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
“Margaret Harshaw (made her professional début in the dramatic mezzo-soprano rôle of Azucena in IL TROVATORE with The Philadelphia Operatic Society in 1934. She entered the graduate program at The Juilliard School in 1936, where she studied with Anna E. Schoen-René, who had been a student of Pauline Viardot-García and her brother Manuel García. It was at Juilliard where Harshaw, after singing the rôle of Dido in Purcell’s DIDO AND AEANEAS, met Walter Damrosch who prophesied: ‘My child, one day you will be Brünnhilde!’. She won the Metropolitan Opera’s ‘Auditions on the Air’ in 1942, and made her Met début as the second Norn in Wagner’s GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG. Gifted with an extended range, Harshaw sang many mezzo-soprano rôles for the next nine seasons before she entered soprano territory in 1951 when she sang the rôle of Senta in THE FLYING DUTCHMAN. By 1954 she had inherited the mantel of Kirsten Flagstad and Helen Traubel, and sang all the leading Wagnerian soprano rôles, including Isolde, Brünnhilde, Elisabeth, Kundry and Sieglinde. Harshaw retired in 1964 from the Metropolitan Opera after having sung 375 performances of 38 rôles in 25 works over 22 consecutive seasons. She then became a professor of voice at Indiana University in 1962, where she taught until 1993. She also taught at the Curtis Institute of Music and Westminster Choir College. Among her many students are Benita Valente, Vinson Cole, Matthew Polenzani, etc."
- Daniel James Shigo
“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
“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.”
- Loyal Bluto