There's no role for baritone Daniel Okulitch in Puccini's all-female opera Suor Angelica. But it's still his favourite, because he cries every time. He walked Ben through Angelica, plus the other two mini opera's in Puccini's triptych, Il Trittico.
Conductor Anne Manson studied with the best: the late maestro Claudio Abbado. She talked to Ben about a recording that he made while she was his assistant: why it's great, and what it was like to be there in the room while history was made.
The Canadian Opera Company's music director Johannes Debus is known for his interpretations of the great Classical and Romantic operas. But when pressed about his favourite recording, he went earlier. A lot earlier. Back to one of the very first operas.
Tim Vernon fell in love with the music of Leoš Janáček on his student sojourn to Vienna. Upon returning to Canada, he was distressed to find that this composer's operas were so infrequently performed. But he can always take solace in a classic recording.
Judith Forst is a true elder statesperson of Canadian opera. Her pick for the best opera recording ever is Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge's interpretation of Bellini's Norma. It brings back memories of working with those two luminaries.
Henry Purcell died before he saw his opera The Indian Queen performed. Today, only a fragment of it remains. But that didn't keep opera's provocateur-in-residence, Peter Sellars, from patching it back together. He told Ben Heppner about how that worked.
Superstar bass-baritone Bryn Terfel owes a lot to his elder compatriot Sir Geraint Evans. In this episode, Terfel talks to Ben about Evans' legendary recording of Verdi's Falstaff, and how the late Welsh legend championed him as a young singer.
Barbara Hannigan sat in the audience while Kent Nagano and his gigantic ensemble rehearsed for their production of Saint François d'Assise by Messiaen. It stuck with her. Now she tells Ben about why the recording of that production is her number one pick.
Maestro Carlos Kleiber gave very few performances. But that didn't stop him from becoming the most acclaimed conductor of the 20th century. Vancouver Opera's Jonathan Darlington selected Kleiber's recording of Weber's Der Freischütz as his favourite ever.
Maria Callas's 1953 recording of Tosca by Puccini is one of the shining beacons of opera's recorded history. But for Sondra Radvanovsky, it was even bigger than that. For this acclaimed soprano, there was life before Callas's Tosca, and life after.
Adrianne Pieczonka chose Georg Solti's 1968 recording of Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier as her all-time fave. She told Ben about what she loves in this recording: great singing, great playing, and the sense that there's Viennese whipped cream all over it.