OP0973. AÏDA, Live Performance, 11 March, 1950, w.Cooper Cond.Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Ljuba Welitsch, Ramón Vinay, Merrill, Margaret Harshaw, Jerome Hines, etc. (E.U.) 2-Walhall 0142. Final copy! - 4035122651423
"None could doubt that Welitsch is prima donna on this afternoon, both in the literal and old-fashioned sense of the term. Beauties abound. Welitsch's solid core of silvery tone conjures up remembrance of Rethberg in its combination of honey and ice....I doubt that any major soprano of modern times has been more willful in performance....Welitsch's singing is essentially instrumental in conception and execution.....'O terra addio' is glorious, an effortless stream of pure, silvery tone."
- Paul Jackson, SATURDAY AFTERNOONS AT THE OLD MET, pp.471-72
“Ljuba Welitsch's performance in the title role of SALOME on 4 Feb, 1949, was regarded as one of the most memorable in Metropolitan Opera history. The packed house had turned out mainly to hear Fritz Reiner make his Met début as a conductor, but by the time the performance ended, with at least 15 minutes of cheering and whistling from an ecstatic audience, Miss Welitsch had become an international star. A few days later, Miss Welitsch dazzled the critics again, displaying her versatility in the title role of Verdi's AÏDA and prompting Howard Taubman of The Times to call her ‘one of the few perfect singers to come to the Met in recent years’.' But Miss Welitsch's extensive repertory and her determination to make up for the years on the international stage that she had lost during World War II shortened her operatic career. She drove her voice mercilessly, and by the mid-1950's, critics seemed to agree that her best singing was behind her.
At the Met, she appeared in 63 performances between her début and her final appearance, in the nonsinging role of the Duchesss of Krakenthorp in Donizetti's FILLE DU REGIMENT on 17 Feb., 1972. Besides Salome and Aïda, her Metropolitan Opera roles included Donna Anna in DON GIOVANNI, the title role in TOSCA, Rosalinde in Johann Strauss' DIE FLEDERMAUS and Musetta in LA BOHEME.
But most of Miss Welitsch's career was spent in Europe, where she was coached by the composer when she made her Vienna Opera debut in a special performance of SALOME that celebrated Richard Strauss' 80th birthday in 1944. Even when her career in grand opera faded, Miss Welitsch's love of performance kept her busy into the early 1980's in operetta, films, radio, television and on the stage.
Welitsch began her professional career in 1936 with the Graz Opera Company which played a 10-month season that enabled Miss Welitsch to build her repertory. From 1941 to 1943 she sang in Hamburg and from 1943 to 1946 in Munich. In 1943 she also joined the Vienna Opera, where she made her noteworthy Vienna début in SALOME the next year. When she made her English début with the company in 1947, she dazzled audiences at Covent Garden, and by 1948 she had sung SALOME more than 50 times and appeared in more than 40 other roles. That summer, while abroad, Edward Johnson, the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, heard Miss Welitsch and engaged her to sing in New York the following year.”
- Lawrence van Gelder, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 6 Sept., 1996
"Chilean-born Ramón Vinay began his operatic career as a baritone (Mexico City, 1938), singing many of the major baritone roles…, but after study with tenor René Maison, he began a second career as a tenor (Mexico City, 1943), and after a long, distinguished career as a tenor, returned to the baritone repertoire in the 1960s, retiring in 1969 with a final Iago. He was most noted for tenor roles requiring great heft and power….His services were in demand everywhere."
- Charles H. Parsons, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, May/June, 2006
“Margaret Harshaw (made her professional début in the dramatic mezzo-soprano rôle of Azucena in IL TROVATORE with The Philadelphia Operatic Society in 1934. She entered the graduate program at The Juilliard School in 1936, where she studied with Anna E. Schoen-René, who had been a student of Pauline Viardot-García and her brother Manuel García. It was at Juilliard where Harshaw, after singing the rôle of Dido in Purcell’s DIDO AND AEANEAS, met Walter Damrosch who prophesied: ‘My child, one day you will be Brünnhilde!’. She won the Metropolitan Opera’s ‘Auditions on the Air’ in 1942, and made her Met début as the second Norn in Wagner’s GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG. Gifted with an extended range, Harshaw sang many mezzo-soprano rôles for the next nine seasons before she entered soprano territory in 1951 when she sang the rôle of Senta in THE FLYING DUTCHMAN. By 1954 she had inherited the mantel of Kirsten Flagstad and Helen Traubel, and sang all the leading Wagnerian soprano rôles, including Isolde, Brünnhilde, Elisabeth, Kundry and Sieglinde. Harshaw retired in 1964 from the Metropolitan Opera after having sung 375 performances of 38 rôles in 25 works over 22 consecutive seasons. She then became a professor of voice at Indiana University in 1962, where she taught until 1993. She also taught at the Curtis Institute of Music and Westminster Choir College. Among her many students are Benita Valente, Vinson Cole, Matthew Polenzani, etc."
- Daniel James Shigo
“Robert Merrill made his Metropolitan début as Germont on 15 Dec., 1945, and celebrated his 500th performance there on 5 March, 1973. He remained on the Met roster until 1976. During his tenure with the Met, Mr. Merrill sang leading roles in much of the standard repertory, including the title role in RIGOLETTO, Germont in LA TRAVIATA, Figaro in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, Escamillo in CARMEN and Tonio in PAGLIACCI; he appeared in most of these many times. Regarded as one of the greatest Verdi baritones of his generation, he was known for the security and strength of his sound, as well as for the precision and clarity with which he could hit pitches across his two-octave range.
‘Although he occasionally appeared in Europe and South America, he preferred to base his career at the Metropolitan Opera, where he sang all the major baritone roles of the Italian and French repertories’, Peter G. Davis wrote of Mr. Merrill in THE NEW GROVE DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN MUSIC. ‘In terms of vocal endowment, technical security and longevity, he was unequaled among baritones of his generation at the Metropolitan’. ‘After Leonard Warren's tragic death onstage at the Metropolitan in 1960, Merrill became more or less indisputably America's principal baritone and perhaps the best lyricist since Giuseppe de Luca’, the critic J. B. Steane wrote in his book THE GRAND TRADITION. ‘The easy and even production of a beautifully well-rounded tone is not common, especially when the voice is also a powerful one; yet this is, after all, the basis of operatic singing, and Merrill's records will always commend themselves in these terms. Mr. Merrill made many recordings for RCA. He sang in two complete opera broadcasts on radio under Toscanini - LA TRAVIATA in 1946 and UN BALLO IN MASCHERA in 1953 - both of which were later issued on CD. He wrote two autobiographies, ONCE MORE FROM THE BEGINNING (1965) and BETWEEN ACTS (1976), as well as a novel, THE DIVAS (1978). He received a number of honorary doctorates and awards.”
- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 26 Oct., 2004