In this collection of the greatest arias, ensembles and choruses from the world of opera, we take in well over two hours of music from twenty-seven operas. These cover many different emotions and situations, sung in Italian, German and French.
The labels that are now gathered under the Universal Classics umbrella have a pretty impressive scorecard in the area of classical compilations. We've seen The Greatest Opera Show on Earth, The Yellow Guide: Classical Music, Best of the Millennium, and now there's The No. 1 Opera Album. But that's no surprise, since Universal has some of the finest interpreters in its catalogue to draw from. This two-CD set (at the price of one), for example, brings together the likes of Cecilia Bartoli, Renée Fleming, Luciano Pavarotti, Kiri Te Kanawa, Sir Georg Solti, Herbert von Karajan, and many more. Yet the other key to a successful compilation is canny anthologizing, and here again, you have a nice selection to give you a smattering of opera's heavyweights from the Italian, German, and French repertory (there's even a step outside the standard framework with an aria from Dvorák's lovely Rusalka). Ranging from 1959 to 1997, the choices from back catalogue will doubtless be the entry ticket for many into this grandest of the arts.
~ The ultimate “Living Stereo” Collector’s Edition – A celebration of high-fidelity analogue recording ~ All 60 CDs newly remastered from the original 2- and 3-track master tapes using 24 bit / 192 kHz technology ~ First ever release of 48 “Living Stereo” LPs on CD ~ Hardcover bound book with a new introduction by discographer Michael Gray, full discographical notes and content listing ~ All albums with facsimile LP sleeves and labels About “Living Stereo”: Early in the fall of 1958, the world of high-fidelity music reproduction changed forever.
This 53-CD set is more than the sum of its parts. While not all the performances and recordings are top-notch, the overall quality is very high and as a historical overview of a label known for its sonic as well as musical merits, it's full of treasures. The Mercury sound at its best is vivid and still sounds remarkable and many of these recordings - such as the marches, show tunes and orchestral showpieces conducted by Frederic Fennell - demonstrate this amply. But it's not all lollipops by any means.