C1379. HERBERT von KARAJAN Cond. La Scala Ensemble, w.Leontyne Price, Fiorenza Cossotto, Carlo Bergonzi & Nicola Zaccaria: Manzoni Requiem (Verdi). (Austria) Relief CR 8004, Live Performance, 25 Oct.,1964, Moscow. [A sublime performance; Bergonzi's phrasing must be heard to be believed . . . in glorious sound!] - 7619934800421
"In the autumn of 1964 the opera company of the Teatro alla Scala di Milano gave guest performances for the first time in Moscow. Having only a short look at the cast list of the engaged artists illustrates the extraordinary requirements according to which the singers were picked for those prestigious guest performances: Fiorenza Cossotto, Birgit Nilsson, Leontyne Price, Renata Scotto, Giulietta Simionato, Gabriella Tucci, Carlo Bergonzi, Piero Cappuccilli, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Rolando Panerai, Bruno Prevedi and Nicola Zaccaria. Under Herbert von Karajan the performance of 'Messa da Requiem' on 25 September, 1964 with choir, soloists and the orchestra of La Scala became the most lasting success of this first trip to Russia. The exemplary quality of the choir, the four soloists and the orchestra were proven true."
"Leontyne Price's voice was a spinto soprano of great beauty. She had a wonderful feeling for the sweep of the long phrases of Verdi....Her lower register had a quality often described as ‘dusky’ which many listeners found quite sensual. Leontyne Price will always be remembered as one of the greatest Verdi sopranos of the twentieth century.”
- Richard LeSueur, allmusic.com
“While best known for the fiery, scenery-chewing Verdi roles such as Azucena, Amneris, Lady Macbeth, and Eboli, Fiorenza Cossotto was also a prominent performer of bel canto parts such as Rosina in Rossini's BARBIERE, Leonora in LA FAVORITA, and Adalgisa in NORMA. Such large and powerful mezzo voices, particularly with a secure top, are rare compared to the lyric mezzo, and from the late 1960s through the early 1980s, she was the Verdi mezzo, the successor to Simionato and the predecessor to Zajick.”
- Anne Feeney, allmusic.com
“Considered the foremost Verdi tenor of his age, Mr. Bergonzi sang more than 300 times with the Metropolitan Opera of New York from the 1950s to the ’80s, appearing opposite a roster of celebrated divas that included Maria Callas, Zinka Milanov, Renata Tebaldi, Risë Stevens, Victoria de los Angeles and Leontyne Price.
A lyric tenor of some vocal heft, Mr. Bergonzi lacked the sonic weight and brilliance of tenors in the Wagnerian mold. But what he did possess was an instrument of velvety beauty and nearly unrivaled subtlety.
‘More than the sound of the voice, it is Mr. Bergonzi’s way of using it that is so special’, Peter G. Davis, reviewing a 1978 Carnegie Hall recital by Mr. Bergonzi, wrote in The New York Times. ‘He is a natural singer in that everything he does seems right and inevitable — the artful phrasing, the coloristic variety, the perfectly positioned accents, the theatrical sense of well-proportioned climaxes, the honest emotional fervor. Best of all, Mr. Bergonzi obviously uses these effects artistically because he feels them rather than intellectualizes them — a rare instinctual gift, possibly the most precious one any musician can possess’. In the view of his many fans, this vocal elegance amply compensated for the fact that Mr. Bergonzi was no actor and, by his own ready admission, no matinee idol. ‘I know I don’t look like Rudolph Valentino’, he told The Times in 1981. ‘I know what a proper physique should be for the parts I sing, but I have tried to learn to act through the voice. The proper, pure expression of the line is the most important thing’.
- Margalit Fox, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 26 July, 2014
“The Greek bass Nicola Zaccaria, whose career took him all over Europe, sang for two decades at La Scala, Milan. During that period he was frequently in performances whose prima donna was Maria Callas and he also appeared with her at Covent Garden and in Dallas, where he made almost yearly visits. He also made many recordings with Callas. His repertory was mainly Italian and French, for which his resonant, smoothly produced and warm-toned voice was best suited. As his second wife he married the American mezzo Marilyn Horne, and sang in a number of operas in which she was the star.
He made his début in Athens in 1949 as Raimondo in Donizetti's LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR. His international career began as Nicola Zaccaria in 1953 when he made his Scala début as Sparafucile in Verdi's RIGOLETTO. He first sang with Callas in 1954 as the Oracle in Gluck's ALCESTE and during the next couple of years appeared with her as the Soothsayer in Spontini's LA VESTALE, Rodolfo in Bellini's LA SONNAMBULA (also given at the Edinburgh Festival), Raimondo in LUCIA and Oroveso in Bellini's NORMA. He made his Covent Garden début in 1957 as Oroveso (with Callas as Norma) and his fine voice was greatly admired.
In 1959 he made his US début at Dallas as Creon in Cherubini's MEDEA, with Callas in the title role and Jon Vickers as Jason. This scored a tremendous success and the production, with Callas, Vickers and Zaccaria, was staged later in 1959 at Covent Garden, where it was received with equal praise.”
- Elizabeth Forbes, THE INDEPENDENT, 30 Aug.,2007
“Herbert von Karajan had first conducted Verdi's REQUIEM as a young assistant Kapellmeister in Ulm in 1933. It became one of his signature works, and Karajan conducted the work frequently, recorded it several times and it was the last work he conducted with the Berlin Philharmonic shortly before his death in 1989. Privately, Karajan was a dignified man, with elegant bearing. But when he came onstage to demonstrate movements, his own became very strange. He strutted about like a cock in a henhouse, his rear end stuck out and his head in the air. I grant, this rustic description does not fit into the Karajan myth, but it was exactly so."
- Birgit Nilsson, LA NILSSON, p.110