La Gioconda  (Zinka Milanov, Baum, Warren, Barbieri, Siepi)  (3-Gala 100.637)
Item# OP1850
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Product Description

La Gioconda  (Zinka Milanov, Baum, Warren, Barbieri, Siepi)  (3-Gala 100.637)
OP1850. LA GIOCONDA, Live Performance, 3 Jan., 1953, w.Cleva Cond. Zinka Milanov, Kurt Baum, Leonard Warren, Cesare Siepi, Fedora Barbieri, Jean Madeira, etc.; LA GIOCONDA – Excerpts, Live Performance, 3 March, 1945, w.Cooper Cond. Stella Roman, Frederick Jagel, Leonard Warren, Bruna Castagna, Margaret Harshaw, etc. (Portugal) 3-Gala 100.637. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 8712177054855


"Ready and willing, [Milanov] offers what is perhaps the most emotional, fully committed performance of her long broadcast career¦. As Milanov fills Ponchielli's churning lines with splendid arcs of sound, the heroine's pain and sorrow are fully exposed - the soprano, too, has opened her heart to us. One expects Milanov to soar grandly over the third-act choral mass, but more welcome is the wide dynamic range of her singing, especially in the final act's 'Suicidio' is a flamboyant example of her art. As seems appropriate to the theatre, the reading is more expansive than in her celebrated recording - in the abandon of her portrayal she flirts with danger throughout the afternoon. Milanov and Gioconda are one - Gioconda looms as the ultimate image of her stage persona and vocal manner."

- Paul Jackson, SIGN-OFF FOR THE OLD MET, p.153

"Fedora Barbieri, a dramatic mezzo-soprano celebrated for Verdi interpretations that were extensively preserved on records and film, was gifted with a large, opulent voice. Miss Barbieri was of the same generation as Cesare Siepi, Giuseppe di Stefano, Boris Christoff and Jussi Bjorling. A favorite with European audiences from the 1940s on, she later won acclaim in New York, particularly for her appearances as Azucena in IL TROVATORE, AMNERIS in AIDA, ADALGISA in BELLINI'S NORMA, and in the Verdi REQUIEM.

Her 1950 New York debut itself entered opera history, coming on the night Rudolf Bing first faced his audience as the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera. He opened an era with a boldly ambitious revival of DON CARLO in which Miss Barbieri sang the role of Princess Eboli.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service had turned Bing's entire inaugural season into a cliffhanger days before the curtain rose on it. Acting under the 1950 Internal Security Act, it confined shiploads of arriving aliens on Ellis Island on the grounds that they could be threats to the United States; Miss Barbieri, Christoff and Zinka Milanov were among them.

Miss Barbieri's offense was attending school in Fascist wartime Italy, a circumstance that she stated in her visa application. She and the other soloists were freed just in time for the show to go on.

Miss Barbieri, Mr. Bjorling (in the title role) and Mr. Siepi, making his debut as Philip II, appeared in what Olin Downes of THE NEW YORK TIMES described as an occasion that revealed afresh 'the melodic opulence and dramatic power of Verdi's genius'. Miss Barbieri, he said, was a 'superb mezzo from Italy, with a kindling dramatic temperament'.

Fedora Barbieri made her professional debut in 1940 as Fidalma in Cimarosa's MATRIMONIO SEGRETO. She sang her first Azucena the next night and repeated Fidalma the night after that, a feat that quickly established her reputation in Europe as a masterly interpreter of the Italian repertory at its most demanding.

She sang in Rome, made her debut at La Scala in 1943, sang in South America and went to London with La Scala in 1950. She made an immediate impression at Covent Garden, singing Mistress Quickly in FALSTAFF, and giving one of her stirring performances in the REQUIEM.

She remained a regular at La Scala and sang at the Metropolitan primarily in the 1950s and 60s. Of her many Verdi roles, she favored Eboli in her earlier years, but later leaned toward the lower registers of Azucena and Amneris. She finally found Mistress Quickly best attuned to her voice. Her repertory included 109 roles."

- Wolfgang Saxon, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 7 March, 2003

"Leonard Warren emerged as the principal baritone of the Met’s Italian wing in the early 1940s and remained so until his untimely death on the Met’s stage, 4 March, 1960, at the peak of his career. His smooth, velvety, and beautiful voice was powerful and had an unusually large range in its high register. It was easily and evenly produced, whether he sang softly or roared like a lion….Warren acted his roles primarily by vocal coloring, expressivity, and his excellent diction….his singing was unusually consistent….Warren’s legacy should be of interest to all lovers of great singing."

- Kurt Moses, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Nov./Dec., 2006