OP0295. MEFISTOFELE, recorded 1931, w.Molajoli Cond. La Scala Ensemble; Mafalda Favero, Giannina Arangi-Lombardi, Nazzareno de Angelis, Antonio Melandri, Giuseppe Nessi, etc.; Nazzareno de Angelis: Arias from Barbiere, Mosè, Nabucco & Don Carlos, recorded 1927-29. (Canada) 2-Naxos 8.110273/74. Transfers by Ward Marston. Long out-of-print, final copy! - 636943127322
“This was the first and is perhaps the best of all recordings of Boito's opera MEFISTOFELE. Boito is more famous as being the librettist for Verdi's Otello and Falstaff, and Ponchielli's La Gioconda, but he was also a composer in his own right, and his finest achievement is his opera MEFISTOFELE, based on the Faust legend. This 1931 recording represents it well, showing off the Italian singing talent of the time. The highlight is Nazzareno de Angelis in the title rôle. His rich, dark voice and fine characterisation skills show up later basses who attempted this rôle, including Norman Triegle and Nicolai Ghiaurov. The Faust is Antonio Melandri, now almost completely unknown, but he is a fine tenor, up to the demands of the role. Mafalda Favero is Margherita, a beautiful soulful portrayal. It is a real treat to have Giannina Arangi-Lombardi, one of the great Italian dramatic sopranos of the time singing Helen of Troy. Molajoli conducts well, with great fondness for the score. This is the very best of MEFISTOFELE recordings. Of course, the sound is not the best, but this is hardly important with performing of this quality.”
"Giannina Arangi-Lombardi began her career in Rome as a mezzo in 1920 but four years later, after further study, emerged again as a soprano, making her second début in Milan. Born near Naples in 1891, Arangi-Lombardi was one of the most admired 'classical-style' sopranos of her day, basing her career at La Scala; she appeared in South America and throughout Europe in a number of spinto rôles and her portrayals of Lucrezia Borgia, Aïda and La Gioconda were specially successful. In retirement she taught in Milan and Turkey and died in Italy in 1951."
- Paul Campion
“One of many Italian artists whose American careers were cut short by pre-WWII anxieties, lyric soprano Mafalda Favero sang only two performances at the Metropolitan Opera in 1938, both as Mimi. For those who heard her there, however, the experience was indelible. Her voice, lovely appearance, and dramatic gifts proclaimed her an ideal interpreter of Puccini's much beset heroine, and her gift for creating electricity on-stage marked her as one of the most sympathetic artists of her era. Despite of, or because of, a generous use of vibrato (common to the Italian singers of the day), she managed vocal realizations with rare completeness. By 1929, she had been engaged by La Scala. Following her successful début there as Eva in a DIE MEISTERSINGER production conducted by Toscanini, she remained at La Scala for 26 years. Although Milan remained her home theater, Favero sang in other major Italian cities such as Naples and Rome and at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. At Covent Garden, she was regarded as a positive Liù to the indomitable Turandot of Eva Turner and a charming Norina in 1937, and in 1939, an attractive (though overactive) Zerlina and once again a moving Liù. In addition to her lyric rôles, Favero regularly ventured into spinto territory with such parts as Adriana Lecouvreur, Iris and Madama Butterfly. The latter rôle, the singer claimed, had shortened her career by five years.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
“During his 36-year career, de Angelis appeared on stage on more than 1500 occasions, performing a repertoire of 57 different operas. He was especially celebrated for his powerful portrayal of the title rôle in Boito's MEFISTOFELE, which he sang at least 500 times between 1906 and 1938. Making his début at La Scala in 1907, and appearing often under the baton of La Scala's principal conductor, Arturo Toscanini, in 1913, he created there the rôle of Archibaldo in Montemezzi's L'AMORE DEI TRE RE. He also sang at the Paris Opéra, in 1909, as the High Priest in Spontini's LA VESTALE. Other than singing at the Lyric Opera of Chicago during the years 1910-11 and 1915–20, de Angelis' career was based almost entirely in Europe. He did, however, make a sequence of acclaimed appearances at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, beginning with the 1911 season.
de Angelis possessed one of the most impressive bass voices produced by Italy; his was a big, dark and well blended vocal instrument with strong top notes and plenty of stamina and carrying power. Chronologically, de Angelis succeeded the famous late-19th century basses Francesco Navarini and Vittorio Arimondi and anticipated the rise to prominence in the 1920's of Ezio Pinza and Tancredi Pasero. He made his first recordings in 1907/08 for Fonotipia, and his last in the late 1920's and early '30s for Columbia. In 1931, he recorded MEFISTOFELE in Milano. It is the only rôle that he recorded in its entirety.”
“Antonio Melandri is a spinto tenor who sang Radames and Samson, both large-voiced roles….He made his début in his late 20s at Novara in 1924 and sang regularly at La Scala between 1926-1934. He continued to appear at other Italian houses until the early 1940s.”
- David Cutler THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2014
"The shadowy figure of Lorenzo Molajoli is a mystery in the annals of opera. Nothing seems to be known of his career other than that he conducted many recordings in the 1920's and 1930's, mostly for Columbia in Milan. From the evidence of those discs he was clearly a very competent musician, experienced at handling large orchestral and vocal forces - and yet where? What can be established is that he served with considerable distinction as the house conductor in Milan for Italian Columbia, recording complete operas and accompanying a large number of singers, in addition to making recordings of a number of operatic overtures. Molajoli conducted twenty complete or abridged operas for Columbia between 1928 and 1932.”
- Paul Campion