The Norman Lebrecht Award for Overzealous Classical Doomsaying goes this week to the New York Times, for today's article "Twilight of the CD Gods? A Studio 'Tristan' May Be the Last Ever." Lebrecht is, of course, the excitable and unreliable English writer who declared at the beginning of last year that 2004 would spell the end of classical recording. Oops. Now writes the otherwise discerning Michael White: "This probably represents the end of the line for large-scale studio recordings of familiar operas." Why, if matters are at such a dire pass, do CDs of operas both famous (René Jacobs' award-winning Figaro) and unknown (forthcoming on Virgin Classics, Vivaldi's Il Bajazet) continue to pour in? These recordings evidently don't count because they are on Harmonia Mundi, Astrée, and Virgin Classics, not on the so-called "major labels." Yes, most of them are live, not studio, but that's no sign of decline. Advances in digital technology have made million-dollar studio boondoggles unnecessary: you can patch together a splendid tape from live performances, and, in the bargain, you will probably get more spontaneous playing. (See DG's great live Tristan this year with Voigt and Thielemann.) So where's the twilight? Where's the doom? What this Placido Domingo Tristan may spell the end of is the era of egregiously expensive, artistically superfluous recording projects that exist to satisfy an overpaid star's vanity rather than the demands of the marketplace. High-level opera singers, like high-level orchestras, have priced themselves out of the market, and other, more resourceful artists have taken their place. But I doubt we've really seen the end of the dinosaurs. My guess is that "final opera recording ever" is simply EMI's marketing plan for this particular release.