Monday, May 11, 2009

Five Operas I'd Take to a Desert Island

I'm so tired of current events that I had to write something completely different.

Here's the question: Suppose you were to be stranded on a desert island. Further suppose that said desert island has electricity and a stereo system. What five opera recordings would you take with you? (If you don't like opera, you'll have to find your own island.)

Here are my five:

1. Puccini. La Boheme. Anna Moffo, Richard Tucker, Robert Merrill, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, Erich Leinsdorf conducting. Yes, it's old and has neither Pavarotti or Domingo, but it's still a beautiful performance and it was the first opera recording that I ever owned.

2. Wagner. The Ring of the Nibelungen. The Georg Solti recordings. Don't lecture me about the Ring being four operas, because it's really only one story and this is my favorite recording. The late Anna Russell said, "The Ring is the only grand opera that comes in the large, economy sized package."

3. Verdi. Rigoletto. Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Sherill Milnes, Richard Bonynge conducting. Verdi's finest opera sung magnificently.

4. Donizetti. L'Elisir d'Amore. Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Richard Bonynge conducting. Sutherland sounds a little old for Adina, but she has such a wonderful tone. Nemorino is the role that Pavarotti was born to sing.

5. Gounod. Faust. Mirella Freni, Placido Domingo, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Thomas Allen, Georges Pretre conducting. One of my favorite operas and this one is well casted, well played and well sung.

Oops. Just saw the news. I'm off to the island!


whabbear said...

Dr Jones:

I guess I'd have to pick another island, since I know nothing about opera!

*hangs head in shame*

But on that other island, assuming it, too, had power and stereo, I would make sure I had recordings of:

Jesu Joy
The Planets
Claire De Lune
Moonlight Sonata
The "New World" Symphony

The Rev. Robert T. Jones IV, Psy.D. said...

All nice choices. I'd be willing to let you share the power cord on Opera Island!!


Anonymous said...


Being a church musician and not much of an opera devotee, my choices are probably somewhat unusual. I tend to lean toward the Russians:

Prince Igor - Alexander Borodin/Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov/ Alexander Glazunov,
just for the pure beauty of Borodins exquisite melodic treatments.

Boris Godunov - Modest Mussorgsky,
The drama and the power of the music.

The Queen of Spades - Pyotr Tchaikovsky,
arguably his finest writing.

The Medium - Gian Carlo Menotti,
Like a good Mass, the music serves the word.

Hansel & Gretel - Engelbert Humperdinck,
This favorite offering from Wagner's assistant and tutor to his children, so charmed Wagner that he produced and directed the premier.

Jim Ryland