OP1989. LE NOZZE DI FIGARO (in Swedish), Live Performance, 9 May, 1937, Göteborg, w.Sandberg Cond. Swedish Royal Opera Ensemble; John Forsell, Brita Hertzberg, Joel Berglund, Helga Görlin & Emile Stiebel; JOHN FORSELL: The Last Singing Despot, incl. Songs by Stenhammar, Sjögren, Lindblad, Jänefelt, Sibelius, Peterson-Berger, Rangström, Eriksson, etc.; Arias from Barbiere, Nozze, La Favorita, Don Giovanni, St Paul, Guillaume Tell, Carmen, Faust, Mignon, Il Trovatore, Rigoletto, Aïda, Tannhäuser, Die Walküre & Eugen Onégin, recorded 1903-22. (Austria) 4-Caprice 21586. Slipcase Edition, w.183pp. Libretto-softbound book in Swedish & English, featuring Forsell Chronology; exhaustive Liledahl Discography. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed copy! - 723723403926
“John Forsell was a prominent Swedish baritone, opera administrator and teacher of voice. He was the leading baritone of the Royal Swedish Opera (RSO) from 1896–1918, and thereafter sang roles periodically with the company until his last stage performance in 1938. From 1923-1939 he served as the director of the RSO. He also sang leading roles as a guest artist with opera companies internationally, drawing particular acclaim for his portrayal of the title character in Mozart's DON GIOVANNI. In 1899, Forsell was awarded the Litteris et Artibus and, a decade later, he was named a Hovsångare. The Royal Swedish Academy of Music awarded him membership in 1906.
Forsell become the Director (Intendant) of the Royal Swedish Opera at the start of the 1923-1924 season, and performed less frequently on stage as a consequence. His voice, however, remained in fine condition. His final opera performance was on his 70th birthday when he sang the role of Count Almaviva in Mozart's NOZZE DI FIGARO at the RSO. He retired from his director's position in May 1939 and died in Stockholm two years later.
In addition to his administrative duties at Stockholm's opera house during the 1920s and '30s, Forsell taught voice as a professor of singing at the Royal College of Music, Stockholm. His pupils included Joel Berglund, Jussi Björling, Magna Lykseth-Scherfven, Aksel Schiøtz, Hjördis Schymberg, Set Svanholm, and Inez Wassner.
Forsell's gramophone legacy consists of several batches of acoustic 78-rpm discs of arias and songs (made initially by the Gramophone & Typewriter Company prior to World War I) and some subsequent electrical recordings of live stage performances. Many of these recordings are available on modern CD reissues, most notably a four- disc anthology produced in 1994 by Caprice Records (CAP 21586) [above]. When discussing Forsell's impressive legacy on disc, the British audio restoration engineer Keith Hardwick has this to say: ‘His voice was a dark, warm, expressive baritone, very well produced and equalized’.”
- Zillah Akron Dorset
“Commanding a voluminous bass-baritone of striking beauty and perfect formation for Wagner (deep pedal tones in the lower register firmly supporting a sturdy middle and finely focused upper register), Joel Berglund enjoyed considerable success in several international venues before assuming the directorship of the Stockholm Opera in his mid-forties. Berglund continued to sing in numerous productions there for another decade while guiding the fortunes of his country's foremost opera house. Berglund ranks with the twentieth century's foremost artists in his vocal category in addition to having been a shrewd and galvanizing singing actor.
After study at the Stockholm Conservatory with the famous baritone John Forsell, Berglund made his début with the Stockholm Opera as Monterone (RIGOLETTO) in 1929 and continued as a house artist in Stockholm for the ensuing two decades. Thereafter, he combined singing with administrative responsibilities as the company's director (1949 - 1956) and, still later, appeared regularly as a guest artist until 1964. Following appearances in America as a concert singer, the Metropolitan Opera became interested in Berglund to bolster its roster of artists capable of sustaining heroic roles in Wagner and Strauss. Expected at the Metropolitan on the eve of WWII, Berglund was kept by the hostilities from his New York stage début while the aging Friedrich Schorr was sorely tested in continuing to meet the needs of the bass-baritone wing. Berglund did sing abroad, however, making an appearance at Bayreuth in 1942 as Vanderdecken in DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER.
When Berglund finally arrived at the Metropolitan as ‘a strong, well-detailed Sachs’ in a 9 January, 1946 MEISTERSINGER, he was welcomed as an artist of the first rank. In quick succession, Berglund impressed critics and audiences alike as the WALKÜRE Wotan and Kurwenal. During the 1946 - 1947 season, a 15 March PARSIFAL enabled Berglund to prove how comfortable he was in the lower reaches of a true bass role when he sang a Gurnemanz to particular acclaim. Earlier, he sang a powerful Wanderer in SIEGFRIED. During the 1947 - 1948 season, a RING cycle mounted concurrently with the Metropolitan's first venture with PETER GRIMES was strengthened considerably by Berglund's participation, his RHEINGOLD Wotan being singled out both for his canny portrayal of the young god and for the sovereign command he brought to his singing.
In his final season at the Metropolitan, Berglund was the Jochanaan at the 4 February début of Ljuba Welitch in SALOME, and managed not to disappear under her dramatic and vocal onslaught. Indeed, his virile singing and realization of the prophet's fanaticism enabled the red-haired soprano to surpass herself and provide the New York house one of the most talked-about nights in its history. Just before his return to Sweden to assume the directorship in Stockholm, Berglund repeated his ‘excellent’ Gurnemanz, thereafter leaving the Metropolitan without a leading bass-baritone until the arrival of Hans Hotter and Paul Schöffler.
While Berglund's American career focused on Wagner and Strauss, he sang French and Italian roles in Sweden (primarily in the Swedish language). He was an insinuating Méphistophelès in FAUST and a profoundly troubled Athanaël in THAÏS. In the Italian repertory, he was celebrated for his Scarpia as well as for his Simon Boccanegra and Filippo II in DON CARLO. Berglund's stage savvy and flexible singing technique made him a notable Figaro in Mozart's LE NOZZE DI FIGARO.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com