Opera Special Feature: 101 Best Opera CDs
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101 Best

Gershwin: Porgy and Bess
Camilla Williams, Lawrence Winters, Avon Long
Columbia Symphony Orchestra
Lehman Engel, conductor

Awaiting reissue, the first "complete" recording has a theatrical feel to it and performers who believe in their work, also true for some of the later recordings, but the excitement which radiates from this production is infectious. Should you want to hear the 45 minutes not available here you'll have to try the Rattle which is a good second choice.

Glinka: A Life for the Czar
Teresa Stich-Randall, Melanie Bugarinovich, Nicolai Gedda, Boris Christoff
Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux
Igor Markevitch, conductor

Despite the extensive cuts, this remains the most exciting version of the earliest Russian opera to be maintained in the repertoire. Gedda and Stich-Randall in the first flush of youth remain astonishing for the élan they bring to their work, sailing through the not inconsiderable difficulties which would make most singers blanch. Christoff is nobility personified and Markevitch has the music in his bones.

Gounod: Faust
Cheryl Studer, Martine Mahé, Nadine Denize, Richard Leech, Thomas Hampson, José van Dam
Orchestre and Chorus of the Capitole du Toulouse
Michel Plasson, conductor

Taking a fresh look at a score tarnished by years of the sort of treatment accorded an old shoe, Plasson gives it the respect due a masterpiece; van Dam does the same for Méphisto, scrupulously attentive to all the nuances as if he were performing Schubert. Leech, Studer and Hampson give their all in outstanding French, a quality lacking in most other recent recordngs.

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