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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2016 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Opera for the Color-Blind

Universal's Blinding "Opera!" Reissues To Hit Shelves, Blind Customers.
The DG Figaro conducted by Claudio Abbado.
Original slip-case cover art, with the famous chair.
On July 12, the venerable Decca and Deutsche Grammophon labels (which, in case you don't read this blog, are the same company) will re-launch their "Opera!" line. The series presents new pressings of recordings of major repertory operas. But in another brilliant move by the Universal Classics marketing department, these recordings have been repackaged a little differently.

Which is to say, they're really ugly.

Now, we all know that record labels, with their deep vaults, are endlessly recycling and regurgitating their catalogues, especially following the over-recording of the CD boom, where every kapellmeister worth his salt would be laughed out of the musician's union unless he recorded heavily.

All over Europe and America, these first (and second) rate maestros felt inadequate unless they recorded and released a Bruckner (or Mahler) symphony cycle, a complete set of Mozart operas, and possibly a Ring. Some of these performances were released. Others languished (and may continue to languish) in the import catalogue or gathering dust in a German warehouse.
Same case. Same recording. New art. Ugh.
The point is, that the catalogue is glutted with recordings, and the ones that came out at the end of the boom (late '80s, early '90s) are the hardest to sell to connoisseurs.

Which is why this supposed "consumer friendly" Opera! series has come out. I guess they figure by stripping anything to do with opera from the covers, people roaming record shops will grab and buy--just because it's, y'know, RED.

This Figaro is just one of the series. Other reissues getting this non-deluxe treatment include:
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.