iTunes and Operas: How to Get Opera Discs in Order into iTunes – My iTunes CD Ripping Workflow

April 23, 2010DavidiTunes0

The joys of Classical Music and Opera — but not necessarily with iTunes.  One of the most frustrating things about  operas in iTunes is finding that after spending time tweaking your settings and importing all 4 discs of an opera, that the tracks are all over the place and not in the correct order.  In this post I’ll talk about how to make sure all of your operas stay in order in iTunes.  First, for a refresher on why you should manage your own iTunes folder structure and to see the way I handle operas in iTunes, read this post about organizing Operas in iTunes.

(For an EXTREMELY detailed, step-by-step illustrated guide, head to my other site, and check out our eBook, “A Digital Workflow for Classical Music and Opera CDs: Creating High-Quality Archives of your CDs for iTunes, the iPod and other Management Software and Players.” It’s low-priced at only $9.95, comes with free support, and has a FREE excerpt available for download).

As an opera lover, details for me are key — especially since like many of you, I own multiple versions of multiple operas.  So the first thing I start with (as discussed in the link above) is the appropriate folder structure.  For this example, let’s take the 55 Reiner Meistersinger; it’s a 4-disc set.

For a FREE, comprehensive and fully illustrated white paper on how to create MP3 CDs in track order using iTunes, visit and look for instructions in the right-column.

Here are the Steps for my iTunes Workflow

1.  Using the CD ripping process described in this post with EAC/LAME, I burn the first CD.  Once this CD is ripped, I create a folder with this title:

/Die Meistersinger-55-Reiner-CD1  (the “/” is just there to remind you that it’s a folder name)

(note that this folder is under the “Wagner, Richard” folder in my main music folder — I have a top level folder in my main music folder for each composer).

2.  Using Bulk Rename Utility I then rename the tracks so they follow the following naming convention:


and so on.

3.  I then use MP3 Tag to fix all of the tags and make everything consistent.

* Remember — mp3 tags are NOT the same as filenames.  You could have the cleanest filenames on earth and iTunes will still butcher your operas.  Make sure your filenames are intact for when you want to browse your music without iTunes (e.g. when you are browsing folders as if you were navigating through MyDocuments, for example), but make sure your TAGS are set correctly for iTunes.  This is a critical difference to understand.

Note that this folder-file naming convention for operas, in my opinion, accomplishes a few things.

1. When browsing the Albums in iTunes, you will be able to see “Die Meistersinger-55-Reiner-CD1”, “Die Meistersinger-55-Reiner-CD2”, etc. as the Album names so you can always find where you are in the opera (I hate when I can’t see on the album which disc of the opera I’m on).

2. When browsing the list of tracks in the opera, by having the “01”, “02” sequence, it forces iTunes to preserve the original order of the CD.

3. By having the “D1”, “D2”, after the track number, it forces iTunes to preserve the disc order.  Think about what would happen if you didn’t have a disc number.  You’d have track 01 from the first disc, then track 01 from the second disc, and so on.

Obviously you will find whatever order and nomenclature works for you when it comes to your operas and classical music.  No one system is best and you will probably wind up tweaking a combination of systems to find what works and what’s tolerable for you.   In summary, using this system above for Operas and Classical music allows you to maximize the chance that you will keep your operas in the order they were originally intended to be — whether you want to listen to one disc at a time, or combine the discs into a long playlist.

This whole article reminds me of the time I tried to put the Bohm ring Rheingold and Valkure Acts I and II on a single .mp3 disc and forgot to put the tracks in the correct order. It was quite the “name that tune” trying to figure out what was what (though I did better than I thought).

I’m curious to see what you think about this system and how I could improve it even further.  Drop a comment and let me know.

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