Available for a limited time only, this specially priced 14-CD set is the first-ever complete collection of the complete RCA recordings of the spectacular tenor they called "The Swedish Caruso"! This handsomely put-together box boasts reproductions of the original LP sleeves and a comprehensive discography.
The opera, set at the ducal court in 16th century Mantua, opens with a scene in which the Duke, abetted by his jester Rigoletto, mocks Monterone, a courtier whose daughter the Duke has seduced. Monterone's curse on them both takes effect when the Duke, in disguise, finds his way into Rigoletto's house and declares his love for Rigoletto's beloved daughter Gilda, whom Rigoletto later unwittingly helps to abduct to the palace. There the Duke is able to betray her, and Rigoletto now plans to have the Duke killed. In the final act of the opera the Duke is closeted with Maddalena, sister of the murderer Sparafucile, whom Rigoletto has hired to murder his master. Maddalena persuades her brother to kill another in place of the Duke, and hand over his victim's body, concealed in a sack, to Rigoletto. Gilda, disguised as a man, overhears the conversation, and resolves to sacrifice herself. As Rigoletto gloats over what he believes to be the body of his daughter's seducer, the voice of the Duke is heard. Rigoletto tears open the sack, to reveal his dying daughter.
Jussi Björling was one of the strongest and steeliest lyric tenors of the 20th century, as famous for his Rodolfo in La Boheme as he was for his Calaf in Turandot. This superbly engineered survey of his early career takes us from 1936 to 1948, and covers, for the most part, his standard repertoire of French and Italian music–extracts from Aida and from Faust, and from both Massenet's Manon and Puccini's Manon Lescaut. He was a singer equally at home with the elegances of bel canto and with the passionate sorrows of verismo–he is particularly fine in "Vesti la guibbia" from Leoncavallo's Pagliacci… –Roz Kaveney
This live performance of Offenbach’s witty, tuneful, swift-moving operetta smacks of the theater: in addition to some audible movement (not bothersome), the singers play off one-another in a marvelous manner, making the whole work gleam. Marc Minkowski’s field of expertise apparently is not only French Baroque–he leads with energy, charm, and an ear for Offenbach’s pointed orchestration (the brass is heard at its shiniest here) and reinstates some music dropped after the premiere (for whatever reason), including another little aria for Paris. The dialogue has been coyly updated and it works…
For a few decades now, Fritz Reiner's recording of the Verdi Requiem (one of his rare stereo recordings not made for RCA, and not with the Chicago Symphony) has lurked in the shadowy corners of Decca's catalog, appearing only on budget LPs and CD two-fers. Now, in its latest incarnation as part of the Decca Legends series, it may at last get the recognition it deserves. Reiner's rendition has several things going for it, not least of which are the superstar soprano and tenor soloists.
This disc contains arias from operettas by Lehár, Zeller, Millöcker, Johann Strauss and Kálman. Performed by Fritz Wunderlich, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Hilde Gueden, Anneliese Rothenberger, Nicolai Gedda, Jussi Björling, Rita Streigh, Richard Tauber and others. The recordings are from 1950's, so don't expect super crisp hi-fi quality, it is more about artistic excellence.
"Nessun dorma" performed by the opera superstars - Domingo, Carreras, Lanza, Björling, Pavarotti, etc.