Various Artists

Best Puccini 50

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EMI's Best Puccini 50 is a triple-disc collection of popular excerpts from Giacomo Puccini's operas, drawn from the label's extensive catalog. The layout of this package is straightforward and easy to follow, with selections grouped according to the work they are taken from. Except for the unexplained exclusion of La bohème (and the more understandable absence of La fanciulla del West), the major operas are represented, including Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Manon Lescaut, the three one-act operas of Il Trittico (Il tabarro, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi), and the unfinished Turandot. Great voices from the past are featured, among whom Maria Callas, Tito Gobbi, Victoria de los Angeles, Jussi Björling, Montserrat Caballé, Plácido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa, and Birgit Nilsson are the best known and familiar to fans of Puccini. Because Puccini is best loved for his memorable melodies, such as "E lucevan le stelle," "O mio babbino caro," and "Nessun dorma," newcomers to his work are advised to listen for them first, and then explore the full operas if the greatest hits of this package hold appeal. Due to the historic nature of these recordings, the sound quality is variable, but certainly adequate for the average listener's purposes.

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