This may just be me, but I tend to feel that the highlights CD of any given opera should to a certain extent cover the main plot points. I realise that in the end the music is more important, really, than the story but nevertheless there is a story there and it seems a shame to forget about it. Highlights CDs are significantly cheaper than complete operas and so there are no doubt many people whose first experience of an opera on CD is through highlights. Thus the first impression they have of it comes this way, and I think it's nice if that first impression is an accurate(ish) one of the plot as well as the music. The title of this blog perhaps suggests otherwise but no matter. This all comes about because I just bought two days ago an EMI Red Line Don Giovanni highlights CD and it goes from the overture to Madamina, il catalogo e questo with nothing in between. This means we miss The first appearances of everyone except Zerlina and Masetto, the murder of the Commendatore, Donna Elvira's background: more or less all exposition in fact. After that the selection of highlights (which, to be fair, is never going to able to please everyone) makes a little more sense except for one thing: the Commendatore-as-statue makes not a single appearance. This CD comes from a complete recording but for some reason all the Commendatore's appearances have been left out. Bizarre.
I've also just listened, as planned, to Ruth Ann Swenson as Rosina in the Met Broadcast of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, which was rather lovely. When I became a fan of Ruth Ann a couple of years ago, I wouldn't have expected ever to hear her sing as a mezzo (she chooses not to sing Rosina as a soprano, which is an option) but I thought she was just wonderful. This was my fourth Barbiere- I have Jennifer Larmore and Cecilia Bartoli on highlights CDs and Cecilia also on DVD- and (as I've just made obvious) since my interest is mostly in the Rosina, not the boys, my attention was rather divided when she wasn't on stage. Nevertheless, a very nice performance- and apparently a funny one too. On radio, of course, there's no indication of the physical humour going on onstage, but there were quite a few laughs from the audience.
And finally, an idea I've just had. A 'CD du jour': whatever I'm besotted with or listening to or think ought to be promoted etc. So...
CD du jour: Endless Pleasure- Ruth Ann Swenson (Handel and Mozart Arias). The title is taken from an aria from Handel's Semele but, to make an entirely predictable and unoriginal comment, the CD truly is endlessly pleasurable.