C1522. WILLIAM STEINBERG Cond. Boston Symphony Orchestra, w.Eileen Farrell, James King, Nell Rankin, Robert Hale, etc.: TRISTAN UND ISOLDE - Act II (Wagner). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-544, Live Performance, 21 April, 1972, Symphony Hall, Boston. [This glorious live performance beautifully displays the splendor of the Symphony Hall acoustic.] Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“William Steinberg (born Wilhelm Hans Steinberg) was a conductor and an exceptional orchestra builder and interpreter of the Romantic to early-twentieth century repertory. He studied at Cologne Conservatory with Franz Bölsche in music theory, Lazzaro Uzielli in piano, and Hermann Abendroth in conducting. He won the Wüllner prize in conducting in his graduation year of 1920.
He obtained a position conducting at Cologne Opera, where he was assistant to Otto Klemperer. When Klemperer left in 1924, Steinberg received the appointment as Principal Conductor. In 1925 he accepted the post of conductor of the German Theater in Prague. In 1929 he became musical director of the Frankfurt Opera. His tenure there was marked by an interest in modern opera, and his productions included Berg's WOZZECK, Schoenberg's VON HEUTE AUF MORGEN, Antheil's TRANSATLANTIC, and Weill's AUFSTIEG UND FALL DER STADT MAHAGONNY.
The advent of Nazi rule in 1933 effectively ended his German career. He was restricted to conducting concerts for the Jewish Culture League in Frankfurt and Berlin. This was an insidious creation of the Nazis that both furthered its institutionalized anti-Semitism by creating a segregated organization for a segregated orchestra, while preserving the illusion that the Nazis goals went no further than ethnic separation. Steinberg left Germany in 1936 for Palestine, where he conducted the new orchestra there that eventually became the Israel Philharmonic. The Palestine Philharmonic's first concert was conducted by Arturo Toscanini. After working with Steinberg, Toscanini invited him to go to the United States as associate conductor of his NBC Symphony Orchestra. Steinberg took up that position in 1938.
Toscanini and Klemperer were Steinberg's two mentors. He adopted their clear, faithful approach to the classic scores and, like Klemperer, lost much of his early interest in modern music. Steinberg guest conducted regularly during his tenure with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. In 1945 he became Music Director of the Buffalo (New York) Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1952 he obtained the major appointment of his career, as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He restored that orchestra to an artistic high point. Concurrently, he was musical director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (1958 - 1960).
In 1960 he scored a great success guest conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra and was the preferred choice of its board for their next music director, as Charles Münch was stepping down from the position. However, RCA, the orchestra's record company, successfully pressured them to appoint Erich Leinsdorf, already on their roster of conductors. After Leinsdorf's tenure, one of mixed success, ended, they did appoint Steinberg to the post effective 1969. This was also only a partial success, because then health problems interfered with his abilities and caused frequent substitutions. He left the position in 1972 and restricted his activities.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
“With Farrell…we are on the way back to look at American singing in the forties and fifties….In certain records she even achieves a Callas-like intensity….The touch of greatness in Farrell is sufficient to make one wonder why the evident goodness was not more extensively recorded and still more widely acclaimed.”
- J. B. Steane, THE GRAND TRADITION, p.421
“James King, an American heldentenor whose bright, ringing voice and fluent high notes captivated critics and audiences in leading European opera houses in the 1960's, started out as a baritone before training as a tenor with Martial Singher in New York, and with Max Lorenz. He won acclaim for roles by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, composers in whom he specialized.
King was noted by the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, where he had his first resident appointment in 1962 as a nearly unknown singer from the United States, and at the Metropolitan Opera, where he took on some of the most challenging tenor roles. At the Met, he made his début in 1966 as Florestan in Beethoven's FIDELIO, the first of 113 appearances there. He set records for the most performances in two particularly demanding roles on the Met roster, Bacchus in Strauss' ARIADNE AUF NAXOS and the Emperor in DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN, a role he sang in the opera's Met premiere. Met audiences also heard him in works by Berg, Bizet, Britten, Puccini and Wagner. His final performance was in 2000 at Indiana University in a production of Wagner's WALKÜRE, in which he took the role of Siegmund.
Keeping a baritone quality in his lower notes, he acquired a distinctive, recognizable timbre that assured him a long career. His voice was described as strong and dependable, with the stamina to sustain him in longer dramatic roles, and his six feet of height added impact to his performances. Howard Klein of THE NEW YORK TIMES, welcoming him as the Met's Florestan in 1966, hailed him as ‘among the few tenors around today who can fill the role and still have plenty of voice to spare’.
James King won an American Opera Audition held in Cincinnati in 1961 and went in search of a career in Europe, as did many budding American singers at the time. His professional début was as Cavaradossi in Puccini's TOSCA at the Teatro della Pergola in Florence. He repeated the role at the Teatro Nuovo in Milan, gaining his first resident appointment in Berlin with a début as the Italian tenor in DER ROSENKAVALIER. Over the years he sang also at London's Royal Opera House, in Salzburg and at the Bayreuth Festival; and in Cincinnati, San Francisco and Philadelphia in the United States.”
- Wolfgang Saxon, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 24 Nov., 2005
“Nell Rankin, an American mezzo-soprano who sang at the Metropolitan Opera for 25 years and was highly regarded for her warm-toned portrayals of Amneris in Verdi's AÏDA and in the title role in Bizet's CARMEN, sang many of the major dramatic mezzo-soprano roles. Among them were Amneris, with which she made her début on Nov. 22, 1951, and several other Verdi roles - Eboli in DON CARLO, Azucena in IL TROVATORE and Ulrica in UN BALLO EN MASCHERA, as well as Carmen, Ortrud in Wagner's LOHENGRIN, Santuzza in Mascagni's CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA and Herodias in Strauss' SALOME. She ended her Met career in 1976, singing Laura in Ponchielli's LA GIOCONDA.
Nell Rankin was born in Birmingham, AL, on Jan. 3, 1924, and she studied with Jeanne Lorraine at the Birmingham Conservatory. She was a determined performer, and when the soprano Helen Traubel visited Birmingham to sing a recital in 1943 Ms. Rankin went backstage and persuaded Ms. Traubel's accompanist, Coenraad Bos, to hear her sing. On Bos' advice, she moved to New York to continue her studies with Karin Branzell. She made her début at Town Hall, in a joint recital with her sister, Ruth Rankin, a soprano, in March 1947. Her operatic début in New York was in a production of AÏDA at the Salmaggi Opera Company, in Brooklyn, in which she sang Amneris and her sister sang the title role.
In 1948, Ms. Rankin joined the Zürich Opera Company, where she made her début as Ortrud in LOHENGRIN in 1949, and went on to sing 126 performances in her first year. Her breakthrough, though, came in 1950, when she became the first American singer to win the first prize at the International Music Competition in Geneva.
That victory led to her débuts at La Scala and at the Vienna State Opera, both as Amneris, in 1951, and to her Met début in the same role later that year. Débuts at Covent Garden and the San Francisco Opera followed in 1953. On both occasions, she sang the title role in CARMEN.
In addition to her performances at the Met, Ms. Rankin continued to sing at major houses around the world, including La Scala, where she sang Cassandra, in Berlioz's LES TROYENS, in 1960, and the Teatro San Carlo, in Naples, where she sang Adalgisa in Bellini's NORMA, in 1963. She also sang with companies in Chicago, Fort Worth, Buenos Aires, Havana, Mexico City and Athens.
Ms. Rankin was the star of a CBS television production of CARMEN in 1954, and she made several recordings, including a 1961 account of Puccini's MADAMA BUTTERFLY in which she sang Suzuki and Renata Tebaldi sang the title role.
After she retired from the Met, Ms. Rankin devoted herself to teaching, first at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, and then privately in New York until she retired in 1991.”
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 19 Jan, 2005