No More Pirates

Once upon a time live opera recordings were mostly pirate jobs. These days, the major labels are horning in on the pirates’ business. In the best cases, the results for home listeners are discs with the excitement you often don’t get in the recording studio and sound quality you simply never get from a cassette player under an overcoat. Sony Classical, with the gung-ho attitude befitting the latest contender in the big leagues, has been paying particular attention to the international operatic scene. Now out or imminent are three top attractions of remarkably recent date: the world-premiere production Alfred Schnittke’s scathing anti-Soviet satire Life With an Idiot, from the Netherlands Opera: Gluck’s lofty, rarely heard Iphigénie en Tauride, from La Scala, starring Carol Vaness under the baton of Riccardo Muti: and Prokofiev’s ambitious War and Peace, after Tolstoy, of course, from the Seattle Opera (also soon to be available on video). Curtain time!