OP0910. CARMEN (in Russian [except del Monaco [in Italian]), Live Performance, 13 June, 1959,
w.Melik-Pashayev Cond. Bolshoi Theatre Ensemble; Irina Archipova, Mario del Monaco, Irina Maslennikova, Pavel Lisitsian, etc.; PAGLIACCI (in Russian (except for del Monaco)), Live Performance, 20 June, 1959, w.Tieskovini Cond. Bolshoi Theatre Ensemble; Mario del Monaco, Leocadia Maslennikova, Alex Ivanov, etc.; Mario del Monaco: Arias & Scenes from Tosca, I Pagliacci & Otello – Live Performances, 1959, Moscow. (Slovenia) 3-Myto 053.311. Long out-of-print, final copies! - 608974503116
“Irina Arkhipova began studies with Savransky at the Moscow Conservatory and from 1954 to 1956 sang with the Sverdlovak Opera where her roles included Marina in BORIS GODUNOV, Eboli in DON CARLOS, Charlotte in WERTHER and Marfa in KHOVANSHCHINA. Her first appearance at the Bolshoi Theater was in 1956 as Carmen, which became one of her most famous roles. The Bolshoi became her operatic home and she sang all of greatest roles there. At the Bolshoi she was especially noted for roles in PIQUE DAME, WAR AND PEACE, TSAR'S BRIDE and MAZEPPA, as well as her earlier roles in BORIS GODUNOV, DON CARLOS and KHOVANSHCHINA. After 1960, she began to appear outside Russia and first won fame as Carmen in Naples. She sang Helene in Prokofiev's WAR AND PEACE at Teatro alla Scala in 1964 where in later seasons she sang Marina in BORIS GODUNOV and Marfa in KHOVANSHCHINA.
Her first American appearance was is a recital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with John Wustman as accompanist. Her sensational performance of Azucena at the Orange Festival in 1968 brought her even more international acclaim. Her San Francisco Opera début came in 1972 as Amneris. In 1975, she made her début at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Azucena. and in 1988 she returned to London as Ulrica in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA. Although she sang at the Metropolitan Opera House with the Bolshoi Theater several times, she did not sing with the Metropolitan Opera until 1997 when she sang Filippievna in EUGEN ONÉGIN at the age of seventy-two. She also appeared at the opera houses in Berlin, Paris, Hamburg, Lyon, Marseille, Belgrade and the Savonlinna Festival. She directed several opera productions as she moved into semi-retirement.
She was married to heldentenor Vladislav Piavko. In 1993, a voice competition was set up in her name
Arkhipova's voice was a full, rich mezzo-soprano with great power and intensity. She did not lose quality as she moved between vocal registers, and she understood what her vocal strengths were and did not try to move beyond her best repertoire. Her voice had some of the edge that was often found in Slavic voices, but this helped give her voice an individuality which is sorely lacking in many singers today.
Her recorded legacy is vast but much of it has been available only in Russia. While her Marina in BORIS GODOUNOV was reissued by Melodiya, her Eboli in DON CARLOS, Joan in the MAID OF ORLEANS (JEANNE D’ARC) by Tchaikovsky and Laura in Dargomizhsky's THE STONE GUEST are still unavailable. Almost none of her wonderful song recitals is currently available. In particular, the songs of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, and Mussorgsky bring out the best in her interpretive art.”
- Richard LeSueur, allmusic.com
“It was always a given that del Monaco possessed a remarkably powerful, steady voice with unsurpassed brilliance and power. He was, however, often criticized for singing with little finesse, for using his power unrelentingly. That was never true (his many live broadcast recordings give even stronger evidence of his ability to sing with light and shade)….I found myself thrilling to the sheer sound of the voice and to the commitment and passion with which he sang. What will surprise many is the variety of dynamics and color that the tenor did bring to his singing….It is easy for critics to comment on the method of a singer and to forget the most important element—the sound of the voice....His diction was a model of clarity and crispness, his intonation was almost always centered, and his rhythmic pulse was extremely strong. In many cases one listens to this kind of singing and longs for the days gone by when there were singers like this....old-timers...reminisce over one of the great operatic tenor voices to be heard in the 1950s and ‘60s, and younger listeners discover what a great ‘tenore di forza’ sounds like. We have nothing like him today.”
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE
“Mario del Monaco was one of the most widely recorded singers of the 1950's and 60's and divided his busy operatic career between Europe and America during those years. Sir Rudolf Bing, then manager of the Metropolitan Opera, heard Mr. del Monaco's debut as Radames in Verdi's AÏDA at the San Francisco Opera in 1950 and asked the tenor to stop in New York for a guest appearance at the Met in Puccini's MANON LESCAUT on his way back to Europe. Mr. del Monaco's singing made a distinct impression and won him a long and prosperous relationship with the Met beginning the next year. At the New York company from 1951 to 1959, he sang 102 times, in 16 roles. He appeared on the Met's tour 38 times. His last performance at the Met was as Canio in Leoncavallo's PAGLIACCI in 1959. But he returned three years later to Carnegie Hall in a concert of arias and duets with Gabriella Tucci.
Indeed, when Mr. del Monaco was loved, it was for the brilliant, stentorian quality of his voice rather than for his subtlety of phrase or ability to act. And in a profession often peopled by overweight tenors, Mr. Del Monaco offered a classic profile and dark good looks that made him an attractive presence on stage.
Mario del Monaco was born in Florence in 1915 and grew up in nearby Pesaro where his father was employed in city government. His parents were both musically inclined and encouraged his singing. Although he had some lessons, he was largely self-taught. Mr. del Monaco made his professional début in Puccini's MADAMA BUTTERFLY in Milan in 1941. He spent the war years in the Italian Army. After the war, Mr. del Monaco's career blossomed and spread to Milan's La Scala and London's Covent Garden as well as opera houses in Rome, Naples, Barcelona, Lisbon and Stockholm. In 1946, he sang in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, moved northward to Mexico City and then on to San Francisco for his American début. Mr. del Monaco's relationship with the Metropolitan Opera ended in 1959, reportedly by mutual consent, but he was recording until the end of the 1960's. In 1973, he joined a gathering of prominent tenors in Naples to honor Caruso's centenary and pres reports spoke of his ‘personal glamour and still thrilling dynamism’.
Mr. del Monaco retired to his villa near Venice later in 1973 and turned to teaching. Mr. del Monaco and his wife, Rina Fedora, a former singer, had two sons. One of them, Giancarlo, is now a stage director in Europe's opera world.”
- Bernard Holland, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 19 Oct., 1982
“Lisitsian had a major career….enjoying three decades as a leading artist at the Bolshoi. He was the foremost interpreter of Tchaikovsky’s baritone rôles – perhaps the finest Onégin of his time. He also created several rôles in works by Prokofiev and was admired for his interpretation of leading rôles in the operas of Verdi, Gounod, Bizet and Puccini. The voice was a supremely beautiful instrument used with the phrasing and sensitivity of a fine instrumentalist.”
- Vivian A. Liff, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Jan./Feb., 2011