Nigel Douglas's book Legendary Voices (Deutsch: 1992) gives engagingly appreciative accounts of 14 favourite singers, coupling a biographical sketch, and sometimes personal reminiscences, with a survey of their recordings. As far as I have seen, it received favourable reviews, including one by myself (November 1991, page 14) and now, lucky man, he has had it illustrated in the best possible way with a well-chosen anthology on CD.
The aim has appeared to be quite simply to provide an attractive and representative example in each instance, rather than to follow specific comments in the book. For instance, the most recent of the chosen singers is Fritz Wunderlich and the book has comments on many of his records, but not on the recording of Lensky's aria, which is heard here. With Tetrazzini, the Sonnambula aria, ''Ah, non giunge'', is indeed mentioned in the book but in the context of a well-pointed comparison with the other aria ''Ah! non credea mirarti'' (she is ''enough of an actress to cavort through her expression of bliss with a totally different sheen on the voice''). To support the point, the disc would have needed to give both arias. But then, the writer's main intention with both the book and the record has been to ''infect a few people with the bug of enthusiasm'', and, thus infected, they can then go and look into Tetrazzini's recorded legacy more thoroughly for themselves.
The transfers are representative examples of the Nimbus method: they have a generous bloom, are often startlingly vivid, and derive from immaculate originals. Most of the items are well known, but some will perhaps come as a pleasant surprise—the choice of the wide-ranging solo from