The first volume of the Audio Encyclopedia devoted to a single composer is AE003, The Operas of Richard Wagner. The single disc contains a complete performance of each of the operas in monaural sound. The operas, conductors and principal cast members are:
Title Conductor Selected cast members
Die Feen Edward Downes John Mitchinson, Paul Hudson ; April Cantelo
Das Liebesverbot Edward Downes Raimund Herincx, Alexander Young, Ian Caley, Neil Jenkins
Rienzi Edward Downes John Mitchinson, Michael Langdon; Lorna Haywood
Der Fliegende Holländer David Lloyd-Jones Norman Bailey; Stafford Dean; Gwyneth Jones
Tannhäuser Artur Rodzinski Karl Liebl, Eberhard Wächter; Gre Brouwenstijn
Lohengrin Lovro von Matacic Fritz Uhl; Victoria de los Angeles, Christa Ludwig
The Ring Wolfgang Sawallisch Theo Adam, Jean Cox; Nadezda Kniplova
Tristan und Isolde Horst Stein Spass Wenkoff, Donald McIntyre; Katerina Ligendza
Die Meistersinger von Nüremberg Reginald Goodall Norman Bailey, Alberto Remedios; Margaret Curphey
Parsifal Simon Rattle Poul Elming, Robert Lloyd; Violeta Urmana
A more extensive cast list is provided here.
The disc includes complete German-language libretti keyed to the music and biographies of many of the soloists. While most performances lack the sound quality and stellar names of other recordings, each is a worthy realization of the score which is not in wide circulation. The primary purpose of the disc is to embody in a single volume a synoptic view of Wagner's evolution; such an overview is difficult to obtain with the large number of discs in conventional formats.
Jim Bodge has noted some corrections and omissions to information on the disc:
HOLLÄNDER: This is a BBC Telecast in English, not an ENO production. The Steersman's full name is Robert Ferguson
TANNHÄUSER: What's the venue and year? I suspect it is RAI-Rome in the very late 50s. Artur Rodzinski conducts. Also, who is the Landgraf , Biterolf and Shepherd.
TRISTAN: (Bayreuth 1977) The Shepherd is sung by Heinz Kruse and the Steersman by Heinz Feldhoff. (You had to be a Heinz to sing at Bayreuth that year - Heinz Zednik was doing Mime in the RING in those days. Do you suppose they had 57 of them around?)
MEISTERSINGER: This is the ENO, in English on 10 February 1968. The cast list says David Brecknock, the bio says John Brecknock. The bio is correct. There are 5 other small roles (Mastersingers) unnamed.
PARSIFAL: Amsterdam, 1997, conducted by Simon Rattle. Carston Stabell is a bass who sings parts like Fiesco and Fafner. Wolfgang Schöne has been singing Amfortas since the 1970s, as well as similar baritone repertory. I suspect these are the roles they are singing in this performance - the cast list on the CD is therefore reversed.
THE RING. The disc says the venue is Rome Radio (RAI) in the early 1970s, but that is just when it was broadcast. It's Rome alright, but no later than early spring of 1968. That's when the Mime, Erwin Wohlfahrt died - just after singing in Karajan's RHEINGOLD at Salzburg. It is definitely Wohlfahrt singing on the RAI recording, he sounds very much as he does on other recordings, though on best behavior - singing more and acting less. I support this dating by noting that Helga Dernesch and Janis Martin had moved into leading soprano roles such as Brünnhilde and Kundry by 1970 and would be unlikely to revert to mezzo parts such as Fricka and a Norn thereafter. Dernesch was very prominent as Brünnhilde, Isolde and Fidelio in the early 70s. Also, Karl Ridderbusch doesn't sing Hagen for RAI, a part he became known for as soon as he took it on, which wasn't till 1970. Gerd Nienstedt sang Gunther at Bayreuth in 1973 and 74, not a decade earlier as the bio has it. Jean Cox sang both Siegfrieds at Bayreuth annually from 1970 through 1976 - no one else did. He returned as the bio indicates for one isolated performance each in 1978 (SIEGFRIED) and in 1983 (GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG). Aili Purtonen is the correct spelling of the name of the woman singing Schwertleite.