OP1478. LA BOHEME, Live Performance, 10 Feb., 1940, w.Papi Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Bidú Sayão, Armand Tokatyan, Giuseppe de Luca, Annamary Dickey, Ezio Pinza, etc.; LA BOHEME, Live Performance, 31 Jan., 1948, w.Antonicelli Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Ferruccio Tagliavini, Bidú Sayão, John Brownlee, Mimi Benzell, Nicola Moscona, Salvatore Baccaloni, etc. (E.U.) 3-West Hill Radio Archives WHRA 6009. Transfers by Ward Marston & Ed Wilkinson. - 4015023160095
“Sayão's technical mastery appeared not to include a well-knit trill, but superb phrasing, splendid diction, acting ability and a svelte figure made her a compelling artist both on stage and on the recital platform....What further eulogies can be written about this charming, mid-century songbird? A Jean de Reszke pupil and the worthy successor to the delicious Lucrezia Bori at the Met, she enjoyed a long career in the lighter French repertoire and is remembered with deep affection by all who had the good fortune to hear her in her prime.”
- Vivian A. Liff, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, May / June, 2011
“One of the most important elements that made Bidú Sayão such a unique artist among other singers and frankly among most instrumentalists was that she was a musician first….In 1923, Teodorini introduced Bidú to her former professor, Jean de Reszke, who concentrated on teaching her the French opera repertoire. After de Reszke’s death in 1925 Sayão continued her studies with Cotogni’s own disciple, Luigi Ricci (1893-1981), who worked with great opera composers such as Giordano, Leoncavallo, Mascagni, and Respighi, as well as coaching celebrated singers such as Ezio Pinza, Tito Gobbi, Benjamino Gigli and Fyodor Chaliapin….What makes her so unique even among the greats is that she found a way to combine, in perfect harmony, two naturally contradicting qualities rarely found in one artist: technical perfection and passion in abundance.”
- Mordecai Shehori, CLASSICAL RECORDINGS QUARTERLY, Winter, 2010
"De Luca’s generosity of spirit and undiluted optimism were still apparent in his Marcello in the 1940 broadcast [above]. He had been before the public prior to the turn of the century and had created Sharpless in the world premiere of BUTTERFLY in 1904 and Michonnet in ADRIANA LECOUVREUR two years earlier….He is reluctant to leave the scene (not only on this afternoon), and he clearly fancies himself the star of the occasion."
- Paul Jackson, SATURDAY AFTERNOONS AT THE OLD MET, pp.202-03
“Nearly any time opera lovers discuss inherently beautiful voices, Tagliavini's name is sure to come up. His smooth lyric tenor had a luxurious timbre, reminiscent of Tito Schipa's, and was also warm and extremely expressive. In another resemblance to Schipa, he had a particular gift for vocally caressing a phrase without making it sound like a studied effect, and could sing piano and pianissimo without crooning. He excelled in the lighter, lyric repertoire, and for many was the definitive Nemorino, Nadir (Les Pêcheurs de Perles), Ernesto (Don Pasquale), and Fritz (L’AMICO FRITZ) of his generation, or for some, even the century. He and composer Pietro Mascagni became close friends, and Mascagni claimed that Tagliavini was instrumental in making L’AMICO FRITZ a success. During his early years, he focused on this lyric repertoire, but as his career advanced, he added heavier roles, such as Loris Ipanov in Giordano's FEDORA, Riccardo in Verdi's BALLO, and Cavaradossi in Puccini's TOSCA. These roles were not as well-suited to his voice, and after taking these on, he showed definite signs of vocal wear.
After World War II, he gathered a wide following among American GIs still based in Italy. His La Scala début was in 1942, also as Rodolfo, as was his United States début in Chicago in 1946, and his Met début in 1957. In addition to his stage performances and recordings, he also appeared in many popular films, mostly of the light and sentimental type. He retired from the stage in 1965, but gave annual performances at Carnegie Hall through 1981. He was married to soprano Pia Tassinari, whom he met in 1940, (they later divorced), and during their marriage they frequently appeared together, as their repertoire was very often complementary. Their recording of L’AMICO FRITZ, conducted by the composer is a classic.”
- Anne Feeney, allmusic.com
“Of Armenian extraction, this handsome tenor achieved success in both opera and concert work. Armand Tokatyan brought an extraordinarily varied background to his American career, achieving success through cultivated presentation, distinguished bearing, and a voice of attractive quality. As a boy, Tokatyan traveled with his parents to Egypt where he sang in cafés, attracting approving reactions from those who heard him. Sent to Paris to study tailoring, he instead sang in the cafés of the city's Left Bank. Persuaded to try operetta, he achieved great success, attaining matinee idol status through his attractive appearance and polished stage manner. After being urged by the stage manager of the Cairo Opera to pursue a career in opera, Tokatyan traveled to Milan in 1919 to study voice and repertory. His 1921 operatic début took place at the Teatro Dal Verme as de Grieux in a production of Puccini's Manon LESCAUT. At the insistence of conductor Giuseppe Bamboschek, Tokatyan left for America to try his luck. Through Bamboschek's auspices, he was engaged by Antonio Scotti's interesting but short-lived opera company and while there, made a deep enough impression to prompt a contract offer from the Metropolitan Opera. For the decade beginning with his 14 February, 1923, début, Tokatyan regularly appeared with the company, concentrating on the Italian and French repertories. Critics were for the most part complimentary, citing the passion, fervor, tenderness, and grace of his singing. His stage deportment, no doubt having benefited from his experience in operetta, also aroused enthusiastic comments. Tokatyan participated in the company premiere of de Falla's pithy LA VIDA BREVE in 1936, and in 1928, undertook the high baritone role of Prunier in the first Metropolitan of Puccini's seldom-performed operetta LA RONDINE. During this period, his expanding career also took him to Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, as well as to many of Europe's important opera houses. In early 1933, Tokatyan left the Metropolitan to pursue his concert work, make occasional appearances in opera at such large venues at Lewisohn Stadium and the Hippodrome, and to appear on radio broadcasts. His Covent Garden début took place in 1934 when he sang a generally well-liked Calaf in TURANDOT. He remained with the Met through 1946….his recordings are valued as mementos of a special artist, both manly and refined in utterance”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com