OP2056. PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE, Live Performance, 16 Jan., 1960, w.Morel Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Victoria de los Angeles, Theodor Uppman, George London, Giorgio Tozzi, Regina Resnik, etc. (E.U.) 2-Walhall 0318. - 4035122653182
“On 16 January, Morel offered the radio audience a performance of Debussy’s opera which captured its rarified essence…..Morel projects both its delicate imagery and underlying emotional turbulence. In this well-integrated performance, the conductor brings a welcome degree of life to the score….As a musician and vocalist, de los Angeles seems preordained to portray the elusive Mélisande….Uppman remains a model interpreter of the younger brother. His long acquaintance with Pelléas tells, both in vocal ease and in interpretative subtlety. The youth's impetuosity fairly spills out of Uppman’s throat….In both their vocal equipment and musical expressivity, London and Uppman suggest the widely disparate natures of the sibling princes….The sheer size of [London’s] voice, its black bulk, and the intensity of manner convey enormous menace.”
- Paul Jackson, SIGN-OFF FOR THE OLD MET, pp.344-45
“For sheer loveliness of timbre, affecting sensitivity, elegance of line and utter ease in florid passagework, de los Angeles was hard to top. By the 1950s she was a mainstay of opera houses around the world and widely admired for her portrayals of leading lyric soprano roles, including Puccini's Mimi and Madama Butterfly, Verdi's Violetta, Massenet's Manon, Bizet's Carmen and Debussy's Mélisande. Though her sound was not enormous, she knew how to project her voice so that it carried effortlessly in the opera house. She even sang lighter Wagner roles with effectiveness and allure, including Elisabeth in TANNHÄUSER, the role of her 1961 Bayreuth Festival debut in Germany, and Eva in DIE MEISTERSINGER.
‘We are a people that sings naturally’, she said in a 1980 interview, adding, ‘When we have a sorrow, it is a wonderful sorrow; when we have a happiness, it is a wonderful happiness, it is a big happiness’.
Born Victória Gómez Cima into a humble Catalan family in Barcelona, she studied at the Barcelona Conservatory, graduating in just three years in 1941 at age 18. That year, she made her operatic debut as Mimì at the Liceu, but then resumed her musical studies. In 1945, she returned to the Liceu to make her professional debut as the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro. After winning first prize in the Geneva International Competition in 1947, she sang Salud in Falla's LA VIDA BREVE with the BBC in London in 1948. In 1949 she made her first appearance in the Paris Opéra as Marguerite. The following year, she debuted in Salzburg and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Mimi, and the United States with a recital at Carnegie Hall. In March, 1951, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in New York as Marguerite, singing with the company for ten years. She made noted recordings of LA VIDA BREVE, LA BOHEME, PAGLIACCI, and MADAMA BUTTERFLY. The last three paired her with renowned tenor Jussi Björling. She also sang at La Scala in Milan from 1950 to 1956. In 1957 she sang at the Vienna State Opera. After making her debut at the Bayreuth Festival as Elisabeth in 1961, she devoted herself principally to a concert career. However, for the next twenty years, she continued to make occasional appearances in one of her favourite operatic roles, Carmen. She was among the first Spanish-born operatic singers to record the complete opera in 1958, a recording conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham using the recitatives added by Ernest Guiraud after Bizet's death. Though Carmen lay comfortably in her range, she nevertheless sang major soprano roles, best known of which were Donna Anna, Manon, Nedda, Desdemona, Cio-Cio-San, Mimi, Violetta and Mélisande. Like Montserrat Caballé, she was a true exponent of bel canto singing. De los Ángeles performed regularly in song recitals with pianists Gerald Moore and Geoffrey Parsons, occasionally appearing with other eminent singers, such as Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. On January 15 2005, Victoria de los Ángeles died of heart failure in Barcelona at age 81."
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 16 Jan., 2005
“Regina Resnik, a Bronx-born opera star who sang more than 300 performances at the Metropolitan Opera and who made the shift from soprano to mezzo-soprano in the middle of her career, died on 8 Aug., 2013, in Manhattan. She was 90.
Ms. Resnik made her Met début in 1944 as Leonora in IL TROVATORE and over the years performed many of opera’s most important roles on its most prominent stages, including those of the New York City Opera, the San Francisco Opera, Covent Garden and other European houses. Her best-known roles include Ellen Orford in Britten’s PETER GRIMES, Donna Anna and Donna Elvira in Mozart’s DON GIOVANNI and the title role in Bizet’s CARMEN. Later in her career she performed in musical theater and became a sought-after instructor and opera director. She was known for her strong dramatic skills and impeccable musicianship onstage and for her bold personality offstage. She displayed fearlessness from the beginning.
In 1942, she made her début at the New Opera Company of New York after being given 24 hours’ notice that she was needed to substitute. Two years later, she made a similar last-minute substitution in her début at the Metropolitan Opera as Leonora, in IL TROVATORE. Each time she impressed. ‘All things considered, Miss Resnik’s début was an auspicious one’, a review of her Metropolitan début in The New York Times said. ‘She has a strong, clear soprano, which, though occasionally marred by a tremolo, is both agile enough for the florid passages allotted to Leonora and forceful enough for the dramatic ones’.
Ms. Resnik became a much-admired soprano and toured widely through the mid-1950s, when she and others began to notice that her voice was darkening. A friend, the baritone Giuseppe Danise, helped persuade her to change, telling her he believed she had always been a mezzo. ‘It was the biggest gamble of my life, when I decided over two tumultuous years that perhaps I was not a soprano after all’, she told The Times in 1967. ‘There were many opinions: I was a soprano with low notes, or mezzo with high notes’. The gamble paid off, she said, and it ultimately provided her with better roles, including some of her most notable, as Carmen, Klytemnestra in ELEKTRA, Mistress Quickly in FALSTAFF and the Countess in PIQUE DAME. ‘I have really run the gamut’, she added, emphatic that she had not lost her upper register. ‘And my range is exactly the same today. Not one note higher or lower. But I was happier in the depth of my voice than in its height’.
Ms. Resnik graduated from James Monroe High School in the Bronx and studied music education at Hunter College, graduating in 1942.
‘She was a totally American original’, said F. Paul Driscoll, the editor in chief of Opera News. ‘She was always very proud of being educated in the United States and beginning her career in the United States’. Mr. Driscoll emphasized Ms. Resnik’s resilience, particularly under Rudolf Bing, the sometimes autocratic general manager of the Met, for much of her career. ‘She embraced the opportunities she was given, and whether or not Mr. Bing thought they were star parts, she made them star parts’, Mr. Driscoll said. ‘Directors loved her, conductors loved her, and the audience loved her’.”
- William Yardley, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 9 Aug., 2013
“Regarded by many as second only to Pierre Monteux among conductors of the French repertory, Jean Paul Morel became another of those important musical figures lost to Europe because of WWII. After biding his time in South America, he joined the New York Opera and later, the Metropolitan Opera. As a teacher, however, his effect on America's musical culture was even stronger as he guided a number of gifted students to maturity. Exceedingly well-trained, Morel had the benefit of studies with several exceptional musical specialists. In particular, his work in Paris with Noël Gallon who taught him theory; with Gabriel Pierné who instructed him in composition; and with famous composer, conductor, and singer Reynaldo Hahn, who worked with him on the song and opera literature, afforded him a grounding that made him a subtle and reliable leader of orchestras and an excellent teacher.
Indeed, he began as an instructor at the American Conservatory at Fountainebleau where, at age 18, he was as young as some of his students. He remained at the conservatory from 1921 to 1936, a period in which he also built a reputation as a conductor with a number of prominent French orchestras and with the Opéra-Comique. After the connection ended, he conducted at the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro and at Mexico City's Palacio de Bella Artes. Morel's American career opened with an instructorship at Brooklyn College from 1940 to 1943. On 12 November, 1944, he made his début with the New York City Centre Opera (as the company was known then), conducting a performance of LA TRAVIATA with Dorothy Kirsten as Violetta. Subsequent works under his leadership included CARMEN, MIGNON, LOUISE, AND LA BOHÈME. Morel remained a respected member of the company until 1951, when he resigned in protest over the company's dismissal of its first general director (and conductor) Lazlo Halasz. The board had actually approached Morel about taking on the directorship and had been met with not only his refusal, but with his wish to resign over the treatment accorded Halasz. The board declined to accept the resignation, claiming that Morel was obligated to remain for another year. When Joseph Rosenstock was hired as general director, Morel again sought his release and was refused. Citing a clause that no member of the musical staff would have pre-eminence over Morel other than Halasz, Morel persisted. Facing the threat of a breach of contract action, the board finally accepted Morel's resignation. In 1949, meanwhile, Morel had joined the Juilliard School of Music staff and began building an enviable reputation for turning out brilliant conductors, James Levine and Leonard Slatkin among them. Five years after his departure from the New York City Opera, Morel joined the conducting staff at the Metropolitan Opera, making his début with a 21 November, 1956, performance of Offenbach's LA PÉRICHOLE premiering in a new English-language production. In a total of nine seasons stretching to 1971, Morel conducted five works from the French repertory, as well as Gluck's ORFEO ED EURIDICE and MADAMA BUTTERFLY. His final season at the Metropolitan Opera coincided with his last year at Juilliard. During his more than two decades at the New York school, his instruction and leadership of the Juilliard Orchestra had brought a high level of distinction to its conducting program.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com