OP0403. IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, Live Performance, 10 April, 1943, w.St Leger Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Bidù Sayão, Nino Martini, John Brownlee, Ezio Pinza, etc. (Italy) 2-The Forties 307/08. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 8011662905420
“Bidú Sayão is herself a diminutive package, but her impact on this performance is immense. Could any Rosina excel Sayão’s portrayal in this broadcast?....She turns every moment of song, every word of recitative, to account and makes Rosina a vivid personality. And how fluently she sings the music, her tone constantly pure and lovely, the fioriture not only accurate but given a musical life of their own Ä every phrase is knowingly shaped....In the lesson scene she stays with Rossini (at least his Semiramide) and her 'Bel raggio' shows her mastery of bel canto."
- Paul Jackson, SATURDAY AFTERNOONS AT THE OLD MET, pp.231-32
“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 Reszké 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.”
“Between 1912 and 1914, Frank St. Leger toured as the pianist for the Cherniavsky Trio. He served in the Australian army for two years, following which he was appointed the pianist and conductor for the Dame Nellie Melba. His position with Melba brought St. Leger to the United States in 1917. Subsequently he held positions with the American Opera Company, the Royal Opera at Covent Garden, and, beginning in 1929, a staff position with the Civic Opera of Chicago. In 1932 St. Leger was engaged as the music director of the Houston Symphony which he resigned following the season of 1934-1935. Following a position directing the Central City Opera in Colorado, St. Leger accepted, in 1939, a position as an assistant conductor for the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He remained at the Metropolitan for the following eleven years, holding subsequent positions as regular conductor, musical secretary, and company assistant manager in charge of repertory. St. Leger departed New York in 1950, and in 1953 joined the music faculty of Indiana University as professor of music. Upon his retirement in 1963, he was designated emeritus professor of music; after his retirement from full-time status at Indiana, he continued there part-time, coaching voice and opera.”
- Zillah D. Akron