OP0090. AÏDA, Live Performance, 6 March, 1943, w.Pelletier Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Zinka Milanov, Bruna Castagna, Giovanni Martinelli, Richard Bonelli, Ezio Pinza, etc. (Italy) 2-GOP 784. Very Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 8012719998426
"...what ringing, manly tone [Bonelli] pours into the night air along the Nile....Bonelli imbues the scene with some intimacy, a directness in commanding his daughter to which Milanov responds with surprisingly appealing character touches....Tibbett, Thomas, Warren, Weede - the field was crowded and choices had to be made, but from Bonelli's broadcast performances one feels that the scales were unjustly tipped."
- Paul Jackson, SATURDAY AFTERNOONS AT THE OLD MET, p.351-52
"The [above] broadcast marks Martinelli’s final Radames with the Metropolitan….the spirit of this old warrior is always willing, and more than sincerity carries the final act….Castagna offers the finest performance of the afternoon. Her voice is in prime condition, velvety and liquid….Bonelli is her equal in sure-throated sonority and idiomatic manner….what ringing, manly tone he pours into the night air along the Nile….[Milanov’s] uniquely full, floated soft tone remains a paragon for the ethereal yearning of ‘O terra addio’."
- Paul Jackson, SATURDAY AFTERNOONS AT THE OLD MET, pp.351/52
“It was the Nile scene that did it. Never in my life have I heard a pianissimo like that, or the pure vocal control she had....[We] used to sit up in the balcony for every one of Zinka's performances and just marvel at her singing. When we came to Prague, we didn't expect to hear anything like that. Of course, I had heard wonderful Aïdas in New York — Rethberg, for instance — as a Juilliard student who went to [performances at] the Met. But Zinka's voice made such a direct connection with you. I would say the way that sound came out into the opera house and just pulsated all around you, that was electrifying.”
- Risë Stevens (on hearing Milanov's Aïda in Prague)
“Milanov came like a bolt out of heaven - the voice and the young woman, both so vibrant and exciting. We knew something great had come into [the Met’s] Italian wing. What was not obvious at the beginning was that she would have such a staying power, for she gave so much in her singing.…I was present years later on her great anniversaries and she sang at mine [the fiftieth anniversary of [my] Met début, 1963]. She was incomparable. She was like a vocal sorceress singing the OTELLO arias that night. Such a roar went up from the public, I can never forget it.”
- Giovanni Martinelli
“Richard Bonelli's operatic début came on 21 April, 1915 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as Valentin in Gounod's FAUST. He toured with the San Carlo Opera Company between 1922 and 1924. He toured Europe in 1925, making appearances at the Monte Carlo Opera and La Scala and was eventually engaged by the Théâtre de la Gaîté in Paris. Between 1925 and 1931 Bonelli performed with the Chicago Opera Company and between 1926 and 1942 frequently performed at the San Francisco Opera. Bonelli's Metropolitan Opera début came on1 December, 1932 as Verdi's Germont and he remained on the Met's active roster until 1945, making his final performance as Rossini's Figaro on14 March that year. He was the Tonio in the first ever live telecast of opera, from the Met on10 March, 1940 alongside Hilda Burke and Armand Tokatyan. Of his many roles, Bonelli was known best for his Verdi roles, and also Wolfram, Tonio and Sharpless. In Italy, he performed under the name Riccardo Bonelli. He also appeared in two movies; a supporting role in 1935's ENTER MADAME and a cameo appearance in 1941's THE HARD-BOILED CANARY.
After retiring from singing, Bonelli became a successful voice teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, and in New York. Among his students were Frank Guarrera, Enrico Di Giuseppe, Lucine Amara, and Norman Mittelmann. In 1949 when Edward Johnson retired from his position of general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, Bonelli was a contender for the job though it ultimately went to Rudolf Bing. Bonelli's favorite baritone was Titta Ruffo . American baritone Robert Merrill had stated that Bonelli was his inspiration to study singing, after hearing him perform the Count di Luna at the Met alongside Giovanni Martinelli and Elisabeth Rethberg in 1936. Even after retiring from teaching, he periodically performed on stage into his 80s. His later appearances were more on the West Coast of the United States. He was actor Robert Stack's uncle. Bonelli died in Los Angeles on7 June, 1980 at the age of 91.”
- Ned Ludd