Michael Sylvester’s Three Essential Recordings

By Francisco Salazar

Michael Sylvester was one of the most sought after tenors in the 1990s singing at all the major opera houses in the world. While he never achieved the fame other tenors of his generation had, Sylvester was still beloved throughout the opera world.

In the course of his 25-year career on the opera stage, he appeared in leading tenor roles at many of the world’s opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, La Fenice, the Paris Opera, and London’s Royal Opera House. He retired from performing in May 2001 and has since become a voice teacher.

In celebration of his birthday on born August 21, 1951, we look at three recordings that Sylvester left of his great artistry.  

 Messiaen: La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ

In 1990, alongside Antal Doráti, Sylvester recorded the tenor solo with the National Symphony Orchestra and the Westminster Symphonic Choir. The recording is still available on Decca Classics and considered one of the best of this rarely heard piece.

Puccini: Turandot

In 1994, San Francisco Opera record “Turandot” on Television with Sylvester in one his iconic roles. He sang alongside Eva Marton, who is noted as one of the greatest Icy Princesses of her time. The performance is conducted by Donald Runnicles and is currently available on Arthaus.

Verdi: Don Carlo

Sylvester performed the role of “Don Carlo” at the Metropolitan Opera six times and went on to record the title role in Verdi’s the company’s orchestra and chorus. The recording is conducted by James Levine with Aprile Millo, Samuel Ramey, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Dolora Zajick, Vladimir Chernov, Paul Plishka and Kathleen Battle. The CD is available on Sony Classical.


On This DaySpecial Features