I need good opera music, good operas on Region 2 DVD, and good piano music.
June 13, 2004 11:49 AM   Subscribe

[MusicFilter] Three questions on opera and piano music inside.

1. I'm looking to expand my CD collection with CDs of all the major operas. I can look through Amazon.com etcetera until I drive myself insane, but I'll never know what's actually good. Here's what I need: they need to be high-quality recordings, and the singers need to actually have good voices. In other words, they need to be brilliant to listen to - if I'm spending money, I want to get the best I can. The operas I'm looking for right now are: Carmen, La Boheme, Il Trovatore, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Aida, Turandot. (I already have La Traviata.) Any suggestions?

2. Also on the opera subject. My mother wants to, next term, introduce her students to opera, and plans to show them a variety of operas. She's asked me to look for DVDs of operas which have: good acting, good singing, and exact subtitles in Italian. (I'm Italian, she's Italian, the students are Italian, subtitles in English won't work.) And they need to be region 2. Do such DVDs exist? Look at the previous question for a list of operas that would be good to have. (La Traviata is, again, excluded.)

3. Suggest good piano music to me. Anything works, whether classical or modern composition (I love Ludovico Einaudi, for instance), as long as it's well-played. If you suggest a specific piece, please also suggest a specific pianist whose interpretation is good - bad pianists are plentiful, unfortunately.

For all these three questions, links to Amazon / other places I can buy them directly would be good. Thank you in advance!
posted by sailoreagle to Media & Arts (4 answers total)
Instead of Amazon, check the links in the FPP I posted yesterday.
posted by Gyan at 1:37 PM on June 13, 2004

sailoreagle, as a professional opera singer, I can tell you that judging whether or not a singer is "brilliant" is almost utterly subjective. (I say "almost" because there have been certain singers whom not everybody likes but whom everybody respects as being incredibly special and wonderful in some particular way.) Even whether certain singers have good voices is argued about - at all levels of the profession. Therefore recommendations such as you request, from someone who doesn't know your taste, will be meaningless.

My suggestion is to go somewhere that lets you listen before you buy. Find recordings that you like. After you've done that, you will know better whose voices you prefer, and you can better choose the DVD's for your mother.

As to piano music, trawl or listen to internet classical music radio stations for a while and make some discoveries!
posted by suleikacasilda at 2:18 PM on June 13, 2004

This site offers a lot of pressed Region 0 DVDs from other sources (original broadcasts and the like). It's a good place to explore if you're looking for a recording that isn't otherwise commercially available. However, you might have problems with finding them with subtitles.

I agree with suleikacasilda in that recordings will be up to your taste. I buy some CDs just for a certain singer, some for the orchestra, etc. I have very few recordings where I love the entire production.

If you're able to go to a place that lets you listen before you buy, also crack open the liner notes to see what sort of arrangement you've got on your hands. You might also want to look at the 101 Best list here to get started on what CD to check out. Their recomendation of Troyanos' Carmen is one I'd back up.
posted by Sangre Azul at 5:08 PM on June 13, 2004

I've found the Penguin Guide to be a wonderful aide to selecting music. Most classical music stores (or music stores with a larger classical section) will have one you can look at. The guide rates the quality of the recording (not the quality of the composition) and gives a short blurb about it. I've found it to be particularly useful in steering me away from super high-price discs - there are often budget recordings that are as good if not better.

Of course, recordings are, largely, to your taste - be sure to listen before you buy!
posted by lumiere at 6:45 PM on June 13, 2004

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