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Historical Reissue Classical CDs, LPs, 78s,
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Since 1972

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Canada's Immortal Performances'

JON VICKERS Memorial,

with VIRGINIA ZEANI's AIDA . . .

YVES St Laurent's

ANCERL at Tanglewood & BOULEZ in Cleveland . . .

Aquarius' new FRA DIAVOLO with Lemeshev . . .

and our regular 50% sale continues



  • JON VICKERS MEMORIAL . . . includes . . .

  • AÏDA, Live Performance, 11 Oct., 1965, w. Zubin Mehta Cond. Opéra de Montréal Ensemble; Virginia Zeani, Jon Vickers, Lili Chookasian, Victor Braun, Thomas Paul, etc. [recorded by this production's stage manager, Irving Guttman, the sound is clear but rather shallow due to the lack of upstage mikes];

  • CARMEN, Live Performance, 5 July, 1968, w.Georges Prêtre Cond. Teatro Colón Ensemble; Grace Bumbry, Jon Vickers, Robert Merrill, Joan Carlyle, etc.; [well recorded by the Teatro Colón for broadcast];

  • JON VICKERS & GIULIETTA SIMIONATO: AÏDA - Judgment Scene (Act IV), Bell Telephone Hour, 5 May, 1964. (Canada) 4-Immortal Performances IPCD 1056, accompanied by elaborate 46pp. booklet. Transfers by Richard Caniell. Notes by Stanley Henig & Richard Caniell. (OP3177)

    “The Canadian tenor Jon Vickers brought a colossal voice and raw dramatic intensity to everything he sang, including legendary portrayals of Wagner’s Tristan, Verdi’s Otello, Beethoven’s Florestan and Britten’s Peter Grimes, had few rivals. Yet, even in subdued passages, whether posing questions as the clueless title character of Wagner’s PARSIFAL or singing tender phrases of a Schubert song, Mr. Vickers’ voice had penetrating body and depth. For all his power, he was a master at singing high pianissimo phrases with ethereal beauty. Making every word he sang matter was another hallmark of his artistry.

    Mr. Vickers’ first performances at the Metropolitan Opera came in early 1960, singing Canio in Leoncavallo’s PAGLIACCI, Florestan in Beethoven’s FIDELIO and Siegmund in Wagner’s WALKÜRE, all within two months. It was on the Met stage in 1967 that Mr. Vickers introduced what many consider his greatest achievement, the title role of Britten’s PETER GRIMES, conducted by Colin Davis and directed by Tyrone Guthrie. He sang more than 280 total performances at the Met, including the company premiere of LES TROYENS in 1973, and the title roles of Verdi’s OTELLO and Wagner’s PARSIFAL.”


    - Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 12 July, 2015


    “[Virgini Zeani], a Romanian opera star, was just one of a group of outstanding sopranos condemned to pursue their careers in the shadow of Callas, Tebaldi and Sutherland….Zeani is revealed as a totally dependable singer. The voice is lovely, if slightly of occluded quality and the scale even and well balanced through a wide range. Her interpretations are finely judged and often quite individual….Definitely an enjoyable experience.”


  • - Vivian A. Liff, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Sept./Oct., 2009


  • KAREL ANCERL Cond. Boston S.O.: MA VLAST (Smetana), Live Performance, 8 Aug., 1969, Tanglewood[The first complete performance by the Boston Symphony Orchestra (under a stormy sky, thunder included)!] (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-340. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1436)

    “Having studied conducting and composition at the Prague Conservatory, Karel Ancerl was Hermann Scherchen's assistant conductor in a 1931 production of Alois Hába's opera THE MOTHER. Ancerl later studied conducting with Scherchen and worked with Talich. In 1933, Ancerl started conducting for Prague Radio, also establishing himself as a stage conductor. When Nazi Germany occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939, Ancerl was dismissed from his job and interned in concentration camps. While Ancerl’s initiative was the first of its kind in Terezín, by 1944 there were an additional four orchestras, and several smaller ensembles active in the camp. Ancerl’s string orchestra flourished until October of 1944, when Ancerl and the majority of the musicians he conducted were deported to Auschwitz.

    The only member of his family to survive concentration camps, Ancerl resumed his career in 1945, conducting the Prague Opera from 1945 to 1948. After directing the Czech Radio Orchestra from 1947 to 1950, Ancerl took over the Czech Philharmonic. During his time with the Czech Philharmonic, Ancerl's career flourished as he took his orchestra all over the world, receiving critical praise for his refined performances of the standard classical repertoire. In addition, he conducted many prominent European orchestras, also serving as guest conductor with the London Philharmonic in 1967. In 1968, when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, Ancerl left the country, eventually settling in Toronto. The following year, he became music director of the Toronto Symphony and his impact there was very significant: he expanded the orchestra's repertoire, performing works by important Czech composers, including Smetana, Martinu, and Suk. In addition, Ancerl's impressive recording legacy includes performances of music by Mozart, Brahms, Mahler, and Stravinsky. Ancerl died in 1973.”


  • - Zoran Minderovic, allmusic.com


  • PIERRE BOULEZ Cond. Cleveland S.O.: Symphony #3 in D (Schubert), Live Performance, 18 March, 1971, Severance Hall; Manfred - Overture; Symphony #3 in E-flat (both Schumann), Live Performance, 17 July, 1971, Blossom Music Festival. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-348. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1437)

    “’Audacity, innovation, creativity — that is what Pierre Boulez was for French music, which he helped shine everywhere in the world’.

    Mr. Boulez belonged to an extraordinary generation of European composers who emerged in the postwar years while still in their 20s. They started a revolution in music, and Mr. Boulez was in the front ranks.

    But his influence was equally large on the podium. In time he began giving ever more attention to conducting, where his keen ear and rhythmic incisiveness could produce a startling clarity. (There are countless stories of him detecting faulty intonation, say, from the third oboe in a complex piece.) He reached his peak as a conductor in the 1960s, when he began to appear with some of the world’s great orchestras, like the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra. By the early ’70s, he had succeeded Leonard Bernstein as music director of the New York Philharmonic, an appointment that startled the music world and led to a fitful tenure. It was his reputation as an avant-garde composer and as a champion of new music that prompted his unexpected appointment in New York. After the initial shock at his arrival, there was hope that he might bring the orchestra into the 20th century and appeal to younger audiences. But his programming often met with hostility in New York, and he left quietly six years later. ‘I had to learn about that music, to find out how it was made’, he once told OPERA NEWS. ‘It was a revelation - a music for our time, a language with unlimited possibilities. No other language was possible. It was the most radical revolution since Monteverdi. Suddenly, all our familiar notions were abolished. Music moved out of the world of Newton and into the world of Einstein’. To start on this route, he took lessons in 1945-46 with René Leibowitz, a Schönbergian who had settled in Paris. Soon he was integrating what had been separate paths of development in the music of the previous 40 years: Schönberg’s serialism, Stravinsky’s rhythmic innovations and Messiaen’s enlarged notion of mode. As Mr. Boulez saw it, all these composers had failed to pursue their most radical impulses, and it fell to a new generation - specifically, to him - to pick up the torch.

    ‘He never ceased to think about subjects in relation to one another; he made painting, poetry, architecture, cinema and music communicate with each other, always in the service of a more humane society’, the office of President François Hollande said in a statement. Even so, the achievements embodied in his published works and recordings are formidable, and his influence was incalculable. The tasks he took on were heroic: to continue the great adventure of musical modernism, and to carry with him the great musical institutions and the widest possible audience.”


  • - Paul Griffiths, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 6 Jan., 2016


  • FRA DIAVOLO (in Russian), Live Performance, 29 March, 1955, w.Khaikin Cond. Bolshoi Opera Ensemble; Sergei Lemeshev, Nina Guselnikova, Pavel Volovov, Elena Gribova, Andrei Sokolov, etc. (Russia) 2-Aquarius AQVR 396. [Most appealing to hear Lemeshev & Guselnikova in this delightful French opera. The sound quality is vibrant, always conveying the sense of ‘occasion’, obviously recorded from the prompter's box.] (OP3175)

    “In Russia, Sergei Yakovlevich Lemeshev (1902-1977) is—along with Feodor Chaliapin— perhaps the most beloved opera singer in recent history. He was born into a very poor peasant family, in a small village, duringthe years of the Bolshevik revolution and the Civil war, and Lemeshev was required to become a cadet in the Red Army Cavalry School. It was, however, actually the Revolution that helped him make his dream of an operatic career come true, since the Bolsheviks gave the poorest peasants and proletarians a preferential right to free education. Sergei was assigned to study at the Moscow Conservatory where, after surviving a rigorous competition, he was accepted. (This determined his political views, for as he said many times, ‘the Soviets gave me everything’.) In 1931, he became a leading tenor of the Bolshoi, where he sang for the next 34 years, winning great acclaim. His audience grew, along with his fame, and he soon gained a veritable army of fans, called ‘lemeshevists’. His vocal and artistic qualities, evident to every listener, are beauty of timbre, musicality, effortlessness of vocal production, expressiveness, and very clear diction, qualities perhaps most commonly found in bel canto singers. An interesting comment on Lemeshev’s singing was made by the Bolshoi tenor Anatoly Orfenov: ‘He developed a mixed voice of incomparable beauty, which made it possible for him to take the highest notes with such beautiful richness that even specialists could not explain how it was done technically….His high C’s … sounded virile and full…His manner of lowering his larynx a bit on high notes allowed him to perform the parts which we ordinary lyric tenors did not sing’.”


  • - Natalie, "younglemeshevist"


    . . . repeated from the recent past . . .

  • ARTURO TOSCANINI Cond. BBC S.O., w.Zinka Milanov, Kerstin Thorborg, Helge Roswaenge & Nicola Moscona: MANZONI REQUIEM (Verdi); ARTURO TOSCANINI Cond. BBC S.O.: Symphony #4 in B-flat (Beethoven). (Canada) 2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1058, Live Performance, 27 May, 1938, Queens’ Hall, London, featuring BBC broadcast commentary and ovations, best sound over all previous editions. Extensive notes. Transfers by Richard Caniell. (C1433)

    “The Immortal Performances restoration of the 1938 Verdi Requiem BBC S.O. is startlingly better than Testament and shows what has been greatly missing until now - its fine presence and frequency range.”


    - Christopher Dyment, author of TOSCANINI IN BRITAIN


    "Recently, Mr. Caniell’s attention returned to this BBC 1938 Verdi Requiem broadcast previously released in a good transfer by Testament, though our sound engineer had different ideas of how it should sound. Testament’s exceedingly wide distribution cancelled his intent to work on, and release, the BBC until now, 10 years later. During these intervening years of enlarged experience with restoration techniques, Mr. Caniell re-affirmed that while the Testament edition was good, its sound was compressed in a way that could be made far better.

    Mr. Caniell’s transfer is taken from the tapes given to him by Richard Gardner, Toscanini’s sound editor. Mr. Caniell writes in his Recording Notes: 'What you have in your hands is the result of my endeavor to open up the tonal spectrum, reduce the thick bottom end, and enliven the performance by restoring lost overtones. In addition, I endeavored to further restore the dynamics between piano and forte, recreating, so far as possible, the heaven-storming crescendi that the Old Man achieved with the BBC forces.”


  • - Program Notes


  • ARTURO TOSCANINI Cond. NBC S.O.: Voyevoda - Overture;' 'Pathétique' Symphony #6 in b (plus rehearsal extracts); w. Vladimir Horowitz: Piano Concerto #1 in b-flat (all Tschaikowsky). (Canada) Immortal Performances IPCD 1051, Live ‘All-Tchaikovsky Benefit Concert’, 19 April, 1941. Essay about the Performance by Robert Matthew-Walker; Transfers and Essay about the Rehearsal by Richard Caniell. Best sound over all previous editions. Extensive notes, broadcast commentary and ovations. (C1435)

    “This 1941 broadcast of the Sixth Symphony and Piano Concerto was released by us through Naxos, but they omitted the VOYEVODA and the commentary without our knowledge or permission, and the sound was denigrated in a loss of overtones, in some sound compression of the tuttis and in a thickening of the bottom end, hence this release of the complete concert.

    Our original tape of this broadcast from RCA recording engineer Richard Gardner revealed the transfer from the lacquers to be good, the surface noise sporadic and not excessive and the dynamics needing only a little emphasis to reverse the leveling which the original broadcast engineers imparted to the sound transmission. Its many pitch problems were solved by the young conductor John Sullivan, who is our music consultant. We believe the ‘All-Tchaikovsky Benefit Concert’ to be a worthy addition to our knowledge of Toscanini’s involvement with these works and represented the first occasion when Horowitz and Toscanini collaborated in the First Piano Concerto.”


  • - Richard Caniell, Program Notes


  • LES PÊCHEURS DE PERLES (in Russian), recorded 1950, w.Bron Cond. Moscow Radio Ensemble; Nadezhda Kazantseva, Sergei Lemeshev, Vladimir Zakharov, etc. (Russia) 2-Aquarius AQVR 394. (OP3176)

    “Nadezhda Kazantseva made her début at age 17 and was engaged by the Bolshoi Opera in 1932. She became an instant success in lyric and coloratura soprano rôles, such as Lakmé, Gilda & Violetta. She was named a People’s Artist of the USSR in 1950.”


    - VRCS Program Notes, 1992 LP issue


    “In Russia, Sergei Yakovlevich Lemeshev (1902-1977) is—along with Feodor Chaliapin— perhaps the most beloved opera singer in recent history. He was born into a very poor peasant family, in a small village, during the years of the Bolshevik revolution and the Civil war, and Lemeshev was required to become a cadet in the Red Army Cavalry School. It was, however, actually the Revolution that helped him make his dream of an operatic career come true, since the Bolsheviks gave the poorest peasants and proletarians a preferential right to free education. Sergei was assigned to study at the Moscow Conservatory where, after surviving a rigorous competition, he was accepted. (This determined his political views, for as he said many times, ‘the Soviets gave me everything’.) In 1931, he became a leading tenor of the Bolshoi, where he sang for the next 34 years, winning great acclaim. His audience grew, along with his fame, and he soon gained a veritable army of fans, called ‘lemeshevists’. His vocal and artistic qualities, evident to every listener, are beauty of timbre, musicality, effortlessness of vocal production, expressiveness, and very clear diction, qualities perhaps most commonly found in bel canto singers. An interesting comment on Lemeshev’s singing was made by the Bolshoi tenor Anatoly Orfenov: ‘He developed a mixed voice of incomparable beauty, which made it possible for him to take the highest notes with such beautiful richness that even specialists could not explain how it was done technically….His high C’s … sounded virile and full…His manner of lowering his larynx a bit on high notes allowed him to perform the parts which we ordinary lyric tenors did not sing’.”


  • - Natalie, "younglemeshevist"


  • L'AIGLON (Honegger & Ibert), recorded 11 Jan., 1956, w.Dervaux Cond. Géori-Boué, Xavier Depraz, Roger Bourdin, Lucien Lovano, Joseph Peyron, Lillane Berton, erc. (France) Malibran 792. (OP3174)

    “In 1900 Edmond Rostand wrote a play entitled L’AIGLON, featuring Sarah Bernhardt, based on the life of the Duke of Reichstadt, Napoléon Bonaparte’s son. Following his father’s death, the young man became a virtual prisoner of Chancellor Metternich at the Hapsburg court in Austria. In 1852, Victor Hugo wrote a poem, ‘Napoléon II’, in which he called the Duke ‘aiglon’ or eaglet (his father being the Eagle). Rostand described his play as being simply ‘the story of a poor child.’ This is only partly true.

    His play was created in March 1900, a time when France was in the midst of the so-called Dreyfus affair and was threatened by the belligerent new German Empire. Jacques Ibert and Arthur Honegger’s opera, L’AIGLON was composed two years before World War II. In both cases, France realised it was on the cusp of a world conflict, with a hostile, warmongering Germany. France needed to rearm itself both materially and morally, and artistic creators mobilised themselves. Honegger and Paul Claudel created JEANNE D’ARC AU BÛCHER; film director Carl Dreyer produced the PASSION DE JEANNE D’ARC, while fellow director, Abel Gance produced his 1927 masterpiece, NAPOLÉON (for which Honegger composed the music). Rostand’s play is obviously a personal drama but it is also a reflection on patriotism, honour, manipulation and morality. With L’AIGLON, Honegger and Ibert adroitly use the past as a means to illuminate the future.

    L’AIGLON is one of the few operas written jointly by two composers. In 1936, the director of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, Raoul Gunsbourg wanted to present an opera based on Rostand’s play. The choice of the composer was a difficult one but two names stood out : Jacques Ibert and Arthur Honegger. The two composers were friends, and they ultimately decided to collaborate on the score.

    In a 1937 article in FIGARO, Honegger explained the work’s challenges and mandate: ‘Our work has an undeniable originality; that of bringing together on the same musical collaboration, two composers of the same generation….The determining factor of this collaboration was a mutual desire to try and create a work with a popular and direct character’.

    In reality, artistic choices were dictated by the composers’ respective personalities: Ibert wrote acts I and V, in which finesse, emotion and restraint predominate while Honegger took on acts II and IV, with their drama and heroism. The third act was composed jointly. The resulting work is intense and moving. The major challenge was to maintain a musical balance while constantly sustaining the dramatic progression so dear to Honegger’s heart and also communicating the elegance and subtlety of Ibert’s writing. The fourth act in particular contains an epic sweep and great dramatic tension (in a dream, the protagonist, surrounded by an army of ghosts, relives the battle of Wagram). The final act, in which the dying hero is serenaded by a series of popular French songs, is imbued with emotion.

    This jointly conceived work depicts an Aiglon whose ‘clothes are too large for the young man….’ And so, just as in the play, a woman interprets the title role. Not only have Honegger and Ibert succeeded in retaining their individual musical personalities, but they have also done so without compromising the homogeneity of the complete work. The triumphant premiere of L’AIGLON took place on 10 March, 1937, at l’Opéra de Monte-Carlo with a star-studded cast that included the soprano Fanny Heldy as L’Aiglon, the bass-baritone Vanni-Marcoux as Séraphin Flambeau and the baritone Arthur Endrèze as Metternich.”


  • - Richard Turp, LA SCENA MUSICALE, 1 Feb., 2015


  • DER ROSENKAVALIER, Live Performance, 26 Dec., 1959, (replete with Milton Cross’ commentary), w.Leinsdorf Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Christa Ludwig, Lisa Della Casa, Elisabeth Söderström, Oskar Czerwenka, Eugenio Fernandi, etc.; DER ROSENKAVALIER – Scenes, w.Basile Cond. Los Angeles Phil., Live Performance, 12 March, 1959; Lisa Della Casa, Mildred Miller & Dorothy Warenskjold; DOROTHY WARENSKJOLD, w.Pierre Monteux Cond. San Francisco Opera Orchestra: Arias by Debussy, Charpentier & Alfano from Standard Hour Concerts, 1949-49. (Canada) 4-Immortal Performances 1050. Transfers by Richard Caniell. Elaborate Edition features numerous lovely photos & booklet. (OP3171)

    “The radio audience…need only revel in [Ludwig’s] warm, vividly colored, passionate voicing of the young cavalier’s feelings. The Berlin-born Ludwig’s solid vocal and musical grounding were the natural result of her upbringing in a musical family….The cutting edge of her upper tones, the warmth of her middle and low voice, the overall evenness of scale allow her to challenge effectively not only Ochs, but Strauss’ orchestral mass….Della Casa’s interpretive touches, in the monologues as well as in the dialogue are far more convincing than was the case in her initial (1956) broadcast of the role. In the playful scenes with Quinquin, Della Casa’s utterance is often delightfully nuanced and charming in its vocal appeal and this time fine legato braces many a phrase….As expected, Della Casa, Ludwig and Söderström make something very special of the trio. Each owns a secure technique and has the vocal means to project in any range. Ludwig’s firm lower tones are a splendid anchor and Della Casa not only contributes a magical opening but rivets attention with a lengthy crescendo and strikingly colored top tone.

    [Söderström’s] versatility was early apparent – prior to her Met début she had performed all three ROSENKAVALIER heroines….[Her] role can point variously from the innocence of Conner, the shimmering purity of the young Steber, or the knowing suggestiveness of Güden. Söderström manages to bundle together into a speaking entity the attributes of all three predecessors….In Fernandi’s brief but critical turn at the levée, his brightly focused tones provide a laser tracing of the heady Italian aria; his line is so firmly etched….his only voicing of the role during eight Met seasons – [this] broadcast is the opera’s seasonal premiere which may explain the primo tenore casting….When [Cerwenka’s house début] Ochs lumbers into the Marschallin’s elegant boudoir, the smell of manure on his boots almost penetrates the airwaves – his boorish vocal manner reeks of it….He is very much a country nobleman, a vivid contrast to the more restrained Edelmann.”


    - Paul Jackson, SIGN-OFF FOR THE OLD MET, pp.303-306


    "My regard for the performance released here centers on the remarkable trio of singers it assembles: beginning with Lisa Della Casa as the Marschallin, singing with elegance and exquisite tone, yet capable of an enriching characterization which was not yet hers to give in her first Met broadcast in the role (1956 – Kempe). She has Christa Ludwig, the best of the Octavians after Risë Stevens….In the Strauss commemorative issue of OPERA QUARTERLY (Summer 1999), Robert Baxter assesses all the recorded ROSENKAVALIERs and states as to Ludwig’s Octavian, that she embodied an ideal: ‘Her ample, creamy voice - neither Jurinac nor Fassbänder can match Ludwig’s opulence - makes her a vocal paragon. No other Octavian sings with such unfailing beauty and ease’. Joined to these two in laudable casting was Elisabeth Söderström as Sophie, the soprano to whom who Stephen Hastings refers, in his remarkable book THE BJÖRLING SOUND, as ‘the finest Swedish singing actress of her generation’.”


  • - Richard Caniell, Program Notes


  • LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN, Live Performance, 26 Feb., 1944 (replete with Milton Cross’ commentary), w. Thomas Beecham, Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Raoul Jobin, Patrice Munsel (Olympia), Lily Djanel (Giulietta; Muse), Jarmila Novotná (Antonia), Ezio Pinza (Coppélius; Miracle), Martial Singher (Dapertutto), Mack Harrell (Lindorf), Alessio de Paolis (Spalanzani, Pitichinaccio, and Frantz), Nicola Moscona (Crespel) & Lucille Browning (Nicklausse); LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN - Vous me quittez (in Russian), w. Zara Dolukhanova & Ivan Kozlovsky, recorded 1952. (Canada) 2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1060, accompanied by 34pp Booklet with notes by Dewey Faulkner. Transfers by Richard Caniell. (OP3172)

    “This is a treasure. Those familiar with Beecham’s unique way with this score from the famous film version will find this infinitely more gratifying. The singing here is much superior [and] Immortal Performances has managed an edition vastly preferable to earlier releases of this performance on Myto and Melodram (I never heard the Beecham Society LPs, which served as the source of those CD versions). Pitch has been corrected (it was inconsistent,to say the least, on the other versions), and dynamic compression has been overcome to the extent possible. Producer Richard Caniell used ABC transcriptions and acetates from the Jobin collection in Canada.

    There are many aspects of this performance that bring pleasure, but at the center is Beecham’s conducting. He clearly loved this opera, and conducted it regularly since 1910. The opera is a structural mess, whether in this version published by Choudens or even in the myriad ‘critical editions’ that have been created since. What can make it work is a conductor with a sense of theatrical pacing, a deep belief in the value of the score, and the ability to get an orchestra and a cast to perform it with similar conviction. This is precisely what we have here. The sense of musical and theatrical ensemble is not just from the orchestra, and not just between singers and orchestra, but also among the singers themselves. Every singer is truly interacting with every other singer, communicating a rare degree of dramatic and comedic authenticity. LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN is a work that veers between absurdity, drama, romance, tragedy, and comedy. Beecham captures all of those moods, and manages to meld them into a unified whole.

    Jobin was a Canadian tenor who was a mainstay in the French repertoire at the Met between 1940 and 1950. He was also known for his Lohengrin and Walther, and in Europe sang other dramatic roles like Radamès. While his timbre lacks the uniqueness and beauty of his predecessor Georges Thill, it is still an extremely attractive voice, and he was a scrupulous musician, with impeccable diction, rhythm, and pitch. His Hoffmann is one of the finest on records. He and Beecham are perfectly in tune with each other, and the musical give-and- take in, for instance, ‘The Ballad of Kleinzach’ is enchanting. Jobin knows the French style, and his comfort with the idiom contributes to the success of his performance.

    LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN should, in theory, be given with one soprano and one bass-baritone in the roles of Hoffmann’s loves and his adversaries, since the characters are, in Offenbach’s mind, all manifestations of the same obsession of Hoffmann. Although there have been singers who did assume all the roles, it rarely works out well because the vocal writing and character of the music require different vocal and dramatic skills. The Met’s solution here is far more satisfying: an all-star cast with almost every singer perfectly suited to his or her role.

    In his superb program notes, Dewey Falkner rightly observes that Ezio Pinza’s French is less than idiomatic and he has some difficulty with the passagework written for Coppélius. But it hardly matters because, as Falkner puts it, ‘he has voce voce voce’. The extraordinarily deep and rich timbre that Pinza brings to both Coppélius and Dr. Miracle provides us with something unforgettable. I have not heard anything like it since in either role.

    Another standout is Jarmila Novotná as Antonia. The voice itself is ravishingly beautiful, her way of shaping phrases is particularly affecting, and she is extremely convincing in Antonia’s shifting moods between fear, joy, sorrow, and determination. The Antonia act is extraordinarily effective because of Novotná, Jobin, Pinza, and Nicola Moscona’s richly sung Crespel.

    Martial Singher made his Met début in 1943 as Dapertutto in this production, already an accomplished singer from Paris. He was one of the great French baritones of his era, not so much for the quality of his voice as for his intelligence and musicianship. He himself was quoted as saying ‘my voice was of average quality, but it was versatile and capable of projecting character, I think’; indeed it was, and his is a superb version of ‘Scintille diamant’.

    The successes of the cast continue with Patrice Munsel, heard here in her first season with the Met, triumphantly getting through Olympia’s coloratura challenges. Falkner notes that she isn’t as ‘mechanically precise’ as some singers impersonating this doll, but it is glorious singing and it makes more convincing Hoffmann’s infatuation with her. Extravagant casting brings us Margaret Harshaw as the voice of Antonia’s Mother and the wonderful Alessio de Paolis as Spalanzani, Pitichinaccio, and Frantz. Mack Harrell is also excellent as Lindorf. Only Lucielle Browning lets us down a bit in the role of Niklausse. This is a case where the whole is even greater than the sum of its parts, as good as those parts are. I have rarely been so utterly swept along by Offenbach’s inspired but unevenly constructed work. Beecham and his cast make you forget the flaws and simply propels you into Hoffmann’s bizarre world.

    As if all of that weren’t enough, Immortal Performances adds a six-minute bonus - a truly gorgeous recording of the Hoffmann-Giulietta duet with two of Russia’s superstars from the middle of the twentieth century. Zara Dolukhanova and Ivan Kozlovsky are thrilling. I was familiar with Kozlovsky’s recording of the Kleinzach Ballad, but had not heard this before. Apparently those two are all we have of his Hoffmann, and that is a real loss.

    Immortal Performances’ usual superb production values accompany these two discs. A 34-page booklet with, as noted, thoughtful and perceptive essays by Dewey Faulkner, a detailed synopsis, and evocative photos. Milton Cross’ commentary from the broadcast is included, but tracked separately should you wish to skip it. For anyone who loves this opera, this recording is essential.”


    - Henry Fogel, FANFARE


    “The [above] broadcast of HOFFMANN on 26 February, 1944 is probably the most satisfying of all Beecham’s Metropolitan ventures….and for once the Metropolitan is able to offer the all but impossible: an entire act with authentic French stylists….Jobin never falters in the high-flying climaxes of the second act, and indeed, at the close of the Epilogue, he summons an almost Wagnerian breadth of sound and phrase to cap a superb performance….Jarmila Novotná’s…voice fairly flowers on this afternoon….it may be her finest broadcast purely in vocal terms….Contributing to the high quality of the performance is newcomer Martial Singher, who had made his house début as Dapertutto a few months earlier. His stylistic surety and sculpted diction create a telling mood in the recitatives preceding ‘Scintille diamant’….Singher is a mesmeric artist….Above all, Beecham’s distinction lay in his inimitable panache and his sensitivity to sensuous sound….”


  • - Paul Jackson, SATURDAY AFTERNOONS AT THE OLD MET, pp.294-297


  • TOSCA (in French), Broadcast Performance, w. Le Conte Cond. RTF Radio-Lyrique Ensemble; Christiane Castelli, Albert Lance, Jean Laffont, Lucien Lovano, Joseph Peyron, etc.; JEAN LAFFONT: Arias from Don Giovanni, Barbiere, Don Quichotte, Faust, Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Thaïs, Le Roi de Lahore & Le Chemineau. (France) 2-Malibran 791. (OP3173)

    “On the advice of Lotte Schöne , Christiane Castelli joined the National Conservatory of Paris in 1942 where she studied with Claire Croiza and Roger Bourdin. In 1944 she won 1st prize.

    She débuted at the Opéra-Comique 16 March, 1946 in LA TRAVIATA, then at the Palais Garnier 18 June, 1952 in the role of Hebe in Rameau’s LES INDES GALANTES. She then sang Desdemona in OTELLO, Rozenn in LE ROI D'YS, Marie-Louise in L'AIGLON (1952), 1st Lady in THE MAGIC FLUTE (1954), Marguerite in FAUST (1957), Violetta in LA TRAVIATA (1959 ), Tosca [which she sang over 300 times] (1960), Amelia in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA , Elisabeth in DON CARLOS, etc. Her farewell performance was in recital at the Paris Opéra in 1977.

    Jean-Philippe Lafont is a French baritone who made his operatic début as Papageno in THE MAGIC FLUTE at the Salle Favart, Paris in 1974. He went on to appear regularly in Toulouse, where he first sang the title role in Verdi's FALSTAFF in 1987. Lafont has performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris, Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala and the Royal Opera House, London. Among the roles with which he is particularly associated are the four villains in THE TALES OF HOFFMANN, the Comte des Grieux in MANON, Golaud in PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE, Barak in DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN and the title roles in GIANNI SCHICCHI, RIGOLETTO, BORIS GODUNOV and MACBETH.”


    - Ned Ludd


    “The Australian tenor Albert Lance was lucky enough to be the right man at the right place at the right time. He happened to be in Paris in the mid 1950s furthering his vocal training when the Paris Opéra needed a new principal tenor following the retirement of the legendary Georges Thill, who had been France’s ‘national’ tenor for many years. Lance’s voice was so suited to the French repertoire that he became the principal tenor at both the Opéra-Comique and the Palais Garnier and replaced Thill as the leading French tenor for the next two decades….”


  • - Tony Locantro, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2015


    - - - - - - - - A Met Opera Double Bill - - - - - - - -



  • IL TABARRO, Live Performance, 5 Jan., 1946, w.Busch Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Licia Albanese, Lawrence Tibbett, Frederick Jagel, Margaret Harshaw, Virgilio Lazzari, Thomas Hayward, Alessio de Paolis, etc.;

  • DON PASQUALE, Live Performance, 5 Jan., 1946 (replete with Milton Cross’ commentaries) w.Sodero Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Bidú Sayão, Salvatore Baccaloni, Nino Martini, John Brownlee & Alessio de Paolis; DON PASQUALE - Excerpts (in German) w.Steiner Cond. Berlin Reichsrundfunk Orch.; Erna Berger & Karl Schmitt-Walter; DON PASQUALE - Excerpts w. Schipa, dal Monte, Fregosi & Azzolini. (Canada) 3-Immortal Performances IPCD 1057, w.52pp Elaborate Booklet, w.Notes by Henry Fogel & Richard Caniell; Transfers by Richard Caniell. DON PASQUALE commemorates the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Fritz Busch. (OP3169)

    "During her long Met career (1940-1966) Licia Albanese was particularly identified with the music of Puccini, and there are recorded examples of her in many Puccini roles, either studio or live recordings. There is, however, a single performance of her Giorgetta in IL TABARRO preserved, and it is this one. How fortunate we are to have it, particularly paired with Lawrence Tibbett’s Michele. The fervor and the innate feel for the Puccini idiom that both artists convey in their scenes together is not duplicated in any other performance of which I am aware.

    This [DON PASQUALE] is a treasurable opportunity to experience a Donizetti opera conducted by the great Fritz Busch, and from the opening of the Overture we understand that this will be a unique experience. The degree of attention to dynamic shading and to orchestral balance and texture is remarkable, and Richard Caniell has made special efforts in his restoration to preserve that dynamic shading and the performance’s dynamic range. There is spring in the rhythms, there is flexibility in the shaping of melodic lines, a sparkle in the string playing, an effective and intelligent application of rubato, and an attention to phrasing that we almost never hear in this music."


  • - Henry Fogel, Program Notes


  • DON GIOVANNI, Live Performance, 9 Dec., 1944, w. Szell Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Ezio Pinza, Salvatore Baccaloni, Charles Kullman, Florence Kirk, Eleanor Steber, Bidu Sayão, Mack Harrell, etc.;

  • DON GIOVANNI, Live Performance, 6 Dec., 1947, w. Rudolf Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Ezio Pinza, Salvatore Baccaloni, Charles Kullman, Regina Resnik, Polyna Stoska, Nadine Conner, Lorenzo Alvary, etc. (Canada) 4-Immortal Performances IPCD 1059. Restoration and Transfers by Richard Caniell. (OP3167)

    “As usual, Immortal Performances provides thorough and informative notes, and wonderful photos, including photos and brief biographies of every performer. This is a release of considerable value and importance. We don’t have a lot of Szell in the opera house, particularly in his earlier years. The opportunity to compare Szell and Rudolf, and dramatically see (and hear) the difference a conductor can make, is instructive, especially since Immortal Performances is selling the four discs for the price of three. Above all, the Szell/Pinza DON GIOVANNI is a treasure, sonically restored better than ever.”


  • - Henry Fogel, FANFARE, 2016


  • MIGNON, Live Performance, 15 May, 1937, w.Pelletier Cond. Metropolitan Opera Ensemble; Jennie Tourel (début), Armand Tokatyan, Léon Rothier, Josephine Antoine, Norman Cordon, etc., featuring Robert Woldrop’s announcements & curtain calls; MIGNON – Excerpts: Georgi Vinogradov, recorded 1940 & 1947; MIGNON, Live Performance, 17 Dec., 1938, w.Pelletier Cond. Metropolitan Opera Ensemble; Risë Stevens, Richard Crooks, Ezio Pinza, Alessio de Paolis, etc., featuring Milton Cross’ announcements & curtain calls; ORFEO – Excerpts: Risë Stevens, w. Erich Kleiber Cond. Teatro Colón Orch., 1939. (Canada) 4-Immortal Performances 4-IPCD 1061. Restoration and Transfers by Richard Caniell. The 1938 performance is a WORLD PREMIERE RELEASE. (OP3166 )

  • LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, Live Performance, 1964, Buenos Aires, w.István Kertész Cond. Teatro Colón Ensemble; Victoria de los Angeles, Renate Holm, Christa Ludwig, Walter Berry, Renato Cesari, etc.; VICTORIA de los ANGELES: Arias from Nozze, Manon, Ernani, La Boheme, Mefistofele & La Vida Breve - live performances, 1952-58. 3-VAI 1282. (OP3170)

  • UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, w.Abbado Cond.Vienna Staatsoper Ensemble; Piero Cappuccilli, Luciano Pavarotti, Gabriele Lechner, Ludmilla Schemstchuk, Magda Nadar, etc. (Austria) 2-Orfeo C 907 162 I, Live Performance, 26 Oct., 1986. [In stunning aural clarity - a thrilling performance brilliantly conducted by Abbado!] (OP3168)

  • JUSSI BJÖRLING, w.Bertil Bokstedt (Pf.): Songs by Schubert, Brahms, Liszt, Strauss,Wolf, Sibelius, Alfvén, Grieg & Tosti: Björling announces Peterson-Berger song as a substitute; Arias from Andrea Chénier, Carmen & Die Zauberflöte - Live Performance from Falkoner Centret, Copenhagen, 15 October 1959; w.Howard Barlow Cond. Voice of Firestone Orch.: If I Could Tell You (Idabelle Firsetone), Sylvia (Speaks), L’alba separa (Tosti), PRINCESS PAT - Neapolitan Love Song (Victor Herbert), TURANDOT – Nessun dorma – Broadcast Performance, 10 March, 1952. Voice of Firestone, NBC Studios Rockefeller Center, New York. (U.K.) JSP Records JSP682, accompanied by elaborate 24pp booklet containing Stephen Hastings' analysis of this recital. Transfers by Seth B. Winner. (V2472)

    “Björling’s breath control is as superb as earlier and his legato singing is exemplary. The beauty of his silvery voice is unmistakable - it is the Jussi we know from so many outstanding recordings. The sound quality of the recording is first class and considering the age is clear and dynamic. Seth B. Winner had excellent basic material at his disposal but he has adjusted to take account of some deviations in volume and has also removed disturbing noises like coughs and squeaks. The piano is balanced a mite closer than the voice but this is no drawback. It makes us experience Bertil Bokstedt’s elegant phrasing and exquisite timing. He was a good listener as well as a promoter – the perfect accompanist.

    The 24-page-booklet is a further bonus with among other things a detailed historical account by Harald Henrysson of Jussi Björling’s appearances in Denmark. They spanned some 28 years, all of his adult career. It’s lavishly illustrated. The vocal expert Stephen Hastings, author of the book THE BJÖRLING SOUND, contributes a profound analysis of the Copenhagen concert, full of insight as usual. There are also contributions by John H. Haley, Dan Shea and Seth B. Winner. This is a quality issue, in other words and should be in every Jussi Björling collection.”


  • - Göran Forsling, Jussi Blörling Society – USA


  • SESTO BRUSCANTINI, w.Fabio Maestri (Pf.): Songs by Tosti; Arias from Le Astuzie Femminili, Don Giovanni, Nozze, Così Fan Tutte, Don Pasquale, L'Elisir & Falstaff - Live Performance, 8 March, 1981, Ancona; Arias from Ballo & Tosca - Live Performances, 1973-78. (Italy) Bongiovanni 1236. (V2473)

    “During a career that lasted 45 years, the Italian bass-baritone Sesto Bruscantini acquired an enormous repertory that was notable for the range, musical and dramatic, of the roles that he sang, as well as for their number.

    At first a bass, specialising in the comic roles of Mozart, Rossini and Donizetti, he moved up the scale to baritone and even, for some years in the middle of his career, took on the high Verdi baritone roles. His voice was not huge, but so well projected that no strain showed, however florid or heavy the vocal line. But it was his skill in characterisation that enabled Bruscantini to sing so many roles in such different styles. He had a tremendous success at Glyndebourne in the 1950s, and at the Chicago Lyric during the 1960s, and sang at La Scala, Milan, the Rome Opera and many other Italian cities throughout his career.

    He continued to sing throughout the 1980s, appearing at Salzburg three years running as Don Alfonso in COSÌ FAN TUTTE. At Houston he took on Dr Bartolo in IL BARBIERE. He returned to Glyndebourne in 1985 as Don Magnifico. In 1986 he sang Iago (never one of his best roles) at Dallas in an emergency and obtained a new Rossini role at Bordeaux, Asdrubale in LA PIETRA DEL PARAGONE. In 1988 he sang Don Alfonso in Los Angeles, the four villains in Madrid. In 1989 he sang Michonnet in Rome. In 1990, also in Rome, he sang a new role, the Magistrate in WERTHER, and sang a final Don Alfonso in Macerata. He was 70.”


  • - Elizabeth Forbes, THE INDEPENDENT, 11 May, 2003




    . . . out-of-print books [many biographies,

    Record Catalogue-Discographies, Toscanini

    and the Metropolitan Opera] have been added at the

    beginning of each completely revised book section . . .

    more coming in the next months . . .

    more out-of-print CDs are regularly added throughout

    our listings, in appropriate categories.




    . . . and our 50% Discount

    Sale continues . . .



    --------------------- ANNOUNCEMENT -----------------------



    You can view our current Auction #147 online, with revised closing date of Saturday, 21 May!

    At a total of 118 pages, this is the largest auction we’ve ever produced, filled with many rarities, plus MINT copies of ‘Society’ recordings (all pressed from original masters), now at closeout prices. It will come as no surprise that Norbeck, Peters & Ford have been concentrating our efforts in locating and promoting thousands of historical-interest CDs during the past quarter century, often at the expense of the somewhat rarified collector of the original 78rpm issues. Now, the long wait is over as we have spent much of the past year organizing, researching and listing many 78s in our vast inventory, many of them with appropriate critical and biographical quotes. This auction features a large assortment of instrumental, vocal and historically important records, the vast majority being in truly spectacular condition.

    As our little urchin stares into the recording horn, you can now view our current AUCTION whose revised closing date is Saturday, 21 May!


    For the recently-offered Archipel, Myto, Gebhardt, Walhall, Melodiya, Vista Vera & Living Stage titles on sale, simply visit our sale section of our website). This is the ideal opportunity at bargain prices to fill in gaps in one’s collection.

    . . . For the Melodiya, Vista Vera, Archipel, Myto,

    Walhall, Gebhardt &

    Living Stage titles on sale,

    simply visit our sale section of our website . . .



    Once again . . .

    Welcome to our new bookshop & list of Original Cast LPs, www.norpete.com where you will see a vast array of excellent, used out-of-print books. You're sure to find many books of interest which may have long eluded you, so now is your opportunity to fill in missing gaps. Our online bookshop includes composer and performer autobiographies and biographies. Soon we will include musical criticism, theory and history, plus histories of symphony orchestras, opera houses and festivals. In addition, we shall offer quite an array of vocal scores, many of which are most rare and unusual.

    Take a look at our exciting array of Broadway & Off-Broadway Original Cast and London Original Cast LPs, all in superb condition.

    We continue to offer FREE Shipping on all U.S. orders over $49.00. If you would like to join our emailing list, please sign up at the top right.

    We carry splendid CD offerings from Yves St Laurent, VRCS, The Record Collector, Marston, Palaeophonics, Immortal Performances (Canada), Malibran, Aquarius, Truesound Transfers, Walhall, Bongiovanni, Clama and many other labels.

    Now that our Auction #145 is completed, the Auction Catalogue remains on our current website. Most of the elusive and rare items of course are gone, but some titles remain available.

    As always, please contact us with any special requests.

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    Thank you again for your loyal support, and happy browsing our ever changing website and exciting offerings.

    Aida / Carmen  (Vickers, Zeani, Bumbry, Merrill)  (4-IPCD 1056)
    OP3177. JON VICKERS MEMORIAL . . . includes:

    AÏDA, Live Performance, 11 Oct., 1965, w. Zubin Mehta Cond. Opéra de Montréal Ensemble; Virginia Zeani, Jon Vickers, Lili Chookasian, Victor Braun, Thomas Paul, etc. [recorded by this production's stage manager, Irving Guttman, the sound is clear but rather shallow due to the lack of upstage mikes];

    CARMEN, Live Performance, 5 July, 1968, w.Georges Prêtre Cond. Teatro Colón Ensemble; Grace Bumbry, Jon Vickers, Robert Merrill, Joan Carlyle, etc.; [well recorded by the Teatro Colón for broadcast];

    JON VICKERS & GIULIETTA SIMIONATO: AÏDA - Judgment Scene (Act IV), Bell Telephone Hour, 5 May, 1964. (Canada) 4-Immortal Performances IPCD 1056, accompanied by elaborate 46pp. booklet. Transfers by Richard Caniell. Notes by Stanley Henig & Richard Caniell. This Jon Vickers Memorial Set is specially priced at 4 CDs for the price of 3. - 01996243463
    $49.90
    Karel Ancerl   -   Ma Vlast     (St Laurent Studio YSL T-340)
    C1436. KAREL ANCERL Cond. Boston S.O.: MA VLAST (Smetana), Live Performance, 8 Aug., 1969, Tanglewood - [The first complete performance by the Boston Symphony Orchestra (under a stormy sky, thunder included)!] (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-340. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
    $17.90
    Pierre Boulez, Vol. II  -  Cleveland S.O.    (YSL T-350)
    C1437. PIERRE BOULEZ Cond. Cleveland S.O.: Symphony #3 in D (Schubert), Live Performance, 18 March, 1971, Severance Hall; Manfred - Overture; Symphony #3 in E-flat (both Schumann), Live Performance, 17 July, 1971, Blossom Music Festival. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-350. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
    $17.90
    Fra Diavolo   (Lemeshev, Guselnikova, Volovov)   (2-AQVR 396)
    OP3175. FRA DIAVOLO (in Russian), Live Performance, 29 March, 1955, w.Khaikin Cond. Bolshoi Opera Ensemble; Sergei Lemeshev, Nina Guselnikova, Pavel Volovov, Elena Gribova, Andrei Sokolov, etc. (Russia) 2-Aquarius AQVR 396. [Most appealing to hear Lemeshev & Guselnikova in this delightful French opera. The sound quality is vibrant, always conveying the sense of occasion, obviously recorded from the prompter's box.] - 4607123631744
    $39.90
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