RCA 503223 (12 disks)

Today the opera world has the brilliant beautiful soprano Anna Netrebko —a half century ago it was American Anna Moffo (1932 - 2006), a reigning prima donna at the Met for 17 years. Early in her career she had great successes in Europe. Moffo was a very beautiful woman with a remarkable voice that was rich , powerful and wide-range. In Italy she was a great favorite where she made many TV appearances and was pronounced "one of the most beautiful women in Italy." Whue there she made several EMI recordings including Musetta in Mariia Callas's 1956 La Boheme. Moffo made her Met debut in November 1959 in La traviata to great acclaim, and sang well over 200 performances at the Met. Traviata was her major role, but she also sang Lucia, Marguerite, Nedda, Cio-cio San, Gilda, and Rosina. Moffo's last performance was at the Met Centennial in October 1983 when she sang music by Romberg with Robert Merrill who also was retiring. This site mentioned her Italian videos of La Sonnambula and La traviata (REVIEW). There also is a live La Scala recording of Traviata with Karajan on the podium when Moffo strepped in at the last minute for an indisposed Mir ella Freni.

Towards the end of her career, perhaps from overwork, Moffo's voice deteriorated considerably. Her last recording was Massenet's Thais, mercifully no longer available. It seems surprising that this was issued; doubtless the fact that her then husband, Richard Sarnoff, was retired Chairman of RCA, was a factor. At any rate, this superb new compilation contains some of her finest singing. The twelve disks, each in its own jacket with the cover of the original release and usually program notes as well. We have all of her recital records, the wonderful disk with Leopold Stokkowski of Canteloube, Rachmaninoff and Villa-Lobos, and the outstanding Verdi Collaboration recordings (never before issued on CD) made in Italy in 1962 (it is surprising the Trovatore aria omits the cabaletta). I have heard that much more was recorded during these sessions. If they still exist, I wonder why they weren't included? We also have scenes from Massenet's Manon, excerpts from several of her complete opera recordings (with tenors Richard Tucker, Alfredo Krauss, Carlo Bergonzi, Giuseppe di Stefano, Cesare Valetti,), pop songs accompanied by Skitch Henderson, a disk of songs of Debussy, highlights from Die Fledermaus in which Moffo is Rosalinde (along with Richard Lewis, Jeanette Scovotti, George London, Rïse Stevens and Sergio Franchi).

This is an inexpensive way to hear the artistry of a major American soprano of the last century.

R.E.B. (Octobert 2016)