V0040. SUZANNE DANCO, w.Guido Agosti (Pf.): Songs by Debussy & Fauré (the latter’s La bonne Chanson). (Austria) Testament SBT 1289, recorded 1950-54. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 749677128920
“The Belgian soprano Suzanne Danco was the epitome of the well-schooled, clear voiced soprano in the French tradition. She sang her wide repertory with impeccable taste, an unerring sense of the requisite style for the music, and was especially admired for her Mozart, which she sang internationally in the 1950s, her readings both thoughtful and well-groomed.
Danco was Flemish, born and brought up in Brussels. Although her family discouraged her from a career as a musician, she was helped to become a singer at the Brussels Music Academy by the Queen of the Belgians. On the advice of the eminent conductor Erich Kleiber, she went to Prague to study with the famous teacher Fernando Carpi, before making her stage début in Italy in 1941 at the Genoa Opera, as Fiordiligi in COSI FAN TUTTI, a role that was a favourite with her and with audiences.
After the second world war, she appeared at La Scala as Jocasta in Stravinsky's OEDIPUS REX and Ellen Orford in Britten's PETER GRIMES (first performances in Italy of both operas), and at the San Carlo, Naples she sang Marie in the first Italian performance of Berg's WOZZECK. These roles demonstrated her eclectic taste. She once remarked that she didn't mind what she sang and enjoyed tackling all kinds of music.
Danco's first stage appearance in Britain was at Glyndebourne in 1951, where she was Donna Elvira, a role fitted to her talents, in DON GIOVANNI. That year she made her only appearance at Covent Garden, as Mimi in LA BOHÈME. Danco was prominent in the early years of the Aix-en-Provence Festival in her Mozart roles, encouraged by the festival's presiding conductor, Hans Rosbaud, who always chose his casts with discernment.
The Swiss conductor, Ernest Ansermet, was also taken with her talents, and thought her ideal for the French repertory he had just begun recording for Decca with his Suisse Romande Orchestra; she took part in many classic performances on disc with him in the 1950s, including the much admired earlier (and better) of Ansermet's two sets of Debussy's PELLÈAS ET MÉLISANDE. Danco's Mélisande strikes just the right balance between knowingness and innocence, a paradox at the heart of that equivocal role. Another recording triumph with Ansermet was as the sexy, scheming Concepcion in L'HEURE ESPAGNOLE and as the Princess in L'ENFANT ET LES SORTILÈGES, on a Ravel double-bill.
She caught to perfection the etheral tone of the soprano solo in Fauré's REQUIEM; produced a feted recording of Ravel's SHÉHÉRAZADE; and in Berlioz's LES NUITS D'ÉTÉ, her slightly cool, subtly inflected reading, notable for the intelligent treatment of the text, has stood the test of time.
She gave a distinguished account on disc of Schumann's LIEDERKREIS and of songs by Mozart, Schubert and Brahms, all still worth looking for. Even more memorable are her idiomatic readings of the mélodies of Fauré and Debussy. Of her concert roles, her Marguerite in Charles Munch's fine recording of Berlioz's LA DAMNATION DE FAUST is a worthy souvenir. She catches the ache of the betrayed heroine's romance.
From 1960, Danco's operatic appearances were few and far between, but she continued her concert career until her final appearance, in Mahler's Fourth Symphony in 1970. After her retirement she first taught at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, and latterly was a frequent visitor to the Britten-Pears School at Snape, where she dispensed good advice in a strict but kind manner. Her joint courses with the Swiss tenor Hugues Cuénod were entertaining events and wonderful examples of the impeccable style of which both singers had been such important advocates.
She named her villa at Fieseole ‘Amarilli’, probably to recall her 1949 recording of Caccini's song of that name. It caused a sensation among connoisseurs of fine singing and has seldom, if ever, been surpassed.”
- Alan Blyth, THE GUARDIAN, 3 Sept., 2000