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Great Opera Collection Box set

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Audio CD, Box set, March 11, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Celebrating the composer's 150th Anniversary in 2008, this is a 15-CD definitive collection of his most popular operas in classic performances! Decca's recordings of Puccini's operas rank among the very finest ever committed to disc. This legacy was started in 1951 when Renata Tebaldi made her first recording of Madama Butterfly, and throughout the rest of the 1950s Tebaldi recorded Puccini's other major operas. Tebaldi was cast alongside such distinguished colleagues as Carlo Bergonzi and Mario del Monaco. Acclaimed opera maestri at the helm of these recordings include Francesco Molinari-Pradelli and Tullio Serafin. This collection of the great Puccini operas includes the stereo versions of Madama Butterfly and La Bohème and is the ideal collection of some of the world's most popular and enduring operas in acclaimed recordings that have been an integral part of Decca's legendary opera catalogue for the past fifty years.


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Product Details

  • Performer: Renata Tebaldi, Carlo Bergonzi
  • Composer: Giacomo Puccini
  • Audio CD (March 11, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 15
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B000YCLR6K
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,257 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

113 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Good Stuff on March 13, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Most of us who are of a certain age know these recordings and have lived with them, off and on, for decades.

A few things need to be cleared up, since Amazon hasn't exactly gone out of its' way to be of help: These are the stereo versions of each of the operas, not the earlier mono recordings.

The earliest are the Manon Lescaut from 1954 and the Turandot from a year or so later. They both feature the glorious Renata Tebaldi and Mario Del Monaco, respectively, in their absolute best voices. The too seldom recorded Inge Borkh is heard to thrilling effect as Turandot. The sound on the Manon Lescaut is somewhat superior than that on the Turandot, although both are certainly good enough. Fanciulla and Butterfly are from 1958 and Boheme came along a year later, along with Tosca, featuring the astounding Scarpia of George London, who, just a few years later, would find his voice silenced forever by illness. All were recorded at the Academia di Santa Cecilia, Roma, a favorite venue for Decca and other recording companies at the time.
The final three operas in the set, The Trittico, date from around 1962 and were recorded at the Maggio Musicale, Fiorenze, not, in my opinion, quite as successful a recording location. Also, of all the operas on this set, many of which are what I consider desert island musts, these three show the beginnings of the inevitable wear voices singing this repertoire can experience. Tebaldi is just off that blush of greatness that distinguishes the earlier works. Del Monaco is very powerful in the Tabarro, which is not foreign to the role. But it sounds like, by this time, he was losing the ability to scale down his voice above the staff. On the other hand, the legendary Boheme and Butterfly catch the young Carlo Bergonzi in magnificent form.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Moonfish on July 9, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
+ Manon Lescaut:
Renata Tebaldi, Mario Del Monaco, Mario Boriello, Fernando Corena & Piero de Palma
Francesco Molinari-Pradelli; July/August 1954

+ La Bohème:
Renata Tebaldi, Carlo Bergonzi, Gianna d'Angelo, e Bastianini, to Cesari, Cesare Siepi, Fernando Corena & Piero de Palma
Tullio Serafin; August 1959

+ Tosca:
Renata Tebaldi, Mario del Monaco, George London, Silvio Maionica & Fernando Corena
Francesco Molinari-Pradelli; July 1959

+ Madama Butterfly:
Renata Tebaldi, Carlo Bergonzi, Goro Angelo Mercuriali, Fiorenza Cossotto & Enzo Sordello
Tullio Serafin; July 1958

+ La fanciulla del West:
Renata Tebaldi, Mario del Monaco, Cornell Macneil, Piero di Palma & Silvio Maionica
Franco Capuana; August 1958

+ Turandot:
Inge Borkh, Renata Tebaldi, Mario del Monaco, Bicola Zaccaria, Fernando Corena, Mario Carlin, Renato Ercolani, Gaetano Fanelli & Ezio Giordano,
Alberto Erede; August 1955

+ Il Trittico:
Robert Merrill, Renata Tebaldi, Mario del Monaco, Renata Tebaldi, Giulietta Simionato & Fernando Corena
Orchestra e coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Lamberto Gardelli; July 1962

Orchestra e coro dell'Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Roma
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By What's in a name? on January 21, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The operas in this set are:

Manon Lescaut
La Bohème
Tosca
Madama Butterfly
La fanciulla del West
Turandot

Il trittico (The Triptych, or the three one act operas that were intended to go together):

Il tabarro
Suor Angelica
Gianni Schicchi

This set is in some ways easy to review, as it is a collection of solid performances at an unbelievably great price (typically, Amazon sells this for about half of the low retail price of $49.98, or, in other words, about the full price of one opera). The sound quality is quite good considering when it was recorded, and is good enough to be rewarding on a good stereo (I played this set through some Apogee Stage speakers; just do an online search for reviews of these speakers). Really, if one is on a tight budget, this is well worth getting as one's only set of Puccini operas, and if one is rich, one ought to buy it for comparison with other performances.

But it is not an ideal set, for several reasons. First, as others have noted, there are no libretti. So if you are the sort of person who wants to read along as they sing, so that you will know what they are singing, this is a significant drawback. Even if you obtain a copy of the libretti elsewhere, there will be no markings in it to tell you what track the passage is on, so if you get lost or just want to know what they are singing at a particular point in the opera, you may have difficulties finding what they are singing.

Second, although the sound quality is very good, it is certainly not the best, and certainly not state of the art.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By pm444 on October 17, 2008
Format: MP3 Music
The set is an amazing bargain and anyone who loves Puccini and knows these artists will buy it while it's still available.

However, I feel compelled to write a brief response to the reviewer who criticized Decca for not having consistent CD data for the various CDs in this set. The record companies do not generate the tags (album name, artist, etc.) that are used by online music databases. Instead, the information is entered by a variety of independent users who employ a variety of standards or conventions when entering information about a CD. Thus, one user may enter the data for the first CD in a set, while another user enters the data for the second CD, and the two users may enter the data using different conventions. The record companies do not and cannot control the way this data is entered, and it's not a fair complaint to criticize them for a lack of standardization. In any case, it's very easy for the user to change these tags within iTunes by simply selecting multiple tracks and then renaming the disc, artist, or any other data field with the user's personal preference.

The major record labels may be guilty of any number of offenses, but this is not one that can be laid at their doorstep. Given the extremely low price of this set, it's even more unfair to complain about something that's so easily modified by the consumer.
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