OP1357. L'AMORE DEI TRE RE (Montemezzi), Live Performance, 15 Feb., 1941, w.Montemezzi Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Grace Moore, Ezio Pinza, Charles Kullman, Richard Bonelli, Alessio de Paolis, etc. (England) 2-Guild 2234/35. [Another vivid demonstration of all that is missing in opera performances of today! This verismo jewel belongs in every operatic collection! Very long unavailable, it is wonderful to have a few copies, once again.] - 795754223521
“This particular performance has been around in pirated LPs and CDs. But it can surely never have been heard as well as on this most excellent Guild transfer. It is Ezio Pinza who easily walks away with the vocal honours. As the blind Archibaldo, his magnificent voice radiates majesty and authority. It is unlikely that the role has ever been better sung."
- Vivian A. Liff, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Oct., 2003
“With Pinza, one has no reservations. From his first entrance his powerful vocalism and textural clarity are riveting. Here is a mighty king whose blindness seems a mere inconvenience. Though Pinza cannot fully shelter his vitality, he is in complete command of the many moods of his character; The ferocity of his scene with Fiora, which gradually gives way to solemn quiet as, after he chokes her, he whispers ‘Silenzio!'; surely stage whispers have never resonated more. Moore achieves [her] goal in good part due to the sensual quality of her voice....evidently her work with the composer brought results, for the music is impressively sung in the big moments and quite evocative in some of the more intimate scenes."
- Paul Jackson, SATURDAY AFTERNOONS AT THE OLD MET, p.246
“…In L’AMORE DEI TRE RE the most famous moment in the whole opera is probably that at the end of act 2 where the blind old king picks up the corpse of fiora, whom he has recently strangled, slings her over his shoulder and with knees bent and shaking (as was reported of pinza in earlier days when his burden for the evening was Rosa Ponselle) bears her off into the wings. Musically, however, much of the interest throughout lies in the orchestra.
Moore sings extremely well but lacks the dramatic subtlety and power with words to make her part memorable in detail. Pinza is magnificent, and Kullman and Bonelli, completing the royal trio, sing with resonant tone and growing intensity: Bonelli especially impresses; a fine baritone of whom there are all too few recordings.”
“Charles Kullman was one of the first American singers to establish a career in Europe before returning to his home country in triumph. His successes in Berlin, Vienna, Salzburg and London, and his work with such conductors as Otto Klemperer, Bruno Walter and Arturo Toscanini made it possible for him to join the Metropolitan, where he sang a remarkably varied repertory in 402 performances - 283 in New York, 119 on tour - between 1935 and 1960. Although never one of the greatest opera stars - in part because his international career was hindered in its prime by World War II - Mr. Kullman was a deeply respected artist.
In the late '30s there was hardly any domestic circuit for young American singers. Mr. Kullman did tour for a season with Vladimir Rosing's pioneering, English-language American Opera Company, but realized that his best hope for success was to establish a European career. Mr. Kullman auditioned in Berlin for Klemperer, who at that time was director of the Kroll Opera, the experimental wing of the Berlin State Opera. He made his début with the Kroll as Pinkerton in Puccini's MADAMA BUTTERFLY on 24 Feb., 1931. The Kroll Opera shut down at the end of that season, but Mr. Kullman was taken on by the State Opera proper, where he sang until 1936. His tenure in Berlin was cut short by his defiance of a Nazi ban on German-based singers appearing at the Salzburg Festival in Austria, where Toscanini and Walter were attempting to establish an anti-Fascist counterweight to the German summer festivals. Mr. Kullman, who was now singing regularly in Vienna, as well, performed often with those conductors, including Walter's first recording of Mahler's DAS LIED VON DER ERDE and Toscanini's famous productions of Beethoven's FIDELIO and Verdi's FALSTAFF at Salzburg. Mr. Kullman's Met début took place on 20 Dec., 1935, in the title role of Gounod's FAUST.
At the Met, Mr. Kullman's repertory included 33 parts, ranging from Mozart, to mainstream Italian tenor roles, to French operas, to the lighter Wagner. His most frequently sung role was Eisenstein in DIE FLEDERMAUS, which he performed 30 times. In 1956 he accepted a teaching position at Indiana University in Bloomington, but continued to sing at the Met.�
- John Rockwell, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 11 Feb., 1983
“Richard Bonelli's operatic début came on 21 April, 1915 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as Valentin in Gounod's FAUST. He toured with the San Carlo Opera Company between 1922 and 1924. He toured Europe in 1925, making appearances at the Monte Carlo Opera and La Scala and was eventually engaged in Paris. Between 1925 and 1931 Bonelli performed with the Chicago Opera Company and between 1926 and 1942 frequently performed at the San Francisco Opera. Bonelli's Metropolitan Opera début came on1 December, 1932 as Verdi's Germont and he remained on the Met's active roster until 1945, making his final performance as Rossini's Figaro on 14 March that year. He was the Tonio in the first ever live telecast of opera, from the Met on 10 March, 1940 alongside Hilda Burke and Armand Tokatyan. Of his many roles, Bonelli was known best for his Verdi roles, and also Wolfram, Tonio and Sharpless. In Italy, he performed under the name Riccardo Bonelli. He also appeared in two movies; a supporting role in 1935's ENTER MADAME and a cameo appearance in 1941's THE HARD-BOILED CANARY.
After retiring from singing, Bonelli became a successful voice teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, and in New York. Among his students were Frank Guarrera, Enrico Di Giuseppe, Lucine Amara, and Norman Mittelmann. In 1949 when Edward Johnson retired from his position of general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, Bonelli was a contender for the job though it ultimately went to Rudolf Bing. Bonelli's favorite baritone was Titta Ruffo . American baritone Robert Merrill had stated that Bonelli was his inspiration to study singing, after hearing him perform the Count di Luna at the Met alongside Giovanni Martinelli and Elisabeth Rethberg in 1936. Even after retiring from teaching, he periodically performed on stage into his 80s. His later appearances were more on the West Coast of the United States. He was actor Robert Stack's uncle. Bonelli died in Los Angeles on 7 June, 1980 at the age of 91."
- Z. D. Akron
"After his initial exit...[Bonelli, at his début] was recalled by long applause. But this did not satisfy the audience. Miss Ponselle had to go offstage to bring him back before the opera could continue."
- Robert Sabin, MUSICAL AMERICA, 15 Jan., 1951