OP0014. DON PASQUALE, Live Performance, 21 Dec., 1940, w.Papi Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Bidú Sayão, Nino Martini, Salvatore Baccaloni, Francesco Valentino, etc., replete with Milton Cross' commentaries. (England) 2-Naxos 8.110022/23. Transfers by Richard Caniell. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 636943102220
"Sayao is near perfection in this assignment, full of high spirits but never overplaying. She is in her best silvery voice and delivers the coloratura, which the composer sprinkled throughout Norina's music, with unfailing accuracy and lovely, focused tone. She knows the exact shape of every phrase...and how she fills the embellishments with liquid tone....it is a portrayal to be treasured."
- Paul Jackson, SATURDAY AFTERNOONS AT THE OLD MET, p.228
“Sayão's technical mastery appeared not to include a well-knit trill, but superb phrasing, splendid diction, acting ability and a svelte figure made her a compelling artist both on stage and on the recital platform....What further eulogies can be written about this charming, mid-century songbird? A Jean de Reszke pupil and the worthy successor to the delicious Lucrezia Bori at the Met, she enjoyed a long career in the lighter French repertoire and is remembered with deep affection by all who had the good fortune to hear her in her prime.”
- Vivian A. Liff, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, May / June, 2011
“One of the most important elements that made Bidú Sayão such a unique artist among other singers and frankly among most instrumentalists was that she was a musician first….In 1923, Teodorini introduced Bidú to her former professor, Jean de Reszke, who concentrated on teaching her the French opera repertoire. After de Reszke’s death in 1925 Sayão continued her studies with Cotogni’s own disciple, Luigi Ricci (1893-1981), who worked with great opera composers such as Giordano, Leoncavallo, Mascagni, and Respighi, as well as coaching celebrated singers such as Ezio Pinza, Tito Gobbi, Benjamino Gigli and Fyodor Chaliapin….What makes her so unique even among the greats is that she found a way to combine, in perfect harmony, two naturally contradicting qualities rarely found in one artist: technical perfection and passion in abundance.”
- Mordecai Shehori, CLASSICAL RECORDINGS QUARTERLY, Winter, 2010
“Nino Martini began his career as an opera singer in Italy before moving to the United States to pursue an acting career in films. He appeared in several Hollywood movies during the 1930s and 1940s while simultaneously working as a leading tenor at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Martini possessed a warm lyric tenor voice that had a wide range and considerable amount of coloratura facility.
Martini studied singing under Giovanni Zenatello and Maria Gay. In 1925 he made his professional opera début in Milan as the Duke of Mantua in RIGOLETTO. Shortly thereafter he toured Europe as a concert artist appearing in many of the continent's major music centers. While in Paris he was discovered by the film producer Jesse Louis Lasky who engaged him for several Italian language speaking roles in short films. In 1929, under the influence of Lasky, Martini immigrated into the United States to pursue a film career. His first appearance was in the Paramount Pictures all-star revue film PARAMOUNT ON PARADE (1930). Further forays into film were postponed, however, as Martini decided to continue to pursue an opera career. He made his U.S. opera début in 1931 in Philadelphia. This was followed by several broadcasts of opera for radio. In 1933 Martini joined the roster at the Metropolitan Opera, making his début on 28 December, again as the Duke of Mantua. He appeared in several more productions at the Met over the next thirteen years, singing the roles of Alfredo in LA TRAVIATA, Edgardo in LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, Ernesto in DON PASQUALE, Rinuccio in GIANNI SCHICCHI, Rodolfo in LA BOHÈME, and Ruggero in LA RONDINE. His last performance at the Met was as Count Almaviva in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA on 20 April, 1946.
While performing at the Met, Martini occasionally returned to Hollywood to appear in films, mostly appearing in pictures directed by Lasky. His film credits include HERE'S TO ROMANCE (1935), MUSIC FOR MADAME (1937), and THE GAY DESPERADO (1936). The latter film featured Ida Lupino as his co-star, was directed by Rouben Mamoulian, produced by Mary Pickford, and released by United Artists. His last film appearance was in ONE NIGHT WITH YOU in 1948. In 1945 Martini portrayed Rodolfo to Grace Moore's Mimi for the inaugural performance of the San Antonio Grand Opera Festival. In the late 1940s and 1950s Martini continued to perform as a singer mostly on the radio. He eventually returned to Italy where he lived in Verona until his death in 1976.”
-Zillah Dorset Akron