Common consensus on classical/opera recording title language

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Following several fixes to a Tristan und Isolde opera release, the question came up what the common consensus for classical/opera recording titles is w.r.t. the language used.

The release in question is currently the sole release for all referenced recordings. The booklet is primarily held in English, thus English is the main language. Accordingly, for the title parts “Act” and “Scene” the English words were used in the edits as in other international/English opera releases (previously, “Aufzug” for act was used and the scene was missing, although clearly mentioned in the booklet). The corrected track titles were also copied to the recordings, following the official guideline for recording titles with a single release.

The release label can be considered a budget label, and the track listing contains a few typos and slight differences such as the German “ß” is in one case replaced by “ss”.

To my understanding, with normalisation taken into account and otherwise following the official guidelines, the described steps for deriving the recording titles should be correct.

One editor disagrees in edit #74756104, mentions the lack of a clear guideline and vaguely refers to an editor consensus to instead use the language in which the opera is sung or staying close to the work. The sole release is discarded as a source for the titles due to the label being considered a budget label. Referring to the generic official guidelines for these (classical) recordings is even described by this editor as “absurd”, although there is no specific classical guideline for recordings and to my understanding the CSG is a set of exceptions over the standard guidelines. In the end, all edits were forced to fail with a 1 against 1 vote for not following a seemingly personal opinion.

While I personally do not mind if titles of classical/opera recordings follow the sung language or work, a personal opinion is a weak argument and hinders future participation without a clear guideline.

This brings me to my question :smiley:
What is the majority opinion on this? Should the official guidelines be followed, or are there indeed no guidelines that apply to classical recordings and it all boils down to personal preference, or is there some common consensus among editors that deviates from the generic guidelines? In the latter case, a classical guideline topic for recordings could help other editors to follow common practice.


I agree that we really need new, better guidelines for classical and specifically for opera. Instead of making an effort to discuss and improve these (way from perfect, but existing) guidelines, they have simply disappeared. My main concern is that in the absence of specific classical guidelines (like here for recordings) people unfamiliar with classical guidelines will assume that the generic (pop) guideline should – must – be applied to classical releases. Doing so for sheet-based music, which predates the very first Recordings by decades if not centuries, is – I maintain my opinion – absurd. edit #74756104

On a side note, the discussion (and my vote) was not about adding new information, but changing, without good enough reason, (IMO better) data added previously by some other editor.

I voted “yes” for the edits in question. I don’t pretend my opinion is a final Truth, it is just an opinion.

We have here 3 related, but distinct entities: tracks, recordings and works.

Tracks are related to a particular release. As such it makes sense to enter them as printed, with exception of obvious typo or factual errors. In case of factual errors (for example, a wrong catalogue number) I usually enter corrected data as a track title, and left an annotation explaining why the track title printed on the CD cover is wrong. The latter (correcting factual errors) is not covered by the style guide, but until now it was never voted down by other editors.

Works are independent of any release, they are related only to the composer. Here the primary source are catalogues and printed score. There could be some corner cases, for example whether a comprehensive catalogue or a first edition has a precedence if they contradict each other, but in most cases the consensus about the work name is clear.

This leaves us with the recording name, and this is the tricky one. On one hand, recording represent tracks which may appear on different releases under different track names. On cover of one release opus numbers are printed, on another not; the track name on one release is in English, on another in French, on third in Russian, on fourth in Chinese. On the other hand, a recording represents some work. The relationship between recordings and works is also not always one-to-one: there are cases when a recording contains multiple works, and other cases when a recording contains just a part of a work. Especially for operas partial recordings are pretty often, and for some composers like Wagner, where the composer himself did not provided any small parts, each release splits works on recordings differently.

There is no specific classical style guide how to choose names of recordings. I agree with @takerukoushirou that if there is no specific style guide, than the generic style guide applies: “The recording title should generally be based on the titles of tracks using that recording”. In the case described above there was just one track for the recording, so the recording name shall be identical to the sole track name. As a consequence, I voted “yes” for the changes.

An alternative rule “base recording name on the work name” with extensions for partial or combined recordings is definitely possible, but it is not covered by the current style guide.

This is the intended effect and the reason the more specific guideline was removed - the intention was specifically to make it so that recordings generally follow the tracklist of releases in the same way they do for non-classical, while works are standard.