OP0042. LA TRAVIATA, w.Previtali Cond. Rome Opera Ensemble; Anna Moffo, Richard Tucker, Robert Merrill, etc. 2-RCA Living Stereo 68885, recorded 1960. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 090266888528
"Soprano Anna Moffo was born in Pennsylvania in 1932 of Italian parents. After a period at the Curtis Institute, she went back to her ancestral homeland to study in Perugia and Rome. She made her debut in 1955 at Spoleto, as Norina in DON PASQUALE, but her big break came when she starred as Cio-Cio-San in MADAMA BUTTERFLY in a production broadcast on RAI. She became an overnight celebrity, with performances at Salzburg, Vienna, La Scala, and Naples, performing with Callas, di Stefano and Panerai, and making recordings with Karajan. She made her Met debut in 1959 as Violetta, one of her signature roles.
Moffo was one of the most attractive of the post-war sopranos, and resisted attempts to lure her to Hollywood. Her singing was unblemished with mannerisms, and she had superb gifts as a linguist."
-Zillah D. Akron
"...for some thirty years, until his sudden death in 1975, Tucker's vocal security, boundless energy, unceasing enthusiasm, and thorough professionalism ensured a level of popularity that necessitated comparisons to some of his greatest predecessors....Tucker sang thrillingly and delivered the goods, communicating his own joy in singing to all who would listen...."
- Marc Mandel, FANFARE, May/June, 1997
"It goes without saying that Robert Merrill's work was a vital part of what made the Met's Golden Age so golden; he was highly valued there for his vigorous, powerful, and technically unshakable singing, if not for his acting skills (which were never a priority). In 1993, he was awarded the United States Medal of Arts."
- Adrian Corleonis, allmusic.com
"Robert Merrill made his Metropolitan debut as Germont on 15 Dec., 1945, and celebrated his 500th performance there on 5 March, 1973. He remained on the Met roster until 1976. During his tenure with the Met, Mr. Merrill sang leading roles in much of the standard repertory, including the title role in RIGOLETTO, Germont in LA TRAVIATA, Figaro in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, Escamillo in CARMEN and Tonio in PAGLIACCI; he appeared in most of these many times. Regarded as one of the greatest Verdi baritones of his generation, he was known for the security and strength of his sound, as well as for the precision and clarity with which he could hit pitches across his two-octave range.
Although he occasionally appeared in Europe and South America, he preferred to base his career at the Metropolitan Opera, where he sang all the major baritone roles of the Italian and French repertories, Peter G. Davis wrote of Mr. Merrill in THE NEW GROVE DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN MUSIC. ' In terms of vocal endowment, technical security and longevity, he was unequaled among baritones of his generation at the Metropolitan'. 'After Leonard Warren's tragic death onstage at the Metropolitan in 1960, Merrill became more or less indisputably America's principal baritone and perhaps the best lyricist since Giuseppe de Luca', the critic J. B. Steane wrote in his book THE GRAND TRADITION. The easy and even production of a beautifully well-rounded tone is not common, especially when the voice is also a powerful one; yet this is, after all, the basis of operatic singing, and Merrill's records will always commend themselves in these terms. Mr. Merrill made many recordings for RCA. He sang in two complete opera broadcasts on radio under Toscanini - LA TRAVIATA in 1946 and UN BALLO IN MASCHERA in 1953 - both of which were later issued on CD. He wrote two autobiographies, ONCE MORE FROM THE BEGINNING (1965) and BETWEEN ACTS (1976), as well as a novel, THE DIVAS (1978). He received a number of honorary doctorates and awards."
- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 26 Oct., 2004