Paul Fornatar's comments re the quiz last Saturday and the availability of
recordings of old singers, makes me realize anew that record collectors -
those who are lovers of opera and singing in general - live in a golden age
unparalleled in the entire history of recording. Never before has so much
been available and from so many different sources. Never before have old
recordings been available in such superb transfers, with proper attention
paid to such vital things as proper pitch. The profusion of labels
offering recordings of singers from long ago is incredible, and the
internet has made just about anything that is in print available at the
click of a mouse.
And the rarities! Series like Symposium's Harold Wayne Collection make
generally available recordings of the utmost rarity that 99.99999% of opera
lovers would never hear otherwise. Not to mention Marston's enterprising
reissues - again, in superb transfers - not only of rare singers like
Clement and Cazette, but also complete operas on acoustic 78s.
And let us not forget ebay, which routinely offers up rare items for the
dedicated collector, as well as more commonly available recordings and
Many classic opera recordings are not only available in better sound than
ever before, but adjusted for inflation, they are cheaper than what I would
have paid for them in high school! I recall paying $18.00 for a three-disc
opera set when I was in high school; now, I can get the same recording on
CD for just a couple of dollars more, which adjusted for inflation works
out to a substantial discount over what I shelled out in 1972 from money
earned mowing neighbor's lawns!
True, the voices we hear from the stage frequently seem to pale in
comparison to those of yesteryear. (Haven't they always?) But each age
has its own consolations, and I for one am grateful for the one in which I
live. And now, if you will excuse me, I am going to listen to the complete
recordings of Ernest Van Dyck.