does mixing kill the soundstage?

All this talk about "soundstage" gets me to thinking how in the world do we hear an accurate (or even close) soundstage on anything other than live, acoustic, performances recorded by just 2 mics with no mixing. Why would you even *hear* where a singer is if they are being recorded by a mic right in front of them that is recorded, most likely, seperately from anything else? They run all these different tracks (vocals, drums, guitar, whatever), changing the volume of each one to get the best *sound* Why would this not create a total mess? I guess I know nothing about how the recording process is done, but just off the top of my head it seems like almost everything would just be a garbled mess, which alot are, but some are not and I KNOW they are mixed somewhere down the line. Am I missing something? That being said how does one find good quality live, acoustic recordings that DO have a great soundstage? I listen to just about every type of music under the sun so I am not picky. I just want 50-75 good CDs that will send chills down my spine......
Mixing doesn't kill the soundstage, it creates it. Often, a song begins w/a click track (metronome beat or scratch drum heard in studio headphones) while the various tracks are laid down on top of that. Only after all the parts are 'tracked', does the assembly of the song begin. Mixing engineers adjust tone (EQ and effects), volume, and stereo placement (panning). The trick is to give each instrument its own place in the mix and not stack parts w/similar frequency content on top of each other(thus muddling the sound). This applies primarily to modern rock, pop, and country. Symphonic recordings (or any recording where individual mics would be impractical) are usually done with multiple condenser mics where the mixing engineer slighty tailors each mics output and placement in the mix to duplicate the live experience. Both recording methods have their pitfalls. Hope that helps...
So they actually try to create a soundstage that most likely does not exist in real-life (in the former example). Interesting. I guess a very large percentage of the sound quality falls on the shoulders of these people. I would love to "sit in" and experience that happening. Some may find it boring, but I love to watch a good cook prepare a meal. ( time for a midnight snack.......?)
In modern multi-miked recordings the soundstage is an artificial creation. A talented recording engineer can assemble the individual recorded tracks (typically between 24 and 48) into a coherent sonic image. The juggling of left versus right channel volume and phase manipulation allow the placement of specific instruments within an artificial, digitally created, ambient soundfield. Within any musical genre there are generalized rules that govern the mix with mono compatibility being the highest priority. A skillful engineer can fashion a very convincing aural experience.
Just to add a bit to 61's post, there is always the actual room sound aspect of recording vocals, piano, acoustic guitars, etc. that can help an engineer create a convincing soundstage, even within the artificial environment 61 so well describes. I am about to begin a recording project that involves a "clicktrack", acoustic guitar, guide vocal, percussion, bass, piano, horns, in that order, and I will try to keep as much of the natural room sound as possible even with much overdubbing.
If the actual room sound is not that great, I will add a different room sound as discretely as I can.