Prompted by the unease that came with "Compression/Expansion," I set out yesterday to count all the opera/vocal sets in The Collection. I had to be helped from the floor after falling in shock. In various forms (original or otherwise), I discovered around 1700 pieces of CD with studio recordings of complete operas, 2800 of live performances, and about 1200 recital and vocal discs. The total of 5700 translates into a staggering 6175 hours of song (at a reasonable 65 minutes per disc).
If I decide to listen to all of it once through, kick it off at the moment the Met season begins in September, and sit in front of the speakers 24/7, I won't be available for brunch till after the curtain falls on the closing opera of its season in May. If I compromise and allow the recommended daily 8-hour sleep, the endeavor would exceed the calendar year by 20 days. Re-entering the real world (welcome back, you've been away a long time): given that on a typical day I listen to about three to four hours of opera, I'd need at least 4 1/2 years to go through it all exactly once. A further dose of possibility would be to supplement whatever I really want to hear (Pelleas these days, for e.g.) with one disc from The Collection every day. The supreme odyssey will exceed 15 years.
OK, it doesn't escape the bitchy that this all happens under the assumption that I never buy a disc again in my life.
14 January 2005