PUCCINI: Madama Butterfly
Mirella Freni (cio-Cio-San). Luciano Pavarotti (Lt. Pinkerton). Michel Sénéchal (Goro). Christa Ludwig (Suzuki). Robert Kerns (Sharpless). Marius Rintzler (Bonzo). Giorgio Stendora (Yamadori). Elke Schary (Kate Pinkerton). Vienna State Opera Chorus. Vienna Philharmonic Orch/Herbert von Karajan, cond.
DECCA 478 7819 (2 CDs / 1 Blu Ray audio disk) TT: 60:55 / 78:42

PUCCINIa: Turandot
Joan Sutherland (Turandot). Montserrat Caballé (Liú). Luciano Pavarotti (Calav). Nicolai Ghiaurov (Timur). Peter Pears (Emperor). Tom Krause (Ping). Pier Francesco Poli (Pang/Prince of Persia). Piero de Palma (Pong). Sabin Markov (Mandarin). John Alldis Choir. Wandsworth School Boys' Choir. London Philharmonic Orch/Zubin Mehta, cond.
DECCA 478 7819 (2 CDs / 1 Blu l Ray audio disk) TT: 118 min.

DONIZETTI: L'Elisir d'Amore
Joan Sutherland (Adina). Luciano Pavarotti (Nemorino). Dominic Cossa ( Belcore). Spiro Malas (Dulcamara). Maria Casulla (Gannetta). Ambrosian Opera Chorus. English Chamber Orch/Richard Bonynge, cond.
DECCA 478 7811 (2 /CDs ./ 1 Blu Ray audio disk) . TT: 75:41 / 64:52.

All three of these superb have been issued and reissued many times, and for good reason. Superb performances throughout, and we have the luxury of first-class artists in secondary roles—very distinguished indeed. The point of these sets is their deluxe presentation. Original recordings, which were very good for their time, have now been remastered with the latest technology and sound better than ever. Surprisingly there are relatively few photographs but we do have complete librettos, all beautifully printed, and each set is quite large and weighs about a pound. The biggest difference is a third disk in each set that contains the performance on Blu Ray, currently the ultimate in audio presentation. And these are premium price editions. Even if you already own these, you still might wish to have these handsome sets on your CD shelf—they are very impressive.

R.E.B. (December 2014)