Monday, January 13, 2014


I've been blogging for 9 years now, and I feel I must pause to consider.

I have a new friend who has an opera website called Classical Searchlight.  It isn't really a blog.  His point of view is very much the viewpoint of my contemporaries.  He catalogs and evaluates primarily recordings, most of them from my youth.

I find that I own only about 30 CDs of complete operas while owning about 175 opera videos, tape and DVD.  Callas recorded a lot of complete operas, while I own only 4 of them.  There was a sale.  I don't believe there are any films of complete operas with Callas, but there are some individual scenes.  Second act of Tosca.  I don't own any CDs of Sutherland or Caballe.  I do have a video of Caballe's Semiramide with Horne and Ramey.  This is quite spectacular.

I was collecting Bartoli, of course, and have 6 of her opera CDs.  In contrast I have 11 videos of her in complete operas.  The oddest thing in my opera CD collection is 2 complete Tristan and Isolde recordings--Stemme and Brewer.  One was a gift, you may guess which one.  The only T&I I really like is Nilsson.  You knew that.

I'm not trying to get it to stop in my brain.  I'm not trying to find perfection.  In fact what I am doing is almost the opposite.  I want to see what these new ones are going to make of our art form.  

A nameless singer told me recently she never learns from recordings.  And I say that is simply not possible.  If you listen to them, you learn from them.  It is your ears that build the music in your brain.  I know what she meant though.

We each of us have our own music.  This is part of the great joy that it brings to us.  I want my brain to go on to hear new things, even new things in the same old recordings.  I don't still like things I loved before.  I used to listen all the time to the Four Last Songs in the Schwarzkopf recording.  Now I love best Jessye, I think, but also Lucia and Renée.

The Verdi year has for me transformed Verdi into a German.  Perhaps the young singers should find some nice Italians to listen to.  

I was happier when I thought no one read it.  It was just me thinking out loud.


Emilio said...

Blog on, I like it!

Paul said...

I echo Emilio -- continue.

Back when I was feeling flush (in cash, not booze!), I started to accumulate CDs of relatively unknown operas, mostly via eBay. Many of them are on the Italian label Bongiovanni, whose production qualities are top-notch. I thought about doing some sort of pod-casting, using my 130-odd full opera CDs as the base, but the copyright issues seemed insurmountable so I abandoned the idea. Sour grapes time: it probably would have taken up too much of my time, anyway.