OP2909. DIE WALKÜRE- Act I, Live Performance, 21 July, 1956, Tanglewood, w.Münch Cond. Boston Symphony Orch.; Margaret Harshaw, Albert da Costa & James Pease. (Italy) Memories 2292. Long out-of-print, final remaining copies! - 8249194022920
“It is in this repertoire that da Costa excels. The voice is robust, fresh, full of confidence, with strength to spare….da Costa has a cleaner sound, good musicianship, and a generally good grasp of the dramatics.”
- Charles H. Parsons, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Sept./Oct., 2011
“Without question, da Costa’s is a major voice with briliant top notes, deserving to be much beter-known to today’s music lovers. His electrifying high D in Bellini's I PURITANI ‘Credensi misera’ is outstanding. A heroic tenor with amazing breath control, capable of singing a great variety of favorite opera arias, interpreting each one with authority and taste. There are today three or four tenors with high quality voices, but most likely none of them could match Albert da Costa for his great versatility and to be able to sing them consistently on such a high artistic level. The arias from Meyerbeer's operas and Halévy’s LA JUIVE, as well as the Wagnerian arias, displaying his potential to be a great performer in all these operas, had da Costa lived longer. The rest of his repertory is very well-known and sung very beautifully.”
- Peter Dietrich
“Margaret Harshaw, an American soprano and mezzo-soprano who was best known as a Wagnerian singer but whose performances in Mozart and Verdi operas were also highly regarded, sang at the Metropolitan Opera for 22 seasons, from November 1942, when she made her debut as the Second Norn in DIE GOTTERDAMMERUNG until March 1964, when she gave her final performance as Ortud in LOHENGRIN. Because she spent the first nine years of her Met career as a mezzo-soprano and then switched to soprano roles, she sang more Wagner roles than any other singer in the Met's history. These include 14 roles in the RING operas, in which she began as a Rhinemaiden and eventually sang all three Brunnhildes, as well as both Senta and Mary (in the same season) in DIE FLIEGENDE HOLLANDER, Isolde in TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, Magdalene in DIE MEISTERSINGER, Kundry in PARSIFAL and Elisabeth and Venus in TANNHAUSER.
A series of competition victories in the early 1930s led to performances in Philadelphia, Washington and New York, all before she enrolled at the Juilliard Graduate School to begin her formal studies with Anna Schoen-Rene in 1936. In March 1942, Miss Harshaw won the Metropolitan Opera's Auditions of the Air, and she began her career at the house at the start of the next season. In 1950 Rudolf Bing, the Met's general manager, was looking for a dramatic soprano to succeed Helen Traubel, particularly in Wagner roles, and persuaded Ms. Harshaw to switch to the higher range. She did so with notable success: her recordings as a soprano show her to have a clear timbre and considerable power. All told, she sang 375 performances of 39 roles in 25 works at the house and was heard in 40 of the Met's weekly live broadcasts.
Ms. Harshaw also sang at Covent Garden, Glyndebourne, the San Francisco Opera, the Paris Opera and with companies in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, New Orleans, San Antonio, Pittsburgh and Houston. She also made several Latin American tours and was a soloist with many of the major American orchestras.
In 1962, Miss Harshaw became a professor of voice at Indiana University, where she taught until 1993.”
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 11 Nov., 1997
“James Pease was an American bass-baritone, notable for his Wagnerian roles but also a very distinguished Balstrode in Benjamin Britten’s PETER GRIMES, a role he recorded under the composer’s direction in 1958. A law graduate of Indiana University in 1939, he won a scholarship at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia and studied there rather than begin practice as a lawyer. He made his début with the Philadelphia Opera Company as Mephistophélès in FAUST, and sang many other roles with the company in Philadelphia and Boston. He also pursued concert, oratorio and radio work on the East Coast of the United States. He was praised by Serge Koussevitzky as having ‘An exceptionally beautiful, powerful, expansive voice’.
In 1943 he was selected a winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air, but was immediately called for service as an aviation cadet. He served three years as a pilot in the A.A.F. Training Command, flying some 15,000 miles. He also directed and performed in musical shows at his home base in Texas. On his discharge in 1945, he appeared at the Montréal Festivals and in a series of operas at the New York City Center Theatre, making his début there as Sparafucile on 9 May 1946 (continuing to sing at that venue until 1953). That year he also sang in CARMEN at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, conducted by Leopold Stokowski. He was also a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. and at the Berkshire Festival. He sang a wide variety of roles including Leporello and the title role in DON GIOVANNI, Don Alfonso (COSÌ FAN TUTTE), the Music Master (ARIADNE AUF NAXOS), Colline (LA BOHÈME), Escamillo (CARMEN) and various Gilbert and Sullivan roles including the Pirate King and the Mikado of Japan.
He sang in London's Royal Opera House in various productions conducted by Rafael Kubelík, including as Hans Sachs in Wagner's DIE MEISTERSINGER with Geraint Evans and Joan Sutherland in 1957, as King Mark in TRISTAN UND ISOLDE with Birgit Nilsson in 1958, and in the same year as Balstrode in PETER GRIMES, later recording the role under the composer’s direction for Decca. He returned to the New York City Opera in 1959-60, and again in 1967.”
- Ned Ludd