The set includes re-issues of two major performances by Birgit Nilsson. First: the 1965 Turandot where she squares off with tenor Franco Corelli. This is not the greatest recording of the opera in terms of atmosphere and orchestral color, but the singing is white-hot, especially when you add Renata Scotto as Líu. Second: a 1958 recording of La Fanciulla del West. Minnie is a treacherous role. It requires a lot of power, has many tricky passages and worst of all, she doesn't get an aria. However, Nilsson saddles up and charges into the thick of it, and is backed by a solid (if not first-rate) La Scala cast.
Next, the "other" Maria Callas Tosca made in 1965 when the singer was more svelte but starting her vocal decline. Teamed with Carlo Bergonzi and Tito Gobbi, La Callas gives a more over-the-top, hysterical performance in the title role, yet sings the best "Vissi d'arte" in the catalogue. Carlo Bergonzi is everything a tenor should be ("E lucevan la stelle" is heartbreaking) and Gobbi's snarling Scarpia is always welcome. The sound effects are good too, if no match for the Decca set starring Leontyne Price conducted by Karajan and produced by John Culshaw.
"Everything Else" is a strong bag of recordings indeed. The Il Trittico is simply awesome, pairing the classic 1958 Tito Gobbi recording of Gianni Schicchi with worthy 1996 recordings of Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica made by Antonio Pappano. The Alagnas show up (briefly) in Il Tabarro as the offstage lovers, and their recording of La Rondine is also included. Solid performances of Manon Lescaut (featuring Caballé), La Bohéme (with Freni and Nicolai Gedda) and Butterfly (with Björling and de Los Angeles) complete the lineup.
However, this set does not contain the Big Three EMI Puccini recordings: