Check out the duet "Au Fonde du Temple Saint" from Bizet's opera, The Pearl Fishers. Overall, not a great opera but this piece is incredible. My favorite recording is on RCA (mono) with Jussi Bjorling & Robert Merrill. It's funny because I much prefer womens voices but this one moves me more than any I've ever heard.
Hebrew Slaves / Flower Duet
Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi.
Flower Duet from 'Lakme' by Delibes
Try those if you are new to opera and want a taste of it.
There's a superb aria in Gianni Scicchi (sp?). In fact it's the only memorable thing about the opera but it is wonderful.
Sorry I can't remember the name of it but perhaps someone will post.
Also a couple of great arias in Tosca, one being E lucevan de Stelle (sp?).
Obviously, spelling Italian is not my forté.
Very nice system Shadorne. I was nosey, sorry. This is going pretty good so far. I'm making a list and going to visit Barnes and Noble. I really like their system where you can preview anything in the store. Yes, I am an opera newby, but I actually do have some....a bunch of LPs I got from a book sale years ago. Most are mono, I think, and that is why I never got too interested in them. Maybe some of this stuff only came in mono??
The aria from Gianni Schicchi (by Puccini) is "O mio babbino caro." Renee Fleming's version will wrench your heart.
A number of years ago at the Stereophile Show in NY Roger Sanders (Innersound) played his own recordings of amateur singers. An unknown woman was singing "O mio Babbino Caro" and that performance - on the Innersound Electrostatic - is still the greatest experience I have ever had in reproduced music (the Metropolitan Opera is still better though). But the rest of Gianni Schicci is rather boring, so get it on a compilation.
You can buy a number of compilations to start out. I am a great fan of the late Jussi Bjorling ("Operatic Arias" RCA GD85277 and "Duets and Scenes" RCA 7799-2-RG, the latter opens with the Bizet duet mentioned above). The recordings are from the 1950s (Bjorling died in 61), but the beauty of the music survives!
Any of the more most popular operas by Verdi (La Traviata, Rigoletto, Aida) or Puccini (Tosca, Turandot, La Boheme, Madama Butterfly) will give you hours of beatiful music that will touch your heart. I would suggest La Traviata (the opera in Pretty Woman) and Tosca to start with, probably the latest recording from Saltzburg with Anna Netrebko and Villazon in La Traviata (they were sensational in Rigoletta a week ago at the Met) and the incredible Callas recording of Tosca where you get both beauty and an incredible sense of drama between Callas and Toto Gobbi (EMI 77774 71758).
I envy you. You are about to embark on a remarkable journey of discovery.
Thanks Rich. I am a little familiar with Renee Fleming and I'm sure that voice can get it done.
You might search by diva instead of by opera. All the greats have compilation albums that will feature some of the most impressive arias from the canon.
You might also go for some Schubert or Schumann lieder. Not the uber-Romantic Wagnerian fat lady stuff at all (indeed, not opera), but absolutely gorgeous nonetheless. Kathleen Battle has a wonderful voice (and a serious 'tude)
Don't be so rough on yourself. Opera is quite a topic to learn.
What I found useful in learning up on opera and in a way learning what I like, was to purchase the various Opera Highlights and Favorite Arias collections that so many labels offer. By doing this, I learned that it wasn't important that I did not understand the words ... it's about melody and emotion and passion. In fact, I find opera sung in english distracting. I prefer songs sung in italian and french ... I am still just so-so about operas sung in german.
With that said, some CD's to check out are (and there are others):
Placido Domingo "Verdi ... Arias and Duets" (EMI Greatest Artists series)
"O Mio Babbino Caro ... Famous Soprano Arias from Italian Opera" (Naxos)
"Operas Greatest Duets" (RCA Red Seal)
Ana Maria Martinez "Soprano Songs and Arias" (Naxos)
Giuseppe DiStefano "Operatic Recital" (Decca)
I need to get some pictures of my system and put them on here. I wish I hadn't sold my Marantz stuff years ago. I agree about the Italian.....it doesn't matter what the language, if the voice is exceptional and the music is powerful, who cares what the language (well, maybe my brother, the country boy :)
The Countess lament in Marriage of Figaro.
I weep every time.
Wasn't Rigoletto at the Met sensational? We went this past Saturday and absolutely loved it. The only bummer was that we thought that Placido Domingo would be appearing ... as the web-site would lead you to believe. Lo and behold, he does appear ... but he is the conductor!
Fortunately, Villazon and Netrebeko performed as though they are opera's new royalty.
To my earlier list, add:
Anna Moffo "Arias From Faust, etc" on RCA Living Stereo Series ... get the SACD hybrid.
Just for fun, here is a list of operas (LPs) that I got from a sale a while back. They smell musty, but the records and boxes are in good shape. Maybe there is a keeper or two.
Flotow: Martha, Erna Berger
Gypsy Baron. Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (ooo...familiar name!)
Handel: Israel in Egypt
Missa Solemnis, Schwarzkopf
Don Pasquale, Donizetti
Bach, Mass in B Minor, Friederike Sailer
Samual Barber, Vanessa (Metropolitan Opera)
Berlioz, Romeo and Juliet, Boston Symphony
Thousand and One Nights, Herbert Ernst Groh
Rossini, The Barber of Seville, Victoria De Los Angeles
Teatro Alla Scala, Un Ballo in Maschera (Big Box!)
Offenbach, La Periehole, Regine Crespin
Lucia Di Lammermoor, Sutherland (stereo)
I Puritani, Sutherland, also stereo
Suor Angelica, Marilyn Horne
La Forza Del Destino, Warren Elias Tozzi
Gilbert and Sullivan, Iolanthe
Gilbert and Sullivan, Pirates of Penzance, Carte Opera Co.
Teatro alla Scala, Lucia Di Lammermoor
Offenbach, The Tales of Hoffman, Gedda D'Angelo
Gypsy Love, Herbert Ernst Groh
Haydn, Cacelien-Messe, Maria Stader
Charpentier, Louise, Beverly Sills
Now I really feel dumb. I can't tell if I'm typing the name of the opera, or the singer, in some cases. Anyway, I'd be interested in knowing if there is some common thread to these operas. I say that because there is also a box that appears to be every speech given by the leaders of the Third Reich between 1914 and 1939. That one is called Deutschlands Weg in die Diktatur. Any pearls in the list?
The common thread seems to be that they're well-loved works performed by some legendary singers (Schwartzkopf, Sutherland, De Los Angeles, Horne, Warren, Gedda, et al.). There don't figure to be too many duds in this group of albums, and I'd say it's well worth your while to go through them and see what strikes your fancy. There could actually be some real gems here.
Woah. When was the compilation of Hilter's speeches made? There's nothing particularly fascist about your collection, don't worry :)
Don't want to get too far off track, Lousyreeds1, but I did have that thought :) There doesn't seem to be a date on the box or the book. The record label says Ariola Athena 51159X HI-FI. Problem is, I can't read a lick of German, so I'm not sure exactly what I have here. Pictures in the book and pictures on the record jackets are facinating. If you know German, please email me.
Thanks everyone. I just printed all your suggestions, and I'm going shopping with a much better idea where to start.