V0077. THREE AMERICAN SOPRANOS: LILLIAN NORDICA, OLIVE FREMSTAD & ADA ADINI. 2-Marston 52027. Transfers by Ward Marston. Very Long out-of-print, Final Copy! [original release (not a CDR re-release) this two-disc set with 39-page English-language booklet has a new jewel case, booklet and cover art in excellent condition; discs are mint.] - 638335202723
“Nothing came easily for each of these three American sopranos. Neither Lillian Nordica (1857-1914) nor Olive Fremstad (1871-1951) rose like meteors, although they are without question two of the greatest American singers. And though little known in this country, Ada Adini (1855-1924) slowly built a brilliant career in Europe. While each was best known as a dramatic soprano, their voices were dissimilar. Nordica and Fremstad began at different ends of the spectrum: the former as a bright-voiced band singer and the latter as a church contralto. The legendary Nordica upper register almost destroys the Columbia Phonograph Company's primitive recording equipment. She is the mythic grand-opera diva, setting herself for the attack and then making those unbelievably huge, penetrating high notes explode out into space. I wouldn't advise using headphones. Yet Nordica remains one of the finest bel canto sopranos on record - her ornaments are like bright jewels illuminating the vocal line. In contrast, Fremstad's warm, velvety tones are more inviting. For all its power, her singing has a beauty and an inwardness that pull the listener toward her. The inclusion of Adini in this anthology is an interesting choice, and at least on recordings she manages to hold her own with her more illustrious colleagues. Her elegant singing style and vibrant voice color several individualistic performances.
Nordica, Fremstad, and Adini all came of age amidst the fanaticism that resulted from the production of Wagnerian opera throughout the world during the last decades of the nineteenth century. Every soprano of that time—even Melba, Eames, and Calvé—invariably spoke of Isolde as their cherished goal. Emma Albani actually assumed the role in the last years of her career. Eames went as far as Sieglinde, and Melba had one disastrous try at the Siegfried Brünnhilde. Calvé, of course, wisely stayed with Carmen. While Nordica was originally a high soprano singing Lucia, Violetta, and Gilda, she sang Aida early on and even an occasional Carmen. As her records show, she always had a brilliant soprano with a clarion upper register, but her endurance and solid technique provided the necessary foundation for her later success in the monumental Wagnerian parts. After studies with Lilli Lehmann, Fremstad began as a contralto in Cologne, making appearances at Bayreuth during her stay there. A further stint in Munich preceded her triumphs as a Wagnerian soprano at the Metropolitan Opera. Adini also was an active Wagnerian, creating the WALKÜRE Brünnhilde at La Scala in 1893 and later singing the role elsewhere in Italy and at Covent Garden. She also performed Isolde in Bologna during that time period.”
- Harold Bruder, THE OPERA QUARTERLY, Autumn 2003, Vol. 19, #4
“On nearly all counts, this two-disc set was well worth the wait. Not only does it include almost the entire recorded output of these three important sopranos, but it possibly offers the best transfers we are likely to hear from some of the more recalcitrant of these 78rpm records. This is a splendidly produced, important set – an essential library addition for everyone seriously interested in historic voices.”
- Vivian A. Liff, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Sept./Oct., 2003