The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Critics for The New York Times name their favorite recordings, performances and perfomers of favorite Verdi operas to mark his bicentennial year. What are favorite Verdi operas and performers? | January 5, 2014

By Jacob Stockinger

Here is another leftover from 2013 for consumption in the new year.

As you may recall, 2013 was the bicentennial of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi (below), the great and prolific Italian opera composer known especially for dramatic plots, often borrowed from Shakespeare, as well as outstanding vocal and instrumental music.

Verdi 2

Right at the end of the year, with only a few days left on the calendar, the various critics for The New York Times did one of their compilation roundups of their favorite recordings of Verdi’s operatic and orchestral masterpieces in their favorite and formative performances, which often happened at the Metropolitan Opera. One of the favorites is Leontyne Price in “Aida,” which you can hear in a YouTube video at the bottom.

Here is the list:

Perhaps you will find it helpful.

Perhaps you have your own favorite performances of favorite Verdi works.

The Ear would love to hear about them in the COMMENT section.


  1. Thanks Jake for recycling this NYT article, I’d heard about it but lost track during year-end travels. Verdi speaks with total conviction, a torrent of melody that goes straight to your heart, and with incredible economy. (‘incredible’ is a much overused adjective, but how else do you explain the compression of Otello, the heartbreak of Traviata?)
    My own favorite voice is Jussi Björling’s and I was delighted that a favorite NYT critic, Zachary Woolfe, had chosen his 1955 Aida for its ‘sublime’ cast: I’ll just recommend the sublime last scene of that recording via its Youtube link

    The Met’s 1993 Guide to Recorded Opera surveyed 20 recordings of this opera via C.L.Osborne, who called Björling ‘hors concours’ pointing out that his ‘mastery of line, his command of the classical effects is of a sort that makes even very fine singers seem faintly amateurish.’
    In the Tomb Scene offered here, listen for the mezza voce B-flat at ‘il ciel dei nostri amori’ to understand sublime.

    Comment by Dan Shea — January 5, 2014 @ 1:19 am

    • Hi Dan,
      Glad I link you up to this. The Times did the same for Wagner.
      Sharing the Verdi piece only seemed fair.
      Thank you for reading and your personal reply.
      Cheers to 2014!

      Comment by welltemperedear — January 5, 2014 @ 9:07 am

  2. When I was in high school, our Allied Arts class (music, literature and art history) went to the Chicago Lyric Opera House to see La Traviata. Our teachers gave us background of the story and music, so we knew what was going on. It was exciting. The drinking song was my favorite.

    Comment by Genie Ogden — January 5, 2014 @ 12:22 am

    • Hi Genie,
      Thank you for reading an deploying with such a terrific memory.
      Young people today need more experiences like that.
      I had one going to hear Leonard Bernstein and pianist Rudolf Serkin perform Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto.
      These things affect you deeply and stay with you for life.

      Comment by welltemperedear — January 5, 2014 @ 9:10 am

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