OP2968. PAGLIACCI, Live Performance, 10 March, 1934, w.Bellezza Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Giovanni Martinelli, Lawrence Tibbett, Queena Mario, Alfio Tedesco, George Cehanovsky, etc.; PAGLIACCI - Final Scene, Chicago Opera; Martinelli, Jepson; IL TROVATORE, Excerpts (includes Act III, scene 2 and Act IV, scene 2 complete), w. Martinelli, Elisabeth Rethberg, Richard Bonelli & Kathryn Meisle; Interview with Martinelli & Licia Albanese. (Canada) 2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1047. Restoration and Transfers by Richard Caniell. Notes by London Green. - 748252292940
“What we have here is miraculous. . . .Caniell has cleaned up the material superbly — fixing pitch inconsistencies, bringing out real color from the voices, and reversing serious dynamic compression.
There is another Martinelli PAGLIACCI, from 1936, but with Bonelli instead of Tibbett, and yet another from 1941 with Tibbett. But Martinelli surpasses himself here in 1934; this is the one to hear. . .the sound has plenty of ring, and he knew the style as almost no one else did. His sense of how to shape the music was innate and deeply held within him, and his willingness to give everything he had in performance made his appearances real events. . ..This is a truly great performance, one that merits the over-used word ‘unique’. . .I found myself swept up from his entrance to the opera’s conclusion.
Tibbett is the other major asset of this performance. His is a richly sung and highly dramatic Tonio. Not only the Prologue, but the duet with Nedda is a true highlight.
This is a performance of rare dramatic fire and with musical thrills galore, lovingly and brilliantly restored. If you care at all about PAGLIACCI and/or the verismo operatic tradition, you must know this performance, and only in this transfer.
The other PAGLIACCI excerpts are valuable (the restoration of the 1927 Vitaphone recording shows us the younger Martinelli and reproduces the voice with remarkable color). . .The TROVATORE excerpts (one scene is not from the Met but from a 1927 Vitaphone recording) are further illustration of Martinelli’s skill, and his ability to sing lyrically when the music requires. Rethberg and Bonelli are excellent. . .the restoration is as good as it gets. The 18-minute interview with Martinelli and Albanese… is a wonderful additional bonus. As usual, the notes and photos that accompany the discs are all one could ask for.”
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE, Nov./Dec., 2014
“Buy this new IP set for an unbeatable performance of PAGLIACCI. It is 80 years old and the sound is hardly new, but impressive work has been done to bring it up to listenable form and of course, it is pitched correctly….This is a two-disk set from IP and their usual production values are here, a splendid booklet and plentiful extras.”
- David Cutler, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2014
"The recitative before 'Vesti la giubba' is nobly set forth....The aria itself is taken at the slowest possible pace, but Martinelli is more than equal to sustaining the tension of the line throughout. Each note seems dragged out from his anguished heart, yet the line never sags. His breath control is remarkable: he achieves an incredible crescendo on the climactic 'Ah! Ridi, Pagliaccio', and, like a man possessed, he keeps returning to the high As - all without any vocal strain....a searing experience....Martinelli's greatest merit is his absolute control over the the tensile strength of the musical line...."
- Paul Jackson, SATURDAY AFTERNOONS AT THE OLD MET, pp.62-63
"For Giovanni Martinelli and Lawrence Tibbett, the 1934 PAGLIACCI matinee broadcast was an occasion at least the equal of their legendary OTELLO. They’re more than ably seconded by Queena Mario’s bright, girlish Nedda…and the eager Silvio of George Cehanovsky….Tibbett deports himself with the space and majesty of a great Shakespearean actor in a Prologue which encompasses both off-the-voice parlando and fearless attack on the unwritten…high notes…. Martinelli’s dark Canio has little clown left in him; he’s shot and half-crazed by Nedda’s infidelity from his first words."
- Mike Ashman, GRAMOPHONE, March, 2008
“…it is the stage that crackles – with energy. The charge runs through the orchestra and chorus. And never mind about the recording being old: it is uncommonly vivid….At the centre are two towering individual performances – Martinelli’s Canio and Lawrence Tibbett’s Tonio. Tibbett combines the gusto of old-time theatre with some rare refinements of the vocal art, and he is in magnificent voice. Martinelli sings as in a slowly consuming fire, his arioso a nobly sustained utterance in which Leoncavallo’s music realises most completely its capacity for tragic intensity. Nor should Queena Mario’s Nedda pass as over-shadowed: She too makes the part live dramatically, and her light, pure voice is skillfully used, in a way worthy of her teacher, the great Marcella Sembrich.”
- John Steane, GRAMOPHONE, Aug., 2008
"Bonelli's masterful voicing of the Prologue makes one wonder who is the premier Italian baritone of the era - he combines all the fat, rolling tone of Thomas and the point and dramatic flavor of Tibbett. Bonelli owns a voice of ravishing, darkly sensuous color, full and even throughout the entire range, with menacing bite at the bottom and absolute freedom at the top....Memories of the golden age of Italian baritones surface - Amato, even a touch of Ruffo potency - though Bonelli never pushes beyond the zones of musical taste."
- Paul Jackson, SATURDAY AFTERNOONS AT THE OLD MET, p.111
“Lawrence Tibbett, to my taste the greatest operatic baritone America has ever produced. His enormous charm is complemented by fabulous diction - he's one of the very few ‘classical’ singers whose every word is clearly understandable.”
- Jeffrey Lipscomb