Arts & Culture
9:41 am
Tue November 27, 2012

KPAC's 30th Anniversary: 30 Great Vocal Recordings

Publicity photo of Maria Callas (1923 – 1977) as Violetta in La Traviata at the Royal Opera House (1958).
Publicity photo of Maria Callas (1923 – 1977) as Violetta in La Traviata at the Royal Opera House (1958).
Credit Houston Rogers / Wikipedia

This month, KPAC is celebrating thirty years of broadcasting. Our hosts are having some fun sharing "30 lists" - artists, music, movies, and recordings you might enjoy, that help shape the sound of your classical oasis.


As the host of Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, Ron Moore is KPAC's resident expert on vocal music, whether on stage at the opera or in recital as lieder or art-song. Here, he shares 30 of his favorite singers and/or composers for voice and (a few more of) their recordings. Technically, there's more than 30 here, but what can we say? When Ron gets on a tear, you can't stop him.


Click here to listen to samples from the list on Spotify.



  1. Edda Moser – The Very Best of Edda Moser – EMI

  2. Bellini- Norma; with Marilyn Horne and Joan Sutherland; London Decca.

  3. Maria Callas – The Live Recitals – EMI (10 discs), The Studio Recitals-EMI (13 discs) These two sets span her earliest to last recordings.

  4. Berlioz – "Les Troyens" - Jon Vickers; Josephine Veasey; Colin Davis. Philips

  5. Donizetti- The "Three Queen" Operas with Beverly Sills; DG

  6. Wagner Singing On Record (Everybody who is anybody is here!). EMI(4 discs)

  7. Strauss- "Der Rosenkavalier" - (One old, one new recording) Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Christa Ludwig; Karajan;1957 : Kiri Te Kanawa, Anne Sofie von Otter, Hendricks; Bernard Haitink ;1991.

  8. Marian Anderson – Spirituals -- Marian Anderson raised spirituals to the level of the greatest art and sacred songs with this RCA recording.


  9. Wagner's "Ring Cycle" - Three magnificent recordings include Georg Solti's London/Decca release; Keilbreth: Live from Bayreuth (Historical); Coates, The Potted Ring; The Greatest historical fragments of all acts of all operas; Melchior, Leider, Schorr and other vocal gods. Primordial and seminal interpretations.

  10. The Record of Singing. Originally released in LP, covering the 1880s through our time. The project began circa 1979 and was just completed last year with this selective anthology in two parts. 78’s to LPs then LPs to CD. An encyclopedia of the human voice covering all vocal schools; from the last castrato to today. EMI.

  11. Mahler- Das Lied von Der Erde; Fritz Wunderlich, Ludwig; Otto Klemperer, Philharmonia. EMI.

  12. Shostakovich- Symphony No. 14. This is one of the greatest vocal symphonies ever written. It also gives a terrifying psychological portrait of Josef Stalin's terror in music; manic, moving and profound. Featuring Galina Vishnevskaya and Mark Retshin, this rare recording is worth the search.

  13. Handel- Dixit Dominus and Italian Cantatas. Magdelena  Koszena proves that original instrument singing can be both compelling and correct to the style. Marc Minkoswski and Musiciens du Louvre frankly just plain rock! DGG Archiv.

  14. The Hugo Wolf Society Recordings; Alexander Kipnis. Elizabeth Schumann, Lotte Lehmann; Leo Slezak; Gerhard Husch ; Elena Gerhardt. The glory of pre-war lieder singing; before fascism scattered the tradition to the winds, on EMI. The same or usual suspects appear on Schubert Lieder on Record and Schumann and Brahms Historical recordings. All EMI, all Walter Legge, King of Lieder anthology producers who should be mentioned in this list.

  15. Handel- Alcina; Joyce DiDonato and friends give you hope for the future, and stand comparison with great singers of the near and distant past. This is the next wave of original instrument performance. DGG Archiv.

  16. La Scala edition, volume 2. Stracciari , Gigli, Baccaloni, Merli ,Toti  dal Monte and friends. With a performance of Toscanini Prelude to Act III of Traviata that is for the ages, last piece on anthology. The strings of La Scala literally weep and collapse at the close. Shattering. EMI.

  17. The Essential Pierre Bernac. It is impossible (at least for me) to pick a single disc of French melodies. In the late 1970s and early 1980s EMI went all out and recorded all of Poulenc, Debussy and Faure with a stellar cast: Elly Ameling , Gerard Souzay, Federica Von Stade, Nicolai Gedda and friends. The problem is the recordings are all of one composer. Start with the great singer, pedagogue (he taught Souzay) Bernac with his peerless accompanist Francis Poulenc, and hear the whole tradition from Duparc and Gounod to Debussy and Faure and Poulenc playing his own songs for good measure. The Invitation au Voyage does Baudelaire proud. Vive La France!

  18. La Chansonnier Cordiforme. Early music heaven, courtly middle ages. Decca Eloquence. Also Montsserat Figueras, Cancions Catalunya, Alia Vox

  19. Puccini- "Tosca" -- Leontyne Price, Franco Corelli,1962. When the Met was THE MET.

  20. Verdi- "La Traviata" -- Rosa Ponselle , Lawrence Tippet , Charles Kullman; Panizza. The last word on "old" Met Opera style. Pearl or Naxos.

  21. Victoria de Los Angeles--"Songs of Spain"; about 400 years worth. 4 CD’s, EMI.

  22. Strauss-"Four Last Songs"; Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Otto Ackermann, EMI

  23. Brahms–Lieder; Fischer Dieskau, (for the male voice); Jessye Norman (for the female voice). All DGG.

  24. Dame Janet Baker-Elgar "Sea Pictures" EMI, Schubert Lieder EMI, Handel- "Ariodante" (Philips with Leppard ), and Benjamin Britten- Phaedre ( written for her )  London DECCA.

  25. Massenet – Werther; Von Stade and Carreras at their peak. Philips

  26. Regine Crespin- Berlioz "Les Nuits de Ete".  Ravishing.

  27. Jussi Bjorling- He could sing anything, including the phone book. Try "The Very Best of Jussi Bjorling" on EMI.

  28. Rossini- "The Siege of Corinth"; Beverly Sills, Shirley Verrett, Diaz,  EMI

  29. Penderecki--The Devils of Loudon. (Tatiana Troyanos in apotheosis) Philips.

  30. Frieda Leider – Gotterdammerung (Melchior, Janssen etc). They sing like Gods, for real. Or Mozart – Don Giovanni; Pinza, Kipnis, Bidu Sayao, Novotna , Kullman; Bruno Walter. I saved the best for last-- it's impossible to choose – a dead heat!
     
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