Arias from La Gioconda, Adriana Lecouvreur, Il giuramento, Mefistofele, Maristella, Tosca, Simon Boccanegra, Poliuto, Il figliuol prodigo, and Luisa Miller.
Rolando Villazón, tenor; Chorus and Orchestra of Milano Giuseppe Verdi/Daniele Callegari, cond.

Arias from La Bohème, Carmen, Martha, Tosca, Don Carlo, Der Freischütz, La traviata, Manon, Rigoletto, Faust, Die Meistersinger, The Damnation of Faust and Werther
Jonas Kaufmann, tenor; Prague Philharmonic Orch/Marco Armiliato, cond.
DECCA B0010837-02 TT:65:12

Arias from The Barber of Seville, I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Fidelio, Otello (Rossini),Tancredi, Semiramide, L'Italiana in Algeri, Orphée et Eurydice, Sapho, Le Prophète, Alceste, and Il trovatore
Marilyn Horne, mezzo-soprano; Geneva Grand Theater Chorus; Suisse Romande Orch/Henry Lewis, cond.
DECCA 475 8493 (2 disks) TT: 82:00

"The Essential José Carreras"
Arias from La traviata, Fedora, Tosca, Turandot, Poliuto, Andrea Chénier, Werther, and Cavalleria Rusticana. Music of Grieg, Mompou, Toldra, Bellini, Alvarez, Strauss, Feliciano, and excerpts from South Pacific
José Carreras, tenor; various orch/cond.
SONY CLASSICAL 721358 (2 disks) TT: 76:21 & 65:05

Arias from The Magic Flute, The Barber of Seville, Der Waffenschmied, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Faust, Nabucco, I vespri siciliani, Simon Boccanegra, Don Carlo, Tristan und Isolde, and Boris Godunov
Kim Borg, bass-baritone; Orch. cond. by Ferdinand Leitner and Artur Rother
PREISER 89698 (F) TT: 77:12

Young superstar tenor Rolando Villazón has made many recordings including two aria discs for Virgin Classics, one of standard operatic arias, the other zarzuela arias (conducted by Plácido Domingo). He also has recorded many duets with his good friend Anna Netrebko, and complete recordings of Don Carlo, Manon, La traviata and Monteverdi's Combattimento, and as well as DVDs of L'Elisir d'Amore, Don Carlo and two of La traviata (one with Anna Netrebko, the other with Renée Fleming). His first solo operatic disk for DGG offers a varied collection that does not duplicate anything previously recorded. In addition to music from familiar operas, there are arias by Mercadante (Il Giuramento), Pietri (Maristella), Gomez (Fosca), and from Ponchielli's virtually unknown Il Figliuol Priodigo. Villazón is in top form, totally secure technically, rich in sound throughout his entire range. Judging by these recordings made in Milan in March 2007, one would never suspect the tenor would later develop vocal problems he considered serious enough to cancel all engagements for some months. Let us hope for his total recovery—he is needed on today's operatic scene.

German tenor Jonas Kaufmann is not yet well-known to opera audiences, although last season he appeared at the Met as Tamino in The Magic Flute (not exactly an attention-getter role). However, in Europe he recently has sung varied repertory including the Duke in Rigoletto, Don Carlo, Faust in Berlioz' Damnation of Faust, and Don José in Carmen—as well as Walther in Die Meistersinger. Many expect him eventually to become a heldentenor. Let us hope this does not happen soon, as it doubtless make it impossible for him to sing with the sensitivity and beauty displayed on this fine CD. His technique is solid, his sound reminiscent of Di Stefano—listen to that ending of the Faust aria! This is a most impressive debut solo disk. Complete texts and translations are provided.

How fortunate opera lovers were during the reign of Marilyn Horne who reigned in bel canto roles for two decades. Decca has now released the famous album made in Geneva in 1965 called Souvenir of a Golden Era referring to the period when the Garcia sisters—Pauline Viardot and Maria Malibran—performed both mezzo and soprano roles. Marilyn Horne's tribute to them includes arias in which they excelled, focusing on Rossini but also including Gluck, Beethoven, Meyerbeer and Verdi. Horne was one of the truly great opera singers, with a formidable technique and beauty of sound. It's unfortunate Decca didn't include some other Horne recordings. With 82 minutes of playing time, this almost would have fit onto a single CD. As it is, it sells for the price of two mid-price disks.

Admirers of José Carreras probably already own most of the recordings on Sony Classical's new 2-CD set "The Essential José Carreras." The well-filled CDs contain excerpts from many of his opera recordings and live performances as well as songs by Grieg, Mompou, Toldra, Strauss and Bellini, ending with Feliz Navidad recorded in December 1999 in Vienna in which he is joined by Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti.

Unfortunately Finnish bass Kim Borg (1919-2000) did not make many recordings. Recently DGG issued his superb disk of Sibelius songs recorded in 1958 (see REVIEW). Now we have this welcome release from Preiser containing arias from many operas perfect for his solid, secure sound, particularly Mozart and Verdi. All of these are DGG recordings made from 1953-1956 with the Munich Philharmonic and Bamberg Symphony orchestras conducted by Arthur Rother and Ferdinand Leitner. Preiser's transfers, as usual, are excellent.

R.E.B. (May 2008)