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    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Definitive (aka Reference) Recordings

    In the links listed by the 'New York Times' following their article on wax cylinder recordings, there is a piece by their opera critic, Anthony Tommasini, who suggests Maria Callas' 1953 Tosca as not only the definitive opera recording, but probably the best recording of an opera, ever. He includes his reasoning for making the claim:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/a...&region=Footer

    For those who elect not to click on the link, this is the recording (remastered version):

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    I can't speak to the question of which is the best opera recording of all time, and certainly am not capable of any discussion in anything like the detail Tommasini discusses, but I do have my own idea of reference recordings - there are several that come to mind, but this one tops them all:


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    This has it all - Jess Thomas is the very epitome of a Heldentenor singer and is at his peak here in 1962. Rudolf Kempe conducts a thrilling performance that also features Elisabeth Grümmer and Christa Ludwig.

    I'll save my other choices for later...

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    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Definitive recordings. Reference recordings. I could only tell of good sounding recordings but think one would have to be a musicologist to qualify to determine if a recording is definitive or reference. But I'll toss in that this one perhaps is in that category:
    "Ah,non credea mirarti si presto estinto, o fiore." --Bellini, La Sonnambula (also written on his tomb).

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    It's certainly far beyond my newbie capabilities. I've only just recently learned what definitive recording means. haha

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    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Of course, the topic is subjective. But if I had to choose what I'd consider a "reference" recording, it would be Karl Böhm’s 1965 Die Zauberflöte with the incomparable Fritz Wunderlich as Tamino as well as excellent portrayals by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Papageno), Franz Crass (Sarastro), Roberta Peters (Queen of the Night), and Evelyn Lear (Pamina).


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    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    Of course, the topic is subjective. But if I had to choose what I'd consider a "reference" recording, it would be Karl Böhm’s 1965 Die Zauberflöte with the incomparable Fritz Wunderlich as Tamino as well as excellent portrayals by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Papageno), Franz Crass (Sarastro), Roberta Peters (Queen of the Night), and Evelyn Lear (Pamina).

    That was one of the first opera recordings I ever bought. I had had a rough day at work and needed something to cheer me up. I still have the vinyl set (somewhere in my storage area) but never bought a CD set. Now at the top of my wish list!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Ragsdale View Post
    It's certainly far beyond my newbie capabilities. I've only just recently learned what definitive recording means. haha
    Come on, Ragsdale! Always room to join in the fun!

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