La Traviata  (Toscanini;  Albanese, Peerce, Merrill)  (2-Music & Arts 4271)
Item# OP0456
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Product Description

La Traviata  (Toscanini;  Albanese, Peerce, Merrill)  (2-Music & Arts 4271)
OP0456. LA TRAVIATA, Dress Rehearsal, recorded 1946, w.Toscanini Cond. Licia Albanese, Jan Peerce, Robert Merrill, etc. 2-Music & Arts 4271. [Because the dress rehearsals did not constitute a real performance, given before a paying audience, Toscanini himself participates uninhibitedly. We frequently hear him hushing his singers and orchestra or enthusiastically cheering them on, throwing out a monitory ‘Crescendo!’ or ‘Legato!’ or simply singing along. And in Act II, Scene 1, we are surprised to hear him, in his hoarsely croaking baritone, taking the role of Violetta's servant Guiseppe in place of a missing singer.] Transfers by Graham Newton. Final Sealed Copy! - 017685427121

CRITIC REVIEWS:

“Indeed, the tenor’s vocal solidity seems indestructible. Peerce, heard here in the fifth of his six impersonations of Riccardo, had sung the rôle in Toscanini’s NBC Symphony concerts of January, 1954; though one does not look for variety of tone or graceful nuances with this tenor, his musical rectitude and dramatic continence are capital assets.”

- Paul Jackson, SIGN-OFF FOR THE OLD MET, p.194



"The basic tonal quality [of Peerce’s voice] is bright, ringing, and firmly focused on the note….The superior diction that Toscanini so admired is abundantly audible, as is the elegant musicianship and fervent declamation. Most striking of all [Peerce] exudes an infectious self-confidence and absolute security in his vocal personality, virtues that cannot be taught."

- Peter G. Davis, THE AMERICAN OPERA SINGER, p.421



“Jan Peerce was known as ‘Toscanini's tenor’, with his clean, incisive singing, exceptional breath support, and immediately distinctive timbre. After his New York song recital in 1964, Theodore Strongin wrote in The New York Times: ‘He is a phenomenon, a master professional, a tenor of impeccable poise and control. His enunciation is completely clear, no matter what the language. His fortissimos fill the hall. His pianissimos, though remarkably soft, come through as clearly as many singers' fortissimos, so solid is the basic quality of his voice’. Mr. Peerce participated in Toscanini's broadcasts of LA BOHEME, LA TRAVIATA, FIDELIO, UN BALLO IN MASCHERA and the last act of RIGOLETTO. Many of these were released by Victor as commercial recordings. On 14 May, 1941, Mr. Peerce made his stage début as the Duke in RIGOLETTO in Philadelphia. He made his Metropolitan Opera début on 29 Nov., 1941, as Alfredo in LA TRAVIATA. In his Metropolitan Opera years, Mr. Peerce concentrated on the Italian repertory. From 1941 to 1968 at the Met, Mr. Peerce sang 205 performances in 11 operas, plus 119 performances on tour. His last complete stage performance at the Metropolitan Opera took place on 21 Feb, 1966, in DON GIOVANNI. On 16 April, 1966, he was one of the participants in the Metropolitan's farewell gala, the last performance in the old opera house.

‘Basically’, Robert Merrill said, ‘Jan was a lyric tenor with a heavier voice than most lyrics’. Mr. Merrill, the baritone who sang many times with Mr. Peerce, said that the tenor kept his voice to the very end because he never forced. ‘He never went out of his repertory’, Mr. Merrill said. ‘The Met offered him many roles that he refused to accept because he thought they were too heavy for him. Jan stuck to what he knew he could do. He produced a beautiful sound and had a perfect legato. He also had high notes, and who can forget the C he used to take at the end of the first act of BOHEME? Everybody at the Met loved Jan. He had temperament, sure, but never a bothersome ego’.

James Levine, who first heard Mr. Peerce in Cincinnati many years ago and later worked with him professionally, described Mr. Peerce as ‘one of the most extraordinary singers and human beings I have ever known’. He paid tribute to the tenor's ‘stylistic versatility, rhythmic élan, communicative ability and wide repertory’.

When he was not singing at the Metropolitan Opera, Mr. Peerce was giving concerts. He never could stand still. But the basic condition of his voice never changed, and he thrived on a schedule that would have killed most other singers. He also appeared in European opera houses, and in 1956 was the first American ever to sing at the Bolshoi Opera in Moscow since the war.

His films included appearances in CARNEGIE HALL, TONIGHT WE SING and GOODBYE, COLUMBUS. He recorded for many companies. For many years Mr. Peerce was one of the steadiest, most reliable singers before the public. He attributed his vocal longevity to a secure technique.”

- Harold C. Schonberg, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 17 Dec., 1984