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Giacomo Puccini: A Discography [Hardcover]

Roger Flury

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Book Description

June 21 2012 0810881543 978-0810881549
Opera recordings have been with us since the creation of the first wax cylinders. Now at a time when the 25-year reign of the compact disc appears to be coming to an end is the moment to take stock of the history of recordings of arguably the most popular composer of operas, Giacomo Puccini. In Giacomo Puccini: A Discography, librarian and music historian Roger Flury looks at each opera chronologically from Le Villi to Turandot, followed by sections on Puccini's instrumental, chamber, orchestral, and solo vocal works. Details of each complete opera are listed by recording date, followed by excerpts in the order in which they occur in the opera. Recordings of each aria are listed alphabetically by the name of the artist. For ease of use, Flury establishes as the main criteria for inclusion those recordings assigned a commercial issue number and available for purchase. This book does not limit itself to mainstream recordings but includes as well 'unofficial' recordings taken from broadcasts or illegally recorded in theaters, ensuring that the audio recording history of Puccini is free of gaps. (Video and DVD issues, whether of staged performances or excerpts in concert, are not included unless they have been issued in a sound-only format.) This volume brings together information on nearly 10,000 recordings of Puccini's music. It provides a comprehensive overview of the recorded history of the composer's works and serves as a useful guide for the transfer of recordings from one format to another.

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Flury, a music librarian and discographer from New Zealand, has compiled a discography of recorded works by composer Giacomo Puccini. The composer's famous operas have been exhaustively recorded; Flury's organization of such a vast quantity of sound recordings into a coherent and useful product rivals one of the labors of Hercules. The discography consists of 'commercial audio recordings in disc format,' with noncommercial recordings admitted at the compiler's discretion. Even this choice of criteria does not cut the number of qualifying recordings significantly. Listed, for example, are over 450 complete recordings of La Boheme, with about 200 additional recordings of 'Musetta's Waltz.' The operas are arranged by title, with chapters listing other vocal music, chamber music, instrumental music, and miscellanea. Discographical data are clearly presented and follow the standards of such data presentation in, e.g., James Creighton's Discopaedia of the Violin, 1889-1971 (1974) and Ellingtonia: The Recorded Music of Duke Ellington and His Sidemen (5th ed., CH, Jul'08, 45-5911; 3rd ed., CH, Mar'89, 26-3826). Flury previously wrote Pietro Mascagni: A Bio-Bibliography (CH, Jul'01, 38-5900). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Comprehensive music collections; graduate students, researchers, and faculty. (CHOICE)

Giacomo Puccini: A Discography is one of the most massive undertakings of its type, an over 900-page, 5½-pound volume listing nearly 10,000 recordings. . . . The Puccini discography project began as a desire to know how many recordings had been made of the aria “Nessun dorma” from Turandot but, to the author’s surprise, no single available source could answer his inquiry. A ten-year project ensued, resulting in this comprehensive Puccini discography. On 9 December 1941 Cebotari recorded another group of Bohème excerpts with Helge Rosvaenge, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, and Karl Schmitt-Walter, with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hanns Steinkopf. Flury gives a complete list of the excerpts that were recorded, and lists three Preiser CD releases as though each contains all of the excerpts (entry 4.326). ... [T]he wealth of extremely reliable information in this discography will make it an essential resource for serious opera collectors and music libraries. Giacomo Puccini: A Discography is a major piece of research, and is highly recommended. (ARSC Journal)

I heartily recommend Flury’s book to any institution that has an interest in the history of operatic recordings. It should also be made known to collectors of operatic recordings, since they are the users who will spend hours looking through this fascinating compilation—and will then go broke trying to locate copies of those obscure recordings of which they had been unaware. Now, who will take on Verdi and Wagner? (Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association)

Giacomo Puccini: A Discography rightfully deserves to take its place in music libraries as a resource for future Puccini research, joining the work of Hopkinson, Kaye, Greenwald, Fairtile, and Schickling. It will serve as an essential guide for scholars, collectors of sound recordings, and as a welcome companion for those of us who are fans of Puccini, and who are no longer afraid to admit it. (Music Reference Services Quarterly)

The amount of detail in the operas is astonishing—full names with roles; labels with issue numbers and matrix numbers; recording dates; and reissues in all formats. ... The book[s]. . . layout is attractive. (Fanfare Magazine)

His work in this discography is a model for any researcher considering similar work, and the fruit of this labor of love is an essential holding for any music collection. (Fontes Artis Musicae)

This work is highly recommended for comprehensive music research libraries. (American Reference Books Annual)

Giacomo Puccini : A Discography is a work which will be frequently referenced. It is an example of solid research , in which detailed data are presented clearly. The book offers a comprehensive , usable and useful overview of the history recording of Puccini's work and belongs in the library of every opera lover. (Opera Nederland)

About the Author

Roger Flury has worked for more than 30 years in music libraries in Britain and New Zealand. He is president of the International Association of Music Libraries and has recorded over 100 programs for Radio New Zealand.

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5.0 out of 5 stars a masterpiece of research highly recommended June 28 2012
By Col William Russell - Published on
This is an exhaustive discography of Puccini's recordings and is well worth the price. 78s are listed with recording dates (at least the year), label number, and matrix number along with releases on 78s, LPs, and CDs. Many discographies often omit live performances as well as many former Soviet Melodiya recordings. As to the latter, a spot check shows many, especially Metropolitan Opera broadcasts, and also gives the label for those.

Occasionally there is an error but it is based on the label information not a result of research. For example, the Bella Voce BUTTERFLY (107.247) is not the Met broadcast listed on the label but is one from San Francisco with Scotto and Carreras. Likewise, a FANCIULLA on Melodram 27081 is not a Philadelphia 1964 performance but the Met broadcast of 1966 with the same principals. But, in a book this massive and comprehensive, the author can hardly be expected to double-check every label cited. He also, rightly, neglects to list several low-quality CD labels such as Encore and Immortal Performances (an inferior label not to be confused with the superb British Canadian label).

The book is a masterpiece and belongs in every operaphile's library. Not cheap or light it is worth having although the several-pound weight won't make it attractive for bedtime browsing. Highly recommended! Now may we hope for a similar Wagner Discography?
4.0 out of 5 stars The author and/or publisher should have a website from which one can update this wonderful tome. Perhaps one will be created in July 24 2014
By JMH - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is a MUST for any opera enthusiast. Not only does it list complete commercial and noncommercial Puccini opera recordings, it also lists highlight recordings and even arias from the operas. Yes, you can see who recorded Che Gelida Manina, Nessun Dorma, etc. The only downside to the book, and any book of this nature, is that it can become dated shortly after its publication. The author and/or publisher should have a website from which one can update this wonderful tome. Perhaps one will be created in the future. Despite this, the Discography is a treasure to own.

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