Decca, the opera company, presents a premium collection of the 100 most beautiful opera tracks on 6 CDs. Enjoy classic arias and overtures, performed by the greatest opera stars of all time. This is a fine compendium of opera's "greatest hits" by great singers including Pavarotti, Bartoli, Caballe, Horne and Sutherland from opera's latest "golden age" in the last decades of the 1900s. They're all there on six CDs, from Pavarotti's great "Nessun Dorma" to Sutherland's "Casta Diva."
Opera Prima by Italian duo Rustichelli & Bordini is an excellent keyboard-dominated symphonic album from 1973. The simplest way to describe the music here is to imagine ELP with the addition of a Mellotron and a gravel-throated Italian vocalist. This album is almost up there alongside Tarkus and Trilogy, and wipes the floor with just about everything else ELP did. The main issue with Opera Prima seems to be the vocals, which are something of an acquired taste. To be blunt keyboards player Paolo Rustichelli has a particularly gruff, ugly singing voice. However if you can get over the vocals you'll be rewarded with some of the richest keyboard textures in the RPI canon.
Igor Stravinsky The Complete Columbia Album Collection is an unprecedented reissue of the complete recordings of his works that Igor Stravinsky made for CBS/American Columbia, bringing together for the very first time on CD all of the mono "Stravinsky conducts Stravinsky" recordings issued in the 1940s and 1950s alongside the more familiar stereo remakes from the 1960s, as well as all the authorized performances that Stravinsky's assistant Robert Craft conducted for the label in the composer's presence, after age and infirmity had restricted his own ability to do so.
Conductor and pianist James Levine is one of the powerhouse figures of the classical music scene today. As a child he undertook both piano and violin; he was so accomplished on the violin that at the age of ten he played Mendelssohn's second violin concerto at a Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra youth concert. He studied piano at various summer music festivals before enrolling at New York's Juilliard School, where he took conducting courses with Jean Morel and continued piano studies with Rosina Lhevinne.
The "100 Years of Italian Opera" series released by Opera Rara is unique in the annals of opera recordings. However, this installment is especially exciting as it documents the evolution of Italian opera during the 1820's, the decade when romanticism truly began to come into its own on the operatic stage. Opera Rara has lovingly compiled a variety of arcana written by composers famous and forgotten. Included is everything from overtures to arias, duets, ensembles, and entire scenes.
The aria Ombra mai fu at the start of Act I of Handel's opera seria Serse (Xerxes) is likely to be its best-known asset. Serse was written in 1733-38, at the end of Handel's career as an opera composer: he concentrated on oratorio after 1741. It is a great achievement. Not least because it uses the music, and the marriage of words and music, to evoke in the audience pathos, sympathy, delight, and as much tempered ridicule as tempered tenderness.