C1535. CHARLES MUNCH Cond. Boston S.O., w.Eleanor Steber, Martial Singher, John McCollum & David Laurent: LA DAMNATION DE FAUST (Berlioz). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-458, , Live Performance, 14 Aug., 1960, Tanglewood Music Festival. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
"Steber definitely possessed the most glorious instrument of all, with its classically organized technique, impeccable management of breath support, easy agility and, above all, that phosphorescent top register. She was a singer who possessed a rare combination of vocal radiance, technical mastery and personal charisma, and during her best years, the distinctive purity, spinning tone and easy sweetness of her soprano [which] made her the Mozart-Strauss soprano of one's dreams."
- Peter G. Davis, OPERA NEWS, Nov., 2003
"Martial Singher, a French baritone, made his Metropolitan Opera dï¿½but in 1943. He made his debut at the Paris Opéra in 1930 and soon became a principal baritone with the company. After 11 seasons with the Paris Opéra he enjoyed many guest appearances in Europe and South America. In more than 100 opera roles and in recitals with leading orchestras, he eschewed showmanship and histrionics and stressed smoothness, subtlety and clarity. He was particularly celebrated for the lean, elegant phrasing of his native French repertory.
Of his Met debut as Dapertutto in LeS CONTES D'HOFFMANN, Virgil Thomson in THE NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE reported Mr. Singher 'gave a stage performance of incomparable elegance and did a piece of singing that for perfection of vocal style had not been equaled since Kirsten Flagstad went away'.
Several weeks later at the Met Singher sang his first Pelléas. Mr. Thomson found him 'the glory of the evening, vocally impeccable and dramatically superb'. Olin Downes of THE NEW YORK TIMES hailed the baritone as 'a fine and experienced artist, an authoritative actor, one firmly grounded in the traditions of his language and stage action and a potent element of the occasion'.
The baritone remained with the Met until 1959, when a severe heart disorder forced him to shift to teaching. He taught at the Mannes College of Music in Manhattan, the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and, as director of the voice and opera department, the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara (1962 to 1981), where he also produced operas. He was also an artist in residence at University of California at Santa Barbara."
- Peter B. Flint, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 12 March, 1990
"John McCollum's stage debut came in 1953 at the New England Opera Theatre as Fenton in Verdi's FALSTAFF. He also appeared in 1958 at the Festival of Spoleto in the premiere of the opera SCARF by Hoiby. His career took place to a large extent in North America. He sang there at the operas of Boston, Seattle and Santa Fé, in Washington, Cincinnati, Vancouver and Toronto, but mostly at the New York City Center Opera. He sang frequently with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under conductor Charles Munch, often at the Tanglewood Music Festival."
- Bach Cantatas Website
"It's difficult to articulate what makes Munch's conducting special - or indeed if there even is anything identifiably unique about it. A lesser talent would simply turn out generic, cookie-cutter performances; but Munch was anything but generic. He was one of the most musical of conductors; in so many of his performances, everything simply sounds 'right'. Certainly, his experience as an orchestral musician gave him a lot of practical insight into the mechanics of directing orchestra traffic. But a classic Munch interpretation never sounds calculated. Spontaneity was one of his hallmarks, sometimes to the surprise and discomfort of the musicians playing under him. From one night to the next, a Munch performance of the same piece might be very different, depending on his mood of the moment - yet it would always sound like Munch."
- Lawrence Hansen, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Nov. /Dec., 2012