OP2747. AÏDA , recorded 1928, w.Sabajno Cond. La Scala Ensemble; Dusolina Giannini, Aureliano Pertile, Irene Minghini-Cattaneo, Giovanni Inghilleri, Guglielmo Masini, etc. (England) 2-Romophone 89004. Transfers by Ward Marston. Elaborate booklet has discographic data, photos & notes by J. B. Steane. Very long out-of-print, Final Rare Copy! - 754238900426
"As Aïda, Dusolina Giannini has a voice of the old Italian school, with a rich middle and lower register….Irene Minghini-Cattaneo is a passionate, impressive Amneris….The Radames, Pertile, was the idol of La Scala in the 1920s….heard to great advantage here….Inghilleri as Amonasro is first rate – the duet with Giannini in the Third Act is the high spot of the whole performance….one of the most accomplished performances ever recorded of Verdi’s opera.”
- Patrick O’Connor, INTERNATIONAL OPERA COLLECTOR, Spring, 1999
“The daughter of Italian parents, Dusolina Giannini was born in Philadelphia in 1902 into a thoroughly musical family. Not only were both her parents professional musicians, but her brother, Vittorio, became a successful composer, and a sister, Euphemia, was a member of the vocal faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music for many years. At the surprising age of twelve Dusolina sang Cieca in LA GIOCONDA, and then Azucena in IL TROVATORE, at her father’s theatre. Her unexpected début in Carnegie Hall took place in 1923, deputising for an ailing colleague, and two years later, after training with Marcella Sembrich, she made a formal operatic début in Hamburg as Aïda. In demand throughout Germany, Switzerland, in London, Vienna and the USA, Giannini added such rôles as Leonora (LA FORZA DEL DESTINO), Santuzza and Butterfly, and sang Alice Ford and Donna Anna in Salzburg; a strenuous touring schedule took her coast-to-coast in the United States and to Australia and New Zealand. Her appearances with the Metropolitan company were few - twenty, spread over six seasons from 1936 - but she was the Tosca of the opening performance of New York City Opera in 1944, subsequently appearing there as Carmen and Santuzza. During those years she also sang in Chicago and San Francisco with popular, if sometimes controversial, success, one of her rôles being Kundry in PARSIFAL, conducted by Monteux . In 1949 she was guest artist at the Berlin Staatsoper and the next year sang Carmen in Vienna
Blessed with a rich, dark timbre, whose metal adds a keen edge to many of her recordings, Giannini was sometimes afflicted by vocal unsteadiness that marred otherwise exciting interpretations, but she invariably displayed a fine dramatic temperament and her committed characterisations had real ‘face’ and personality. In retirement she became a voice teacher and died in Zürich in 1986. Giannini made her first records for Victor in 1924 and her last in 1934. During that period more than fifty sides were issued, including operatic arias, Lieder, Italian songs and ballads.”
“Identified as Arturo Toscanini's favorite tenor, Aureliano Pertile was both a paradox and a paradigm. Both lauded and excoriated, he was more deserving of praise than censure. His voice, a strong, spinto-weight instrument, could sound growly and suffocated in the lower regions, but the top register was thrilling. His intensity on-stage led some to accuse him of overacting both histrionically and vocally, but his recordings reveal a very present nobility of spirit. Moreover, his attention to binding notes together into an unimpeachable legato placed him among the greats. His recordings of IL TROVATORE and AÏDA, available in excellent remasterings, show him in both lyric and heroic modes and are indispensable. His arias from ANDREA CHENIER, especially ‘Un di all'azzurro spazio’, are mooted by modern-day conductors such as Riccardo Muti as models of superior singing.
After studies in Padua and Milan, Pertile made his 1911 début at Vincenzo as Lionel in MARTHA. Other appearances in Italy and South America followed before his début at La Scala as Paolo in 1916. Unfortunate in the timing of his 1 December, 1921, Metropolitan Opera début, Pertile sang Cavaradossi to the Tosca of another debutante, Maria Jeritza. Jeritza was a sensation and the tenor was all but ignored. After Toscanini's return to La Scala in 1920, however, Pertile enjoyed a 15-year reign as leading tenor there from 1922 to 1937. His colleagues spoke of a man with little personality offstage, but a veritable lion before the public. From 1927 to 1931, Pertile frequently appeared at Covent Garden. Initially, he was recognized for a voice ‘naturally malleable and powerful, but used with considerable discretion’ by Ernest Newman. As both Radames and Manrico, Pertile was enthusiastically received for his fervor and vocal quality. In later seasons, some negative comments intruded about him being too Italianate in style, although his performances with Rosa Ponselle in his last London season (FORZA) were well reviewed. During his La Scala years, Pertile created two Nerones, those of Boito (1924) and Mascagni (1935), and also sang the premiere of Wolf-Ferrari's SLY in 1927. He sang in Buenos Aires between 1923 and 1929. After his retirement in 1946, Pertile taught at the Conservatory in Milan.
Irene Minghini-Cattaneo is certainly to be counted among the most appreciated Italian mezzo sopranos. Hers is a vibrant voice of an arresting sound after the ‘modern Italian fashion’, with amazing extension at both ends of the range (chest register!). Her legato line is frequently disturbed by quite a strong vibrato. Compared to two of the most prominent Italian mezzos, Gabriella Besanzoni and Cloe Elmo, she is neither a singer of great subtlety nor a much convincing exponent of florid singing (Bellini, Donizetti). However, the power of the voice and her dramatic instincts and passionate singing can be truly breathtaking, above all, in Verdi and veristic operas. She participated in two landmark recordings, in AÏDA and in IL TROVATORE in which, at least to me, she is the outstanding artist of each.”
- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile
“Giovanni Inghilleri trained as a pianist and worked initially as a répétiteur in several Italian opera houses. His own vocal training took place at the Rome Conservatory and also with the distinguished baritone Mario Sammarco. Having made his operatic stage début as Valentin at the Teatro Carcano in Milan during 1919, Inghilleri subsequently sang at a number of regional Italian opera houses, including the Carlo Felice, Genoa, la Fenice, Venice and the Comunale, Florence. At the Teatro Massimo, Palermo, he created the role of Tebaldo in the first performance of Zandonai’s GIULIETTA E ROMEO in 1922 with great success; he was to become a significant interpreter of operas by the verismo composers, notably Mascagni and Puccini as well as Zandonai. The following year he took part in the first performance of MORENITA by Mario Persico at the San Carlo, Naples, where he would sing regularly until 1948.
At the Royal Opera House, London, Inghilleri’s début came in 1928 as Tonio, followed by return engagements in 1929, 1930 and 1935. His London repertoire was extensive and included Gérard /, Iago, Amonasro, Marcello, Scarpia, Barnaba and Manfredo in Montemezzi’s L’AMORE DEI TRE RE. He was especially successful as Germont père in LA TRAVIATA, singing opposite Ponselle and Gigli in 1931, when he was praised for his ‘steadiness of tone, flawless phrasing and ease of manner’. Inghilleri sang in Chicago during 1929 and 1930, and also appeared with success in France and Spain.
During the 1930s Inghilleri took part in a number of Italian premieres including Casella’s LA DONNA SERPENTE (Rome, 1932), Malipiero’s GIULIO CESARE (Genoa, 1936), Alberto Ghislanzoni’s RE LEAR (Rome, 1937) and Cottozzo’s I MISTERI DOLOROSI (1937). He made his début at La Scala in 1941 and enjoyed considerable success there, singing Gérard in the 1946 celebrations of the fiftieth anniversary of the first performance of ANDREA CHÉNIER under the baton of the composer Giordano himself.
After World War II Inghilleri sang Verdi’s Falstaff at the Theatre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, gave concerts in England during 1948, continued to sing at La Scala until 1949, and in 1952 appeared at the Maggio Musicale in Florence and at the Verona Arena. Later roles included the Wanderer (SIEGFRIED), Shaklovity (KHOVANSHCHINA) and Michele (IL TABARRO). Having retired in 1953, he taught in Milan and became a professor at the Pesaro Conservatory in 1956. He was also active as a composer, writing an opera, LA BURLA, a ballet and songs.
Inghilleri possessed a fine, if not first-class, voice, which he used with authority and musicianship, reflecting his training as a pianist. His portrayals were highly imaginative and his diction exemplary, resulting in performances that gripped. His vocal longevity is clearly demonstrated by his complete opera recordings, made as far apart as 1928 (AÏDA with Sabajno for HMV) and the early 1950s (LA BOHÈME and MADAMA BUTTERFLY with Erede for Decca)."
- David Patmore
“In 1904 Sabajno was engaged by Fred Gaisberg as The Gramophone Company’s Italian house conductor (an appointment which was in effect the equivalent of the ‘Artists and Repertoire’ manager of later years) with responsibility for all aspects of production, such as the selection of repertoire and the engagement of artists, in addition to actually conducting in the studio: in France the conductor Piero Coppola held a similar position. Sabajno devoted himself to the nascent recording industry and seems subsequently to have conducted little if at all in the concert hall or opera house. He did however compose a little, writing songs especially for the gramophone.
For The Gramophone Company Sabajno conducted numerous complete recordings of operas, starting with Verdi’s ERNANI in 1904 and Leoncavallo’s PAGLIACCI in 1907 (although the latter may in fact have been conducted by its composer) and concluding with Verdi’s OTELLO in 1932. He recorded RIGOLETTO twice, in 1917 and 1927, and also left notable accounts of Donizetti’s DON PASQUALE with Tito Schipa, and of Verdi’s AÏDA with Toscanini’s favourite tenor Aureliano Pertile. He was also credited with conducting the complete recording of IL TROVATORE with Pertile, (although much of this was actually conducted by Gino Nastrucci). In addition to these and many other complete opera recordings Sabajno accompanied the leading singers of the day, such as Beniamino Gigli, in numerous operatic arias, and conducted several short operatic and orchestral works. The latter included several overtures and orchestral excerpts from Wagner’s operas, including the Liebestod from TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, as well as the prelude to Catalani’s opera EDMEA, Chabrier’s ‘España’, Mascagni’s ‘Danza esotica’, the overture to Massenet’s LE ROI DE LAHORE, the Nocturne and Wedding March from Mendelssohn’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, and the overture to Mozart’s DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE.
Evidently not an easy man to get on with, Sabajno had a reputation for a fiery temper; but Gaisberg, who knew him well, described him as ‘…gifted with sharp intelligence, and when one worked with him one understood that every single gesture had a reason’. Certainly several of his recordings, most of which were made with the Orchestra of La Scala, Milan at a time when Toscanini was musical director there, have stood the test of time. Gaisberg considered Sabajno’s account of AÏDA to be the pinnacle of his recording work, and it continues to feature in the catalogue.”
- David Patmore, Naxos' A–Z of Conductors