For almost 40 years Opera Rara has been a record label with a mission: to rediscover and rejuvenate neglected operatic repertoire from the 19th century in such a way as to bring it back into public consciousness with flair and fervour.

The label has always prided itself on its sense of style, its balance of head and heart with regard to casting. Stars have been established from these recordings, operas restored to their rightful place at the core of the repertoire.

Now Mark Elder - a passionate advocate of such repertoire - has undertaken to take the artistic directorship of the label to ambitious new heights. In this exclusive audio podcast he talks to Edward Seckerson about why he loves this repertoire so much and why casting and performing these jewels is such an exacting task.

We hear excerpts from the very latest releases under his baton: Donizetti's Linda di Chamounix and hot off the presses Maria di Rohan regarded by the late Donizetti expert William Ashbrook as the composer's "tautest, most melodramatic opera".

Of Elder's appointment, Stephen Revell, the label's managing director says: "We are indeed blessed that Sir Mark, one of today's most important maestros, has agreed to take on the role of artistic director. He shares my ambition for the label - his drive, ferocious energy, and inspired music making will lead Opera Rara to greater heights and we remain committed to performing and recording some of the great rare works that have been unjustly neglected over time.

"Working with Sir Mark has been a revelation. He makes the impossible possible and the difficult seem easy. Apart from being a great musician, he is a charming and civilised human being."