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Choose the Conductor

During Carmen chorus rehearsal, one of the altos stuck her hand up and asked the chorus master what recordings of Carmen he recommends.

He said that he tended to choose recordings based on the conductor because he wants to hear how great conductors handle the whole show. He recommended the Carlos Kleiber video at the Vienna State Opera from 1978.

At first it struck me as an interesting way to choose an opera recording.

With an orchestral recording, by all means, make your choice based on the conductor, but opera?

What about the singers?

Then I realized that there are times when I do the same, exact, thing.

There are a few singes that I will buy a recording for. If Franco Corelli is singing, I do not care who the conductor is, I’m getting it.

Other singers that tip the scale for me are Elena Obraztsova (who is Carmen in the Kleiber video), Ettore Bastianini, and Fiorenza Cossotto.

That’s about it. With other singers, I consider the rest of the cast, the conductor, the sound quality and sometimes even the orchestra.

When it comes to Wagner, I usually choose based on the conductor because the orchestra is equal to the singers in presenting the story and the emotions.

You might be wondering what other Carmen recordings are worthwhile since it is coming to San Diego Opera in May.

The number one recording for me is on RCA Victor with Leontyne Price as Carmen, Franco Corelli as Don Jose, Robert Merrill as Escamillo and Mirella Freni singing Micaela. Herbert von Karajan is the conductor and the orchestra is The Vienna Philharmonic.

It doesn’t get any better than this for me--two of my favorite sopranos, my favorite tenor, one of my three favorite conductors and The Vienna Philharmonic? Game over.

The one drawback is Leontyne Price as Carmen. She is a soprano and doesn’t always have the right timbre for singing Carmen.

The Carlos Kleiber video is great as well as the video with Grace Bumbry and John Vickers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaypJ4kmYCE

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During Carmen chorus rehearsal, one of the altos stuck her hand up and asked the chorus master what recordings of Carmen he recommends.

He said that he tended to choose recordings based on the conductor because he wants to hear how great conductors handle the whole show. He recommended the Carlos Kleiber video at the Vienna State Opera from 1978.

At first it struck me as an interesting way to choose an opera recording.

With an orchestral recording, by all means, make your choice based on the conductor, but opera?

What about the singers?

Then I realized that there are times when I do the same, exact, thing.

There are a few singes that I will buy a recording for. If Franco Corelli is singing, I do not care who the conductor is, I’m getting it.

Other singers that tip the scale for me are Elena Obraztsova (who is Carmen in the Kleiber video), Ettore Bastianini, and Fiorenza Cossotto.

That’s about it. With other singers, I consider the rest of the cast, the conductor, the sound quality and sometimes even the orchestra.

When it comes to Wagner, I usually choose based on the conductor because the orchestra is equal to the singers in presenting the story and the emotions.

You might be wondering what other Carmen recordings are worthwhile since it is coming to San Diego Opera in May.

The number one recording for me is on RCA Victor with Leontyne Price as Carmen, Franco Corelli as Don Jose, Robert Merrill as Escamillo and Mirella Freni singing Micaela. Herbert von Karajan is the conductor and the orchestra is The Vienna Philharmonic.

It doesn’t get any better than this for me--two of my favorite sopranos, my favorite tenor, one of my three favorite conductors and The Vienna Philharmonic? Game over.

The one drawback is Leontyne Price as Carmen. She is a soprano and doesn’t always have the right timbre for singing Carmen.

The Carlos Kleiber video is great as well as the video with Grace Bumbry and John Vickers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaypJ4kmYCE

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