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Thread: Opera Highlights disks and/or aria disks--UGH!

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    Senior Member SixFootScowl's Avatar
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    Default Opera Highlights disks and/or aria disks--UGH!

    I absolutely despise highlights disks. If the work is worth listening to at all it is worth listening to in its entirety. Although it was partly due to a highlights disk that I now own both CD and DVDs (both in the mail) of Boris Godunov (still, I plan to rid myself of that highlights disk, post haste).

    Aria disks are almost as bad, but they seem to serve a purpose for the artist, and in some cases can be quite nice as you get to hear your favorite star singing arias from operas you might not care and so would not have the whole opera. Or your favorite star does not have a commercial release of the whole opera but does a particular aria, such as Ewa Podles singing Una Voce Poco Fa on an aria disk. But even so, I tire of aria disks.

    It is a shame that of the couple dozen Barber of Seville on CD, none have the voice Rossini wrote it for (contralto) and so Ewa Podles singing that aria is even more valuable to me. Sure we have plenty of mezzo-sopranos singing it in complete recordings, but it is not the same as a contralto singing it.
    Last edited by SixFootScowl; Nov-01-2016 at 17:02.
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    I used to feel the same way. I looked down on collections and highlights and the like. I only wanted to listen to complete operas. So I didn't listen to opera very much.

    It was only once I relaxed this that things started to change. I began to appreciate selections. Sometimes it would lead to listening the rest of the opera, to see how that piece fits in. But even without that, there's still drama and vocal artistry on display.

    That being said, I get more out of arias when there's variety. Hearing a bunch of different singers approach the same piece, or pieces from an opera. Or mixing things up even more, different people singing different things (such as at a gala concert, like the Richard Tucker gala that was just streamed from Carnegie Hall). I'll listen to a complete arias album straight through the first time or two I hear it, but I don't regularly listen to such an album that way.

    I'll rarely listen to highlights, though occasionally when there's a really long opera I'm getting to know/going to see soon, a highlights disc can provide some familiarity and signposts along the way.

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    As much as I dislike them I do have several, Germany for one has a culture of bringing highlights ( special recorded) from famous operas in German. Amongst them, from the back of my head, Lucia Popp doing; La Boheme, Grace Bumbry doing : La Forza and I know for sure I do have Rigoletto and Don Carlo. I like to collect them,.
    As far as I also know even DG had a special program also for this kind of records, I do have Scotto and Di Strfano doing ; Lucia di Lammermoor on L.P ( highly search for and someone offered me €250).

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    I don't have a problem with recordings of highlights or arias. Far from it, I like many of them.

    By the way, Rossini also wrote a version of the role for a soprano.

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    Quote Originally Posted by schigolch View Post
    I don't have a problem with recordings of highlights or arias. Far from it, I like many of them.

    By the way, Rossini also wrote a version of the role for a soprano.
    I did not know that Rossini wrote the soprano role for Barber of Seville. I thought maybe someone else later transposed the part for soprano. In any case I have many sets with soprano and many with mezzo.

    I do see highlights disks as worthwhile for something that is just not available in its entirety such as a favorite opera in a different language.

    But if one really wants a highlights disk, burn if from the entire opera. That way you get the exact tracks you want, not what someone else decided.
    Last edited by SixFootScowl; Nov-02-2016 at 17:02.
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    Well, I already know what are the highlights I would extract. The nice thing is to see what others think.

    According to Alberto Zedda, Rossini chose a contralto voice for the original Rosina, as a way of giving some matureness to the character, that was in danger of being perceived as a rather frivolous and malicious girl, if sung by a light voice. And he is surely right, he is such a big expert on Rossini. But I suspect that the availability at the time of great contralto singers like Geltrude Righetti Giorgi, Benedetta Pisaroni or Marietta Alboni, played also a part.

    This is an additional aria composed by Rossini for the soprano Rosina, "Ah se è ver che in tal momento", for the soprano Joséphine Fodor-Mainvielle:



    I also prefer the first version, anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Florestan View Post
    But if one really wants a highlights disk, burn if from the entire opera. That way you get the exact tracks you want, not what someone else decided.
    Ha. It did not even occur to me to think of this in terms of physical media. Yeah, a highlights CD seems an odd purchase, especially since they're much less common now. I just looked on Amazon for a few highlights discs and they were more expensive than the full operas! [When they were new, they were certainly cheaper, but likely not by that much].

    I do have a couple highlights albums on vinyl, but they were bought used and just selected from what was available at the shop. I was fine with paying $1 for the Der Rosenkavalier Karajan highlights because I love that recording and wanted a physical copy. But if they had had the full opera, I probably would have bought it instead.

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    I somewhat but do not completely agree: Most of the time that I've started with a highlights album I've ended up with the whole opera down the line. I'm paranoid of missing even one good piece that may not have made it onto the highlights On the other hand I really do enjoy artist albums with different arias. Jonas Kaufmann's Versimo arias album is excellent, and I love Beverly Sills aria albums too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mountmccabe View Post

    I do have a couple highlights albums on vinyl, but they were bought used and just selected from what was available at the shop. I was fine with paying $1 for the Der Rosenkavalier Karajan highlights because I love that recording and wanted a physical copy. But if they had had the full opera, I probably would have bought it instead.
    Makes me wonder if it weren't for the prior existence of vinyl analog recordings, would highlights disks ever have been made for CD. Seems very convenient for vinyl where an entire opera might take 4+ disks, but a single disk can hold a selection of tracks labeled, "highlights."
    “I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.” — Richard P. Feynman

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    That makes a lot of sense. Highlights discs make less sense on CD than on vinyl (and almost no sense when looking at mp3s or streaming). But I bet there still would be some. Not everyone is willing/able to rip their CDs and burn compilations from them.

    Many record labels issued greatest hits CDs for their pop/rock artists, even when everything was previously available. Some people would buy the greatest hits CD instead of buying all the albums, others would buy the compilation even if they already had all the albums (I had a friend that would do this!) Never made much sense to me, though.

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    ^ Yeah, I guess I picked up some Greatest Hits LPs in the day because it covered what I was familiar with (those songs played on the radio). A compromise but workable for pop music.
    Last edited by SixFootScowl; Nov-03-2016 at 01:26.
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    Confession:

    Besides the Boris Godunov highlights disk, which I bought before I got into opera, so I can claim naivete (and it does not say "highlights" on the cover), I also have,

    Daughter of the Regiment highlights disk sung in German (having it sung in German was my excuse).

    Fidelio conducted by Fricsay (labeled "excerpts" instead of "Highlights") which I got at a garage sale very cheap.

    The Puritans (another garage sale highlights find).

    Emilia Di Liverpool (Sutherland) highlights which came as part of another opera that is complete.

    I think that sums up my highlights disks.
    “I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.” — Richard P. Feynman

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    Though I generally prefer to hear an opera entire, I don't always have time to get through it. As time passes I find that there are certain parts of even well-loved operas that I just don't feel like hearing, for a variety of reasons. I do listen to individual chunks of Wagner fairly often, choosing my own "highlights" in order to hear specific singers. Then there are operas I only like parts of: I'm happy to hear highlights from Zauberflote - enjoying the great music and skipping the silly byplay - and I have little interest in enduring recitative secco in any opera without seeing the action onstage. Another opera I like only parts of is Rosenkavalier - mostly the presentation of the rose and the trio.

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    I love recital (aria) CDs, both studio and live......

    The big advantage is you can hear arias from operas the singer never recorded a complete performance of, and for studio versions the singer is fully rested and fresh for each song, can do many takes to get best sung version possible and in best possible sound. Also can cover a full spectrum of styles on a single CD, only limited by arias chosen by artist.......

    The downside is there never quite the dramatic edge of live performance, just a bit staged sounding by comparison without energy of the performance and audience
    Last edited by DarkAngel; Nov-03-2016 at 05:01.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
    I love recital (aria) CDs, both studio and live......

    The big advantage is you can hear arias from operas the singer never recorded a complete performance of, and for studio versions the singer is fully rested and fresh for each song, can do many takes to get best sung version possible and in best possible sound. Also can cover a full spectrum of styles on a single CD, only limited by arias chosen by artist.......

    The downside is there never quite the dramatic edge of live performance, just a bit staged sounding by comparison without energy of the performance and audience
    Amen to this.

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