OP2168. AÏDA, Live Performance, 21 April, 1960, w.Sanzogno Cond. La Scala Ensemble; Birgit Nilsson, Giulietta Simionato, Pier Miranda Ferraro, Cornell MacNeil, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Agostino Ferrin, etc. (E.U.) 2-Myto 00266. Specially priced. - 0801439902664
“Nilsson made so strong an imprint on a number of rôles that her name came to be identified with a repertory, the ‘Nilsson repertory’, and it was a broad one. She sang the operas of Richard Strauss and made a specialty of Puccini's TURANDOT, but it was Wagner who served her career and whom she served as no other soprano since the days of Kirsten Flagstad.
A big, blunt woman with a wicked sense of humor, Ms. Nilsson brooked no interference from Wagner's powerful and eventful orchestra writing. When she sang Isolde or Brünnhilde, her voice pierced through and climbed above it. Her performances took on more pathos as the years went by, but one remembers her sound more for its muscularity, accuracy and sheer joy of singing under the most trying circumstances.
Her long career at the Bayreuth Festival and her immersion in Wagner in general, began in the mid-1950s. No dramatic soprano truly approached her stature thereafter, and in the rôles of Isolde, Brünnhilde and Sieglinde, she began her stately 30-year procession around the opera houses of the world. Her United States debut was in San Francisco in 1956. Three years later she made her début at the Metropolitan Opera, singing Isolde under Karl Böhm, and some listeners treasure the memory of that performance as much as they do her live recording of the rôle from Bayreuth in 1966, also under Böhm. The exuberant review of her first Met performance appeared on the front page of The New York Times on 19 Dec., 1959, under the headline, ‘Birgit Nilsson as Isolde Flashes Like New Star in 'Met' Heavens’."
- Bernard Holland, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 12 Jan., 2006
“Born Pietro Ferraro in Altivole, Ferraro took his stage name from his wife's first name. He was trained by Mirko Bonomi at the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello in Venice and by Aureliano Pertile at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan. He made his professional opera début as Rodolfo in Puccini's LA BOHÈME at the Teatro Nuovo in Milan in 1951. That same year he began performing at La Scala where he sang often through 1972. His first major triumph at that house was as Achille in Gluck's IPHIGÉNIE EN AULIDE in 1959.
Ferraro became a regular presence at Italy's most important houses during the 1950s through the 1970s, appearing at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Teatro Carlo Felice, Teatro di San Carlo, Teatro Regio di Parma, Teatro Massimo, Teatro Comunale Giuseppe Verdi, Teatro Regio di Torino, and La Fenice. He also appeared at the opera festival at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome and at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino opera festival. In addition to regularly appearing in Italy's principal opera houses, Ferraro also performed in important houses throughout Europe, including the Royal Opera at Covent Garden, the Liceu, Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, La Monnaie, Opéra National de Lyon, Opéra de Marseille, Opéra National de Paris, le Grand Théâtre de Genève, Zürich Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Staatstheater Stuttgart, and Vienna State Opera among others. He also made appearances at the Aix-en-Provence and Aldeburgh Festivals.
Although most of his performances were in Europe, Ferraro did make a handful of appearances in North and South America. He notably portrayed Cavaradossi and Manrico at the New York City Opera in 1956 and starred in productions of DON CARLO, LA FORZA DEL DESTINO and IL TROVATORE at the San Francisco Opera in 1958. Also in 1958, Ferraro sang the rôle of Gualtiero in Bellini’s IL PIRATA with Maria Callas as Imogene in a concert version put on by the American Opera Society at Carnegie Hall. That performance, long prized by collectors, was ‘officially’ released on CD by EMI in 1997. The year after PIRATA, Ferraro recorded the rôle of Enzo in LA GIOCONDA opposite Callas in the title rôle. His other appearances in the Americas included performances at the Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company, Cincinnati Opera, and the Teatro Colón. Ferraro was particularly admired for his interpretation of the title rôle in Verdi's OTELLO, which he first sang at San Remo in 1964 and sang for his final opera performance at Lecco in 1981. All told he portrayed Otello over 300 times during his long career.”
“I personally prefer live recordings. What they lose in technical perfection they gain in vitality and spontaneity. A studio version cannot escape the danger of substituting a lovely collage for a true interpretation….I know for certain that there are many live recordings that are genuine as well as beautiful.”
- Birgit Nilsson, LA NILSSON, pp.238-39