate 78 rpm disc capacity. For unstated reasons, Thill's "Flower Song" was recorded in 1927 with Philippe Gaubert conducting. The booklet gives the complete text with English translation of what is included along with technical restoration notes by Andrew Rose. A fine issue for those interested in historic opera recordings—and one of the greatest tenors in a "complete" opera recording.

About a decade ago Preiser issued a CD of recordings by soprano Maria Caniglia (1905-1979), Italian soprano who was at the peak of her career from 1930-1940. She made her debut in Turin in January 1930 singing Chrysothemis in Elektra, but soon became a specialist in Verdi and dramatic Italian roles. She partnered Beniamino Gigli in complete recordings of A Masked Ball, Aida, Andrea Chénier and Tosca, and made many other recordings. This new Preiser issue does not duplicate anything from the previous release (89131). Preiser also has a second solo disk devoted to another major Italian soprano, Licia Albanese (b. 1913), who had a longer career than Caniglia and included French roles in her repertory. A great favorite at the Met, she sang Madama Butterfly there 72 times, La traviata, 87 performances. She also recorded La Bohème and La traviata with Toscanini.

A tenor often overlooked in discussions of major singers of the century is Giacinto Prandelli, a remarkable artist who sang a wide range of roles. He was the consummate artist, with perfect technique, control, and beautiful tone. He was recognized in all opera centers as one of the finest tenors on the operatic scene, and was chosen by many of the greatest conductors to sing in operas, concerts, and oratorios. Cilea called Prandelli the finest Maurizio ever (Adriana Lecouvreur). Recordings on Preiser's CD were made 1947-1954 and show him at the height of his powers. Preiser's CD notes usually are rather brief; four pages, penned by Christian Springer, are devoted to Prandelli, pointing out that the tenor, now 92, is still una bella presenza in Italy.

R.E.B. (March 2007)