OP1707. LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, Live Performance, 4 July, 1972, Buenos Aires, w.Martini Cond. Teatro Colón Ensemble; Beverly Sills, Alfredo Kraus, Gian-Piero Mastromei, Victor de Narké, etc. (E.U.) 2-West Hill Radio Archives WHRA 6013. - 4015023160132
“With her vibrant, cheery personality, soprano Beverly Sills always was a favorite of the general public, among the most effective spokespersons the arts have had in America. The child of immigrant parents, Sills (born Belle Miriam Silverman) discovered singing at an early age; at four she was on a morning radio program as ‘Bubbles’ Silverman, and by age seven she had sung in a movie. At 16 she joined a touring Gilbert and Sullivan company. Her most important vocal studies were with Estelle Liebling, who had been a favored soprano of John Philip Sousa. In 1947, she made her operatic début as Frasquita in CARMEN at Philadelphia. She toured North America during the 1951-1952 season with the Charles Wagner Opera Company, singing Violetta in LA TRAVIATA and Micaëla (CARMEN). After singing in Baltimore and San Francisco, she made her début at the New York City Opera, which was to become her artistic home for over two decades. She once again sang Violetta in that début, but soon expanded her repertoire to include a wide range of roles. Among the twentieth century operas in which she performed were Moore's THE BALLAD OF BABY DOE, Nono's INTOLLERANZA, and Weisgall's SIX CHARACTERS IN THREE ACTS. In 1966, she reached international fame with performances as Cleopatra in Handel's GIULIO CESARE. Her performances of Donizetti's ‘Tudor triology’ - ROBERTO DEVEREUX, MARIA STUARDA and ANNA BOLENA, solidified her stature on the international scene. She made her La Scala début as Pamira in Rossini's THE SIEGE OF CORINTH in an edition prepared by conductor Thomas Schippers. In 1975, she made her début at the Metropolitan Opera in the same role; she had already sung Donna Anna in a concert performance there in 1966. Her Vienna début in 1967 as the Queen of the Night in Mozart's DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE was one of her few performances of this role. She regularly sang many other important roles in both Italian opera and in works from other countries.
She retired from performing at the age of 50, with an appearance in Menotti's LA LOCA, and accepted the position of General Manager of the New York City Opera. In 1991, she joined the board of the Metropolitan Opera, and four years later became head of New York's Lincoln Center. Sills sang regularly in concerts and recitals containing the arias from her famous roles. Her concert performance of the first version of Richard Strauss' ARIADNE AUF NAXOS is justly famous, since Zerbinetta's aria in this version is much more difficult than in the revised version.
Her basic voice was a light, high soprano with excellent technique and breath control. She was best heard in roles where fragility of character was paramount, such as Marie in Donizetti's LA FILLE DU RÉGIMENT, Puccini's MANON LESCAUT, and Violetta. By sheer power of character she held her own in operas normally best served by larger voices as well.
Her autobiography was published in 1976 with the title ‘Bubbles: A Self-Portrait’ and was revised in 1981 as ‘Bubbles: An Encore’; another autobiography, ‘Beverly’, followed in 1987.”
- Richard LeSueur, allmusic.com
“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.”