This Naxos double CD is effectively a reworking of the original single CD release `The Best of Verdi', expanded to include more of the composer's music then attractively packaged with new artwork and a card slip-case cover showing an amusing caricature of the composer.
As with any `Best Of' compilation much of the composer's work will inevitably be omitted, but this collection does its best to provide a good representation of Verdi's (almost entirely operatic) music and includes excerpts from some of his finest works such as the operas `Rigoletto', `La Traviata' and `Aida'. The CD's 36 tracks run to a generous two hours and fifty minutes of what is widely regarded as today's greatest opera music, Verdi having dominated the opera scene for almost 150 years.
The sleeve notes are helpful for those wanting a little more than these highlights, for they provide recommended further listening (all Naxos label CD's of course!). But for those who do not wish to delve any deeper and are content with these types of collections there are a number of other Naxos `Very Best Of' releases featuring other composers, which together can form the basis of a respectable and reasonably comprehensive classical music CD library.
In summary, there are numerous `Best Of Opera' collections available on CD, many concentrating either on virtuoso highlights from the big names in opera singing, or else providing a cross section of opera music as a whole. However, this informative and attractively presented mid priced CD will give an excellent introduction to one of the most influential and perhaps greatest composers of 19th century Italian opera.
(The complete Naxos `Very best Of' series features Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Dvorak, Elgar, Grieg, Handel, Mozart, Puccini, Rachmaninov, Ravel, Satie, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Strauss (Johann) II, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Vivaldi).