The below revised list, is obviously not intended to reflect on the greatest operas composed – it simply reflects the 20 operas I, for the moment prefer to listen to, together with a brief mentioning of some of my favorite recordings of those operas on CD and DVD.
To be updated, when necessary..
Operas are listed in alphabetical order by the composer:
Bartok: Bluebeard´s Castle. CD: Kertesz with Christa Ludwig/Walter Berry. DVD: Still looking. In the meantime the Solti conducted film is rather fine, especially on the musical side.
Berg: Lulu. CD: Boulez w/Stratas. DVD: Christine Schäfer in the Glyndebourne production. Bechtolf´s Zurich production with Laura Aikin is a viable alternative.
Debussy: Pelléas and Melisande. CD: Karajan w/von Stade. DVD: Boulez/Stein from Welsh National Opera.
Dvorak: Rusalka. CD: Mackerras with Fleming/Heppner. DVD: The Paris Carsen production with Renée Fleming.
Gounod: Faust. CD: Undecided. DVD: Ken Russell´s Vienna production, but basically I am waiting.
Mozart: Don Giovanni. CD: Furtwängler w/Siepi. DVD: Essentiallly still waiting. Kusej´s 2006 Salzburg production will do in the meantime.
Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov. CD: Undecided. Probably Abbado (Shostakovich version). DVD: Matti Salminen in Willy Decker´s Barcelona production. The alternative is the Gergiev-conducted Tarkovsky production.
Mussorgsky: Khovanshchina. CD: Abbado from Vienna. DVD: Waiting. In the meantime Abbado´s Vienna production is not a bad choice (the only alternative is Winge´s production from Barcelona)
Offenbach: Les Contes d´Hoffmann. CD: Undecided. DVD: The Paris Carsen production until hopefully David McVicar´s 2003 Salzburg production will be released.
Shostakovich: Lady Macbeth from Mtsensk. CD: Undecided. DVD: Jansons/Kusej with Westbroek/Ventris from Amsterdam.
Strauss: Salome. CD (difficult choice) - on top probably Reiner w/Welitsch, Böhm w/Rysanek. Other fine discs are Solti w/Birgit Nilsson, Schønwandt w/Inga Nielsen, Sinopoli w/Cheryl Studer. Welitsch first. DVD: Waiting for Karita Mattila. For an interesting directorial take, see David McVicar´s London production. Some may prefer Götz Friedrich´s 1974 film with Teresa Stratas.
Strauss: Die Frau Ohne Schatten. CD: Solti or Böhm w/Rysanek. DVD: Solti conducting Götz Friedrich´s Salzburg staging. The only alternative is Sawallisch with a Kabuki-inspired staging.
Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin. CD: Undecided. DVD: The Salzburg Breth/Barenboim production with Peter Mattei. As a close second, the Carsen MET production with Renée Fleming/Dmitri Hvorostovsky.
Verdi: Macbeth. CD: Abbado w/Verrett, Cappucilli. DVD: Claude D´Anna´s film with Leo Nucci and Shirley Verrett, for once is a convincing opera film.
Verdi: Don Carlo. CD: Giulini w/Domingo, Caballé, Verrett, Raimondi. DVD: Still waiting.
Verdi: Otello. CD: Chung w/Domingo or Levine w/Domingo. DVD: La Scala/Domingo.
Wagner: Tristan and Isolde. CD: Furtwängler or Barenboim (no order). And Pappano for René Pape and Plácido Domingo. DVD: Chéreau/Barenboim with Waltraud Meier from La Scala 2007. Alternatively the Heine Müller/Barenboim 1995 Bayreuth production. Other fine alternatives are the Ponelle/Barenboim Bayreuth production, the Munich Konwitschny production or the Lehnhoff Glyndebourne production.
Wagner: Meistersinger. CD: Solti (~1996). DVD: I am not really happy with any of the available choices, though ultimately I prefer the Schenk/Levine version from the Met.
Wagner: Ring des Nibelungen – counts as one opera. CD: Solti or Keilberth (in that order, probably). DVD: Kupfer/Barenboim from Bayreuth as first choice. Chéreau/Boulez from Bayreuth as second. For a traditional ring, the Schenk/Levine Met production is the only available choice.
Wagner: Parsifal. CD: Knappertsbusch 1962, Barenboim or Thielemann (no order). DVD: Still waiting. Of the available choices, I´d narrowly prefer the Lehhoff/Nagano production from Baden-Baden.
And the runners-up: Simon Boccanegra, Elektra, Jenufa, Le damnation de Faust, The rake´s progress, A handmaid´s tale, Flying Dutchman, Lohengrin, Wozzeck, Tannhäuser, The magic flute, Peter Grimes, Samson et Dalila, Billy Budd, L´amour de loin, Prince Igor, Carmen.