Like 'seaside sam' I bought this set initially for just one opera, Admeto, and baulked initially at the price until I realised that it bought you a massive 15 CDs (do the maths!). I hadn't even heard of most of these operas but was amazed at how wonderful they are. Fernando has become my current favorite but they grow on me the more I hear them. There is some truly thrilling singing. Alan Curtis, in his arrangements, has taken the trouble to ensure that these masterpieces aren't lost to us. This version avoids the 'low-budget' sound where a minimal number of musicians are used with the priority being 'authenticity' and the results being 'serious' rather than enjoyable. This has a rich, sweet orchestral sound. Alan Curtis keeps the pace going through the recitativo pieces by the sheer quality of the singing.
Contras? Well, while I appreciate the practicality of having the libretti on a single Cd, they are in a particularly annoying 4 column format which doesn't fit well in a netbook window. The protected PDF text can't be selected for putting into a more user-friendly format and, although the PDF can be transferred to a Kindle, the paragraphs get mixed up if you use mobipocket or you have to use a 300x magnification to read them which means using the 5-way controller a great deal to navigate the page. However the libretti do give lots of details including interesting facts about the current arrangement and the history of the opera. The electronic format means I can read these intros without a magnifying glass. This intro to each opera is in English, French, Italian and German but the translations of the libretti are in English only. They are however well translated with the translater producing text in rhyme and meter with the music so that it can be used instead of the italian text..
My second contra is (understandably, given their scarcity) many, though not all, of the countertenor parts have been given to sopranos who, while they do an excellent job of tackling a male role, don't have quite the same effect. For those of you who dislike the countertenor sound, this could be considered a pro! Still, these contras can't outweigh the pleasure this set is giving me so can't cost a star.