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4.5 out of 5 stars15
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on November 30, 2002
This set of two CDs is a great way to listen to some highlights from many different operas when you aren't in the mood to listen to a full opera. Many of your favorite arias are here, such as Nessun Dorma, Habanera, Non piu andrai etc. But what I liked most about it is that it features many different artists. While I love my Pavarotti and Domingo albums, it is nice to hear other singers.
Also, hearing some pieces that sounded familiar have gotten me interested in operas I haven't heard or seen before, such as the Flower Duet from Lakme. I've heard that before--but where? Probably in some car commercial...
This music will haunt you, and is wonderful for listening to while driving or just sitting. Try it with headphones on so the rest of the world goes away.
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on January 16, 2014
This compilation of operatic snippets is indeed a joy to listen to. 2.47 hours of pleasurable listening, individual arias and duets, and two choral pieces, performed by noted interpreters and in brilliant sound. So, why only three stars ?

First, because of the musical selections. Of the 37 tracks, 9 are from Puccini operas (and 4 of those are from La Boheme). Verdi gets only 6 entries, and two of them are choral numbers ! Go figure ? Except for Dvorak (a beautiful rendition of ''Song of the Moon, from Rusalka, by Lucia Popp), no other Slavic opera selection appears, The Austro-German repertoire, except for Mozart, is limited to one (Jessye Norman singing 'Dich, teure Halle', from Wagner's Tannhauser). Richard Strauss is mentioned in the advert for this collection but none of his operas are included. So, not enough variety.

Another reason is the limited pick of artists. Some greats of the past are present. Several deceased, like Maria Callas, Jussi Bjorling and Luciano Pavarotti; others retired, like Kiri Te Kanawha, Nicolai Gedda and Ernest Blanc. But many other greats of the operatic stage are missing, as another reviewer has pointed out. Instead, we have 6 selections featuring Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu, separately or in duets. Fine performers both but there have been better. Another recent star, Natalie Dessay, with two entries (Delibes and Mozart), is a real delight, however. Fine stuff, but ... EMI has a trove of recordings, going back to at least the mid 20th Century. A mystery. So, a limited sample of the talent available on EMI recordings, especially from the past, represented.

There are other anthologies I would recommend above this one. The 6-CD set, "Best Opera Classics 100", also issued by EMI, in 2006. You get much more 'for your buck' in terms of selections and variety, and performers, and at a lesser cost. If you prefer live recordings of operatic performances, Opera d'Oro's, "Opera Obsession !", on four CDs issued separately (labelled as Acts I to IV), the last in 2007, is also a bargain.

I do really enjoy these operatic compilations. Perfect for me on the road, lightening and shortening (mentally anyway) my trips. I even sing along when my family (who have fine ears and good taste) are not present in the vehicle. Listening to a complete opera while driving, requiring more focus, diverting one's attention, could land the car in some ditch, or worse. (A friendly warning to other motorists with a passion for opera.) These 37 short segments, offered on this two CD set, about four minutes long each, should be quite safe (when multi-tasking), and they are fun to hear.
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on April 2, 2007
I am not particularly a fan of opera but do realize it's merit. I also appreciate the talent of it's artists. This 2 disc set offers a wide, wisely chosen selection from most of the popular operas, performed by most of the world's greatest singers, present and yesteryear. Yes, you will find legends such as Maria Callas to Pavarotti to the up and coming Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu; sharing space on these discs. Economically, I was able to obtain this set for under ten bucks. My research could not find a more varied set with such a stellar roster at any price. It will impress any novice to seasoned collecter. I wish that EMI annotated the set better, a brief synopsis of each track would have tutorial value. The sound reproduction flows seemlessly from track to track.
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on September 10, 2002
I love opera but I do not like to watch it. I love the opera music but not all of it. So what do I like? I like the specific pieces of the music and I love the voices. I like the dream like state the opera music takes you in. This is magical. This album does it to me every time I put it on. And, I do it quite often.
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on November 8, 2011
When I first bought this album, I was familiar with - maybe - one quarter of the selections, and really didn't play it much. Over time, I've come to appreciate opera more and began to notice it "incidentally" - most of the time through movies. I can't believe the number of times I've fallen in love with a piece, and later discovered it to be on this album.
I don't know opera, but this collection just keeps giving me wonderful surprises over time. I really love it.
This purchase was for a backup copy!
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on June 11, 2013
This purchase was actually a replacement for an older CD that got damaged. It presents more recent masterful operatic performances of the divas from 1995 to 2002. The first song that struck me was the classic Flower Duet on track 1, of which I was only slightly familiar. However, the most startling performance that sent chills up my spine was listening to the brilliantly flawless Der Holle Nacht (the queen of the night) from Mozart's The Magic Flute, performed by French aria diva Natalie Dessay.

For any opera diva or buff this collection is a must-have.
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on March 2, 2003
Beautiful music for anyone. Even those I know who generally dislike opera have taken an interest! These are truly highlights of some of the greatest peices...breathtaking voices...relaxing and yet movingingly passionate. I reccomend this for anyone wanting a varied and yet stunning collection.
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on August 12, 2012
I was surprised by how many of the songs on here that I actually know. I purchased this because I only know a few songs from Opera and this was the best album to include the songs I wanted. I ended up knowing more than the ones I wanted and even sang along with some.
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This is billed as "the greatest opera stars on one double album for the first time ever."

Many major voices of the first part of the past half century are presented on this CD (e.g., Shwartzkopf, Moffo, Freni, de los Angelos, Sutherland, Callas, Gedda, Merrill, Bjoerling, Pavarotti, Sutherland, Domingo, et al.). Also represented are some more contemporary singers, among whom are Kanawa, Gheorgiu, Alagna, Dessay, and so on).

So, a nice album. But we are also reminded of the absence of some major figures on CDs (such as Richard Tucker, who is little represented on CDs). . . . Hopefully, in future years, more of those glorious voices will become accessible on CD.
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on October 27, 2014
The album itself is great, but the case is broken. It is used and it plays, but it didn't SAY that the case would be broken. I guess it doesn't matter.
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