Culture Magazine

La Divina Discounted, and Other News

By Singingscholar @singingscholar
I have a collection of late summer miscellany for you, Gentle Readers! The first piece of news you may already know, but it's good enough that I feel justified in passing it along just in case. In these weary days of clinging and lingering summer, EMI is giving opera-lovers a treat analogous to the fruit merchant discounting your strawberries and throwing an extra quart in for good measure: lots of Maria Callas for 99 cents (sic.) Puccini, Rossini, and Donizetti are each well-represented, with justly famous arias alongside lesser-known assumptions (not only both of Liu's arias, for instance, but also "In questa reggia." Do not mess with this Turandot.) The quantity and variety of the Rossini and Donizetti serve as a reminder of just how much bel canto Callas did. There is also a surprising-to-me quantity of French opera: not only Gounod's Faust, but Berlioz's, not only Carmen, but Charlotte (the letter scene.) Just don't listen to it all at once, or I won't be answerable for your emotional state. Have a glass of ice water to hand, or something. Two vaguely connected anecdotes: the first time I heard Callas sing "Senza Mamma," I called my mother, who became instantly convinced that something was terribly wrong as she could tell I'd been crying. Also, this collection comes recommended by the fact that even before I heard about it from EMI, I'd heard about it from an opera acquaintance I ran into downtown at Dialogues. 
Meanwhile, the always-dangerous Arkiv Music is offering up a bumper crop of temptations with its Summer Clearance Sale. There are abundant recital discs cheaply priced: for $7 you could have, for example, a disc's worth of Pavarotti singing verismo, or Bryn Terfel singing Handel, or perhaps English art songs (text! so much glorious text!), or a compilation of Thomas Quasthoff singing lieder (don't hesitate to clear out the stock, Gentle Readers.) Mysteriously large numbers of Cecilia Bartoli and Roberto Alagna discs are available, as well as Placido Domingo singing operetta-ish ballads (hey, why not?) There is also so much Beethoven on offer (Uchida! Pollini!) that one might easily become overwhelmed and just get a giant Box of Beethoven. What about Schoenberg's Gurrelieder featuring Jessye Norman and an et al that includes Troyanos? Then there are operas! Lots of operas, most of them at about half of their usual price. I did mention, didn't I, that it was dangerous? Excitingly, I do get my first paycheck in months at the end of this week... which means that, once again, the academic year is upon us. As ever, I'm torn between a feeling of ticklish elation and vague foreboding. Soon, all too soon, I will be surrounded by a pile of student papers and several empty tea mugs, whimpering faintly about comma splices and sloppy logic. I already have my first event of the opera season bookmarked, though:

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