Four CD sets and four DVDs of Met productions to be released in February.

In a new partnership, Sony Classical is releasing a series of recordings (audio and video) recorded live at the Met in New York. The four CD sets are drawn from the famous Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts dating from between 1947 and 1962.

“Opera lovers should be very pleased to have these historic gems available, as well as some of our most recent high definition transmissions,” commented Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager. “We are committed to serving our public with the greatest possible range of operatic artistry.” While Sony Classical’s president Bogdan Roscic said “The Met broadcast archive is one of the ultimate treasure troves of recorded music. We’re happy to be able to make some of its most legendary tapes available for the first time in the way they should be presented. Today, the Met’s work of course gets preserved in a much different way, and so we also look forward to releasing some of the most spectacular recent productions in glorious HD video.” 

Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia was recorded on December 16, 1950 and features Lily Pons as Rosina, Giuseppe di Stefano as Almaviva and Giuseppe Valdengo as Figaro. Other members of the cast include Salvatore Baccaloni (Don Bartolo) and Jerome Hines (Don Basilio). Alberto Erede conducts. Puccini’s La bohème was recorded on February 15, 1958 with Thomas Schippers conducting. Licia Albanese is Mimì, Carlo Bergonzi Rodolfo, Mario Sereni Marcello and Laurel Hurley Musetta. The earliest recording dates from February 1, 1947 and finds Jussi Björling as Romeo and Bidú Sayão as Juliette in Gounod’s opera. Emil Cooper conducts. Leontyne Price sings the title-role in Puccini’s Tosca from April 7, 1962. Franco Corelli sings Cavarossi and Cornell MacNeil is Scarpia. The conductor is Kurt Adler.

The video releases all date from the past few years and draw on productions already seen in cinemas as part of the “Met Live in HD” series: John Adams’s Doctor Atomic in Peter Sellars’s production (2008) with Gerald Finley as J Robert Oppenheimer and Alan Gilbert conducting. Puccini’s Madama Butterfly is seen in Anthony Minghella’s production (2009) with Patricia Racette as Cio-Cio San and Marcello Giordani as Pinkerton. Patrick Summers conducts. From October 2008, Karita Mattila appears as Salome in Richard Strauss’s opera. Patrick Summers is, again, the conductor. And the most recent releases finds Plácido Domingo in the title-role (as a baritone) in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra with Marcello Giordani as Gabriele Adorno, James Morris as Jacopo Fiesco and Adrianne Pieczonka as Amelia. The Met’s music director James Levine conducts.

All eight Met operas will be released on February 7.


This article originally appeared in Gramophone.