OP2239. LA TRAVIATA, Live Performance, 13 Jan., 1960, w.Santi Cond. Royal Opera House Ensemble; Virginia Zeani, William McAlpine, Jess Walters, Marie Collier, Michael Langdon, etc. (E.U.) 2-Myto 00297. - 0801439902978
“This Romanian opera star was just one of a group of outstanding sopranos condemned to pursue their careers in the shadow of Callas, Tebaldi and Sutherland….Zeani is revealed as a totally dependable singer. The voice is lovely, of slightly of occluded quality, and the scale even and well balanced through a wide range. Her interpretations are finely judged and often quite individual….”
- Vivian A. Liff, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Sept./Oct., 2009
“Virginia Zeani made her professional début in 1948 in Bologna, deputizing at short notice for Margherita Carosio as Violetta in LA TRAVIATA, and was immediately offered a tour of thirty more performances. Violetta was a rôle she would sing an estimated 648 times around the world, during her career. Her partner that evening was tenor Arrigo Pola (Alfredo), the voice teacher of Luciano Pavarotti.
In January 1950 she was invited to star in a three month season, in Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt, singing Violetta, Nedda, Micaela and most significantly Adina in L'ELISIR D'AMORE opposite Beniamino Gigli. She was 24, he was 60. In 1952 came an important step when, again at short notice, conductor Tullio Serafin chose her to replace Maria Callas as Elvira in I PURITANI in the Teatro Communale in Florence. Soon her growing reputation led to invitations to many of the major opera houses of Europe, and Violetta was her début rôle in Vienna and Paris. She made her début at La Scala, Milan in 1956, as (Cleopatra) in Handel's GIULIO CESARE, opposite Nicola Rossi Lemeni, whom she married shortly afterwards. Her London début eventually came in 1960, once again as an emergency replacement, but this time for the indisposed Joan Sutherland. She recalls arriving at the Royal Opera House at 4pm, after a sleepless night and flights from Vienna via Paris. There was just time for costume fittings and a brief rest before she walked, for the very first time, onto the Covent Garden stage. She had never before met any of the cast and had to ask ‘Which one is my Alfredo?’ That remarkable performance was broadcast world-wide and has been preserved on disc [above]. Zeani also appeared in Barcelona, Leningrad, Moscow, Philadelphia, Bucharest etc. and eventually in New York's Metropolitan Opera, as Violetta, in 1966.”
- Ned Ludd