Even when I survey only a representative sample of recordings rather than every one ever issued (virtually impossible, in any case) I end up sending off a good few of the shelf-cloggers to the charity shop, knowing I won't listen to them again. I took a look at the "Falstaff" and "Otello" discographies and realised that although I have many recordings of both which I really like, there were equally a lot that I knew I wouldn't or actively don't, so I fear any conspectus I did would be too personal and selective. For what it's worth, my favourite "Otello" is a dark horse: the Giacomini/Price/Manuguerra recording on Forlane conducted by Lombard (of all people), and also the live Erede performance in 1959 with Del Monaco, Tucci and Gobbi in Tokyo (of all places); I reviewed those on Amazon.
I am just finishing off the "Figaro" and, despite protestations to the contrary, have started another on a favourite blood'n guts blockbuster, "La Gioconda"; I wonder if its charms match your criteria for sensationalism? As for Wagner, that really does become daunting and expensive, depending on what one already owns, but a "Tristan" conspectus would interest me. I'll leave that for another time, methinks.
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