OP0525. L’HEURE ESPAGNOLE (Ravel), Live Performance, 11 Nov., 1965, w.Jean Fournet Cond. Chicago Lyric Opera Ensemble; Teresa Berganza, Alfredo Kraus, Sesto Bruscantini, etc.; Teresa Berganza: Arias from La Cenerentola & L’Italiana in Algeri – from RAI broadcasts, 1957 & 1958. (Slovenia) Living Stage 1115. Long out-of-print, final copies! - 3830257411154
“Teresa Berganza was born in Madrid and studied piano and voice at the Madrid Conservatory where she was awarded first prize for singing in 1954. She made her concert début there in 1955. Berganza made her operatic début as Dorabella in COSÌ FAN TUTTE in 1957 at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. That same year, she made her Teatro alla Scala début and the following year her début at Glyndebourne In 1959, Berganza made her first appearances at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Rosina in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, which became one of her signature roles. In 1967, she made her Metropolitan Opera début as Cherubino in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO.
As a recitalist, Berganza made her Carnegie Hall début in 1964. From 1957 to 1977 Berganza was married to the composer and pianist Félix Lavilla, with whom she recorded and performed regularly and with whom she has three children, including soprano Cecilia Lavilla Berganza.
In 1992, Berganza participated in the opening ceremonies of Expo '92 in Seville and the opening ceremonies of the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. In 1994, she became the first woman elected to the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. In 1996, she was awarded the Premio Nacional de Música. She currently teaches singing at the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía, continues to perform music of Spanish composers, and gives master classes all over the world.“
Z. D. Akron
“The matter with Kraus is that he inaudibly makes tension grow before the emotional climaxes of the operas so that when they finally arrive, the audiences are unconsciously frenzied, awaiting for what is to come.
A leading lyric tenor of his generation, Alfredo Kraus parlayed his vocal and artistic gifts into one of the longest and best managed careers in recent memory. Always careful -- both in choice of roles and in the regulation of his performing schedule - not to overextend himself, he achieved a degree of consistency and longevity that kept him active professionally well into his sixties, always applauded for his youthful tone and delivery. Among his vocal assets were an admirable top extension - which included an enviable D above high C - a warm tone, and an instinctive feel for the shape of phrases, especially in French repertory. He, Carlo Bergonzi, and Nicolai Gedda were noted for their style, refinement, and musicianship in an era when, especially in Italian opera, tenors often neglected such qualities. He starred in the title role of Viladamot's 1959 film GAYARRE, a biography of the famous Spanish tenor.
While he studied music as a youngster, Kraus had no intention of becoming a professional singer, until friends and family began encouraging him to do so. In taking up vocal studies, Kraus avoided heavier repertory and focused on the bel canto ‘tenore di grazia’ parts that he knew were right for his voice. At the age of 28, he won first prize at the Geneva Competition, and a representative of the Cairo Opera, who was present at the auditions, offered him the role of the Duke in RIGOLETTO; he made his professional opera début at the Cairo Opera in that role in 1956. His great success there was followed by equally gratifying appearances in Venice, Turin, and Barcelona, and in 1958, he appeared in LA TRAVIATA with Maria Callas in Lisbon - the ‘Lisbon TRAVIATA’. In 1959, he sang Arturo in I PURITANI for the first time, made his La Scala and Covent Garden débuts, followed by his Metropolitan Opera début in 1965 and Salzburg début in 1968. In Rome, he sang his first WERTHER, a role that, like Arturo, was to become one of his signatures.
Aside from his fine sense of the musical nuance and phrasing, his portrayal of the mentally unstable, morbid, masochistic, and manipulative character of Werther has been acclaimed as one of the most effective and insightful readings ever. During the 1980s, he began to limit the number of his performances even further (at the peak of his career, he never sang more than 50 in a year), and started to turn his attention to teaching, although even in the 1990s he still had an active performing schedule. Kraus died on 10 September, 1999, after an extended illness.”
“During a career that lasted 45 years, the Italian bass-baritone Sesto Bruscantini acquired an enormous repertory that was notable for the range, musical and dramatic, of the roles that he sang, as well as for their number.
At first a bass, specialising in the comic roles of Mozart, Rossini and Donizetti, he moved up the scale to baritone and even, for some years in the middle of his career, took on the high Verdi baritone roles. His voice was not huge, but so well projected that no strain showed, however florid or heavy the vocal line. But it was his skill in characterisation that enabled Bruscantini to sing so many roles in such different styles. He had a tremendous success at Glyndebourne in the 1950s, and at the Chicago Lyric during the 1960s, and sang at La Scala, Milan, the Rome Opera and many other Italian cities throughout his career.
He had already won a singing competition at Florence, and in 1945 studied for a year in Rome with Luigi Ricci. To pay for his studies he wrote comments in verse on topical news for a weekly paper. After making his professional début in 1946 at Civitanova as Colline in LA BOHÈME, he spent a year at the Rome Opera School, singing small roles such as the Notary in GIANNI SCHICCHI, and the First Nazarene in SALOME. He also sang in many concerts and began a fruitful relationship with Italian Radio as Sulpice in Donizetti's LA FILLE DU RÉGIMENT.
Bruscantini first sang at La Scala in 1949, as Don Geronimo in Cimarosa's IL MATRIMONIO SEGRETO, a role that would remain in his repertory for many years. In 1950 he sang Selim in Rossini's IL TURCO IN ITALIA in Rome, with a stellar cast including Maria Callas, Cesare Valletti and Mariano Stabile. The following year he returned to La Scala for Dr Dulcamara in Donizetti's L'ELISIR D'AMORE, another role he would still be singing some 40 years later. He also sang Masetto in DON GIOVANNI. Nineteen fifty-one was the 50th anniversary of Verdi's death, and Bruscantini sang Baron Kelbar in UN GIORNO DI REGNO for Radio Italiana.
At Glyndebourne that summer of 1951 he made his début as Don Alfonso in COSÌ FAN TUTTE. Singing Fiordiligi was the Yugoslav soprano Sena Jurinac. The following year he moved to Guglielmo in COSÌ FAN TUTTE and also scored a huge success as Dandini in Rossini's LA CENERENTOLA, both of which were quite definitely baritone roles. After leaving Glyndebourne he went straight to Salzburg, where he sang the title role of Donizetti's DON PASQUALE. Later that year he sang his first Mozart Figaro in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO for Netherlands Opera. Early in 1953 he returned to La Scala for Leporello in DON GIOVANNI and Tadeo in Rossini's L'ITALIANA IN ALGERÌ.
Back at Glyndebourne that summer he repeated his wonderfully comic and elegant Dandini, and returned to Don Alfonso. In June he and Sena Jurinac were married in Lewes, appearing in COSÌ FAN TUTTE the same evening. They also sang together in the prologue to Strauss’ ARIADNE AUF NAXOS, with Jurinac as the Composer and Bruscantini as the Music Master, an unusual excursion into German opera – he sang Papageno in THE MAGIC FLUTE, but only in Italian. His marriage to Jurinac was at first a great success, but later they grew apart and the marriage was dissolved – with great difficulty on Bruscantini's side.
In the summer of 1954 he sang Rossini's Figaro in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA at Glyndebourne, and with the company in Edinburgh took on Raimbaud in Rossini's LE COMTE ORY. Meanwhile he was appearing in Genoa, Venice, Naples, Rome, Bologna and Lisbon. At Glyndebourne in 1955 he sang both Mozart's and Rossini's Figaro, demonstrating his ability to bring a character to vibrant life. He felt that the mainspring of Rossini's Figaro was money and that of Mozart's was love; a third Figaro, in Paisiello's IL BARBIERE, which was also in his repertory, was the only one motivated, like the Beaumarchais original, by revolutionary politics. Bruscantini gained another baritone role in Malatesta in DON PASQUALE at Genoa in 1958, but early the following year reverted to Pasquale at La Scala.
In 1959 he appeared at the Royal Festival Hall in London with the Virtuosi di Roma in three 18th-century comic operas, as Uberto in Pergolesi's LA SERVA PADRONA, as Don Bucefalo in Fioravanti's LE CANTATRICI VILLANE and in the title role of IL MAESTRO DI CAPPELLA by Cimarosa, a one-man show that peopled the stage with imaginary characters and always brought the house down.
Nineteen-sixty was a milestone in Bruscantini's career. In February and March he sang the four baritone villains in LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN and Marcello in LA BOHÈME at the San Carlo, Naples. Then at Glyndebourne in the summer he took on his first Verdi baritone role, Ford in FALSTAFF. He repeated Ford at Edinburgh and in Turin, then in November he made his US début in Chicago as Rossini's Figaro.
In 1962 he sang his first Posa in Verdi's DON CARLOS at Trieste. Other high baritone roles followed, and in 1965 another new Verdi role, Renato in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, at Florence. This was followed by Giorgio Germont in LA TRAVIATA at Genoa in 1966. The elder Germont was perhaps Bruscantini's finest baritone characterisation. He sang it in Madrid, Chicago, Palermo and Parma, during the 1960s, and at Marseilles in 1971, with Renata Scotto as Violetta. The depth of feeling he brought to the role was unique in my experience, and he evoked enormous sympathy for a personage who is often taken to be unsympathetic.
Bruscantini made a very belated Covent Garden début in 1971 as Rossini's Figaro. He returned to London in 1974 as Malatesta in DON PASQUALE, which was very well received. In 1976 his fine rendering of Simon Boccanegra in the original, 1857 version of Verdi's opera was broadcast by the BBC on New Year's Day, and the following month he sang his first Falstaff with Scottish Opera in Glasgow. Though he made the fat knight a lonely, rather sad old man, he lit the performance with many sly touches of humour.
In 1977 Bruscantini made the first of three visits to the Wexford Festival, during which he directed the operas as well as singing in them. A triple bill of IL MAESTRO DI CAPPELLA, LA SERVA PADRONA and RICCI'S LA SERVA E L'USSERO was followed in 1979 by CRISPINO E LA COMARE by the Ricci brothers, and in 1981 by Verdi's UN GIORNO DI REGNO, in which Bruscantini sang Baron Kelbar, exactly 30 years after singing the role for Radio Italiana. In 1980 the 60-year-old Bruscantini made his début at the Metropolitan Opera, as Taddeo in L'ITALIANA, followed by Dr Dulcamara in L'ELISIR D'AMORE.
He continued to sing throughout the 1980s, appearing at Salzburg three years running as Don Alfonso in COSÌ FAN TUTTE. At Houston he took on Dr Bartolo in IL BARBIERE. He returned to Glyndebourne in 1985 as Don Magnifico. In 1986 he sang Iago (never one of his best roles) at Dallas in an emergency and obtained a new Rossini role at Bordeaux, Asdrubale in LA PIETRA DEL PARAGONE. In 1988 he sang Don Alfonso in Los Angeles, the four villains in Madrid. In 1989 he sang Michonnet in Rome. In 1990, also in Rome, he sang a new role, the Magistrate in WERTHER, and sang a final Don Alfonso in Macerata. He was 70.
After retiring from the opera stage, he started a school of singing in Civitanova.”
- Elizabeth Forbes, THE INDEPENDENT, 11 May, 2003