Arias from Turandot, Andrea Chénier, La Wally, Giuletta e Romeo, La Bohème (Leoncavallo), La Gioconda, Cavalleria rusticana, Adriana Lecouvreur, I zingari, Chatterton, Zazà, La cena delle beffe, Fedora, and Sly.
Roberto Alagna, tenor; London Voices; Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden/Mark Elder, cond.
EMI CLASSICS 57627 (F) (DDD) TT: 65:41

Arias from Idomeneo, Don Giovanni, Benvenuto Cellini, Manon, Lucia di Lammermoor, La Sonnambula, Faust, Rusalka and La Bohème
Anna Netrebko, soprano; Vienna State Opera Chorus/Vienna Philharmonic Orch/Gianandrea Noseda, cond.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON B000099002 (F) (DDD) TT: 62:59

Arias from Così fan tutte, Il corsaro, I masnadieri, Elisabetta, Les Huguents, Turandot, La Gioconda, Andrea Chénier, Un ballo in maschera, Luisa Miller, Mefistofele, Tosca, Louise, Lucia di Lammermoor, Norma, and Salome.
Montserrat Caballé, soprano/various orchestras and conductors
DECCA 473 704 (2 CDs) (B/M) (ADD/DDD) TT: 79:20 & 76:45

Lieder of Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss, Brahms, Grieg, Sibelius, Sjöberg, Tosti and Stephen Foster; arias from Don Giovanni, Fedora, Andrea Chénier, Carmen, Manon, Cavalleria rusticana, Tosca, and La Bohème.
Jussi Bjoerling, tenor; Frederick Schauwecker, pianist (recorded live in Carnegie Hall Sept. 24, 1955)
RCA 53231 (F) (ADD) TT: 79:36

Jussi Bjoerling's 1955 Carnegie Hall concert has been issued before, but here it is complete (total playing time for the CD is 79:36) including previously unissued gems: The Diamond on the March Snow, Sigh, rushes, sigh and Black Roses by Sibelius, A Swan and A Dream by Grieg, Sjöberg's Tonera, and arias from Andrea Chenier, Cavalleria rusticana and La Bohème. The occasion was memorable with the Swedish tenor in superb voice before an enthusiastic audience whose response prompted several encores at the concert progressed. By limiting applause it has been possible to include the entire concert along with Bjoerling's announcements. The monophonic sound is well-balanced and complete texts and translations are provided. Unfortunately the CD booklet is glued into the fold-out jewel box making it rather inconvenient to use. There are many other Bjoerling CDs reviewed on this site: REISSUES ON GALA, NEW ORLEANS RECITAL, RARITIES, REISSUES ON NAXOS.

Montserrat Caballé had been on the operatic scene since the early '60s when she made her official debut in Barcelona in the 1961-62 season in Arabella. But she attracted major attention from the operatic world in 1965 when in Carnegie Hall she sang Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia. The following year she made a complete recording of this opera in Rome, but it was for RCA—and could not be excerpted on this Universal production. After the RCA recording, Caballé recorded profusely for both Philips and Decca/London; now that these companies, along with DGG, are united as Universal, these packed CDs offer a compilation of excerpts from fourteen complete operas she recorded for these labels, as well as Depuis le jour from Charpentier's Louise and the final scene from Strauss' Salome. This was was one of her favorite roles but the least satisfactory performance in this set as Caballé displays a strident quality usually alien to her.. There's no question that like most fine singers Caballé is not as inspired—or adventuresome— in the recording studio as she can be on stage, but what is heard here for the most part shows why she is a legendary figure. There are no texts or translations. A CD of live performances by Caballe also is reviewed on this site.

Soprano Anna Netrebko seems almost too good to be true. Remarkably beautiful, this young (still in her early '20s) anorexic-like Russian soprano could easily be a fashion model. She was "discovered" by conductor Valery Gergiev and has sung often with the Kirov opera. Netrebko can be seen in the DVD presentation of the 1995 Gergiev production of Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila where she is spectacular vocally as Lyudmila, in addition to her remarkable beauty and acting. Netrebko made her Met debut in Prokofiev's War and Peace during the 2002-3 season. DG has gone all out on CD providing the young soprano the luxury of the Vienna Phiharmonic, conductor Gianandrea Noseda, and the Vienna State Opera Chorus as needed. Netrebko has an assured technique that easily negotiates the manifold difficulties of all of the music and her sound, if not particularly rich, is pure and focused. An auspicious recording debut, indeed. Texts are provided in original languages and English. Sonically, too, this CD is impressive.

Roberto Alagna's highly-hyped latest CD states the tenor is taking a "new approach to verismo opera," and to a large extent that is true. He states, "People think that verismo opera means singing with lots of noise...that it means shouting and sobbing and crying. But I want to show them something different. I wanted to find a new definition of verismo." To achieve this, he "sings it softer, with more of a poetic line...using a bel canto style, with clearer diction and a purer's cleaner, changes everything." What is heard here is a rather subdued approach to the familiar arias with "Nessun dorma" sung twice, first as a "concert aria" to open the CD, and to close the CD the aria with the choral ending of the opera tacked on. Alagna's performance doesn't challenge Pavarotti's famous recording, or others by Bjoerling, Domingo or Corelli. There's a sameness of sound through, a "crooning" approach that perhaps admirers of Alagna will enjoy. Welcome is inclusion of lesser-known arias from operas by Zandonai, Leoncavllo and Wolf-Ferrari. The sound is first-rate. CD notes and texts are provided in English, German, Italian and French. Alagna's 19989 CD of Verdi arias is reviewed on this site.

R.E.B. (November 2003)