Gian Carlo Menotti, The Consul (Heristal Entertainment). This hard-hitting opera about the horrors of life under totalitarian rule opened on Broadway in 1950 and ran for 269 performances, twice as long as Porgy and Bess. Alas, Decca’s original-cast album went out of print decades ago, was never transferred to CD, and is now a high-priced collector’s item. So what to do? Download this mp3-only reissue, savor the gripping performances of Patricia Neway, Marie Powers and Cornell MacNeil, and marvel at Menotti’s uncanny ability to cut to the dramatic heart of a scene. By the way, the “voice on the record” that you hear at the very beginning of the opera belongs to none other than Mabel Mercer (TT).