OP2009. SAMSON ET DALILA, Live Performance, 14 March, 1953, w.Cleva Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Risë Stevens, Ramón Vinay, Sigurd Björling, Norman Scott, Luben Vichey, etc. (E.U.) 2-Walhall 0292. - 4035122652925
“The March 1953 Met relay of SAMSON ET DALILA brought two of the house’s most highly paid singers of the time as the eponymous opponents. Often, Met broadcasts present soloists who have recorded relevant rôles commercially. The Samson here, Ramón Vinay, did not. He is always associated with Otello but had a much wider repertoire, whereas the Dalila, Risë Stevens, who twice recorded excerpts from this opera, had far fewer rôles. She is vocally steady, tonally rounded but not particularly sensual. Vinay, though not a paragon of subtlety, is interesting partly because of his dark timbre and his ardency. For him alone this set is worth acquiring. Sigurd Björling, forsaking Wagner, sings the High Priest, with slightly grizzled tone. Norman Scott takes a good line in Abimélech’s aria, while Luben Vichey brings an even more bass sound to the Old Hebrew. Fausto Cleva conducts in a clear recording.”
- John T. Hughes, CLASSICAL RECORDINGS QUARTERLY, Winter, 2010
“Risë Stevens is a fiery and juvenile Octavian in two live performances conducted by Bodanzky opposite Lotte Lehmann, Marita Farell and Emanuel List [OP1074], and in a performance under Fritz Reiner opposite Eleanor Steber, Erna Berger and Emanuel List (all at their best) [OP2054]. Both recordings are a ‘must’.
She sings a young and ardent Cherubino in Vittorio Gui’s production of LE NOZZE DI FIGARO which belongs to the most lively recordings of the work (ensemble singing!) [OP1310].”
- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile
“By the time Risë Stevens was 18, she was appearing regularly, sometimes in leading roles, with the Little Theater Opera Company, a Brooklyn troupe. (The company was later known as the New York Opéra-Comique). In the audience one night was Anna Schön-René, a well-known voice teacher on the faculty of the Juilliard School. She began teaching Ms. Stevens privately, and arranged for her to attend Juilliard on a scholarship, starting in the fall of 1933. Ms. Stevens spent two and a half years at Juilliard, where she continued her studies with Schön-René. Though Ms. Stevens had been considered a contralto, Schön-René discerned her true vocal register and helped lighten her voice for mezzo roles. In 1935, financed by Schön-René, Ms. Stevens spent the summer at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, where her teachers included the distinguished soprano Marie Gutheil-Schöder.
Ms. Stevens returned to Europe, making her formal operatic début in Prague, as Mignon, in 1936. Joining the Met in 1938, she made her first appearance with the company on 22 Nov., singing Octavian out of town in Philadelphia. On 17 Dec., she performed for the first time on the Metropolitan Opera stage in New York, singing Mignon.
In Ms. Stevens’ 351 regular appearances at the Met, her professionalism was perhaps never more apparent than it was in one of her many productions of SAMSON ET DALILA. Playing the temptress Dalila, Ms. Stevens reclined on a chaise longue to sing the aria ‘Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix’, among the most famous seductions in opera. One night, overcome with theatrical passion, Samson flung himself onto her mid-aria. Samson did not know his own strength. Under his considerable force, the chaise longue, on casters, began to move. Ms. Stevens sailed offstage and into the wings, still singing."
- Margalit Fox, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 21 March, 2013
"Chilean-born Ramón Vinay began his operatic career as a baritone (Mexico City, 1938), singing many of the major baritone roles…, but after study with tenor René Maison, he began a second career as a tenor (Mexico City, 1943), and after a long, distinguished career as a tenor, returned to the baritone repertoire in the 1960s, retiring in 1969 with a final Iago. He was most noted for tenor roles requiring great heft and power….His services were in demand everywhere."
- Charles H. Parsons, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, May/June, 2006