V2200. TOTI DAL MONTE: A Tribute, incl. Songs in Italian & English by Bishop, Benedict, Bianchini, Bonagura, Ponce, de Lorenzi Fabris, Sadero, Filippi, Brogi, Williams & William Garnet James; Arias from Don Giovanni, Nozze, Barbiere, Norma, Guglielmo Tell, Lucia, La Sonnambula, La Figlia del Reggimento, Linda di Chamounix, Lodoletta, Rigoletto, La Traviata, Falstaff, I Pescatori di Perle, Mignon & Madama Butterfly; w.TITO SCHIPA: Don Pasquale – Tornami a dir che mami. (E.U.) 4-Newton Classics 8802170, recorded 1924-41. - 8718247711703
“The Venetian born dal Monte was generally categorised as a coloratura soprano and a worthy successor to such light-weight canaries as Patti, Tetrazzini and Galli-Curci. She studied with the famous Barbara Marchisio and made a much praised debut at La Scala in 1916 before going on to a highly successful international career which lasted into the late 1940s.
She was recorded extensively by HMV between 1924 and 1941, and these discs represent a fair cross section of her operatic repertoire which was mainly of works calling for a light lyric voice with an adequate florid technique. It was therefore a genuine surprise when the EMI set of MADAMA BUTTERFLY appeared in the early 40s with her as protagonist alongside Beniamino Gigli. The set aroused much controversy. For many, including this writer, she presented the ideal protagonist sounding a believable 15 year old at her initial appearance and subtly colouring and darkening the voice until the opera's tragic dénouement, which apparently left many in the studio genuinely moved by its power and sincerity. In fairness it must be mentioned that other commentators, whilst admiring this sincerity and her total immersion in the role, were less tolerant of the penetrating higher register and the slight scoops that occasionally attended ascents above the stave. Four excerpts from the complete recording are included here but to appreciate its real stature, the entire assumption should be heard.
Excerpts from her 'lighter' repertoire are very much in the pre-Callas mould, but the lady has great charm with much to offer beside vocal fireworks - which, in fact, were never her greatest forte. As might be expected she brings a highly individual touch to characters such as Mozart's Susanna, Rossini's Rosina, Bellini's Amina and Norma, Donizetti's Lucia, Marie, Linda and Norina, Verdi's Gilda and Nanetta, Thomas' Philine and Bizet's Leila. Not a dull item amongst these and many outstanding interpretations including duets with Luigi Montesanto, Tito Schipa and Augusto Beuf. A particular delight is a late recording of an aria from Mascagni's LODOLETTA which Mafalda Favero also recorded superbly around the same time. Both versions are cherishable with the older singer demonstrating, even towards the end of her career, an ability to don successfully the verismo mantel.
The final CD, devoted to song, is almost unmitigated pleasure. Several of these recordings were unpublished and others extremely difficult to find. At a Westminster Hall recital in the 40s, it can be reported that the lady was an absolute delight and had us all totally captivated. The brightness and penetration of her higher register were not so apparent heard live. Many of these songs were included in her recitals. Several are by Venetian composers or in praise of her native city. Especially noteworthy is her interpretation of Sadero's remarkable 'Amuri, amuri'. When set alongside the stunning , decidedly tragic versions by Ponselle and Koshetz it is equally compelling in its own right.
This long overdue tribute offers an almost complete discography in reasonably good sound….the set is well worth acquisition, providing a worthy memento of an important and well loved singer.”
- Vivian A. Liff, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Jan./Feb., 2014
“Galli-Curci left the Chicago Opera, 4 January, 1924, after Giorgio Polacco, manger of the Company, refused to let her choose the operas in which she would sing. Her failure to dissuade Polacco did not deter her from threatening to leave the Metropolitan if Gatti-Casazza extended the contract of Italian coloratura Toti dal Monte, who sang rôles that Galli-Curci considered her own.”
- Richard W. Amero, balboaparkhistory.net
“Nicknamed ‘La Toti’ by her many admirers, Toti Dal Monte possessed a light coloratura voice whose delicate tone was often compared to the strains of a nightingale. She was thus cast in rôles of vulnerable heroines, best known for her Cio-Cio-San. She débuted at La Scala at the age of 23 (1916) in the challenging rôle of Biancafiore from the then-new opera FRANCESCA DA RIMINI by Riccardo Zandonai. She returned to La Scala in 1922 and made numerous appearances there over the next couple of decades singing a broad range of rôles. Her U.S. début took place in November, 1924, at the Chicago Civic Opera, and the following month she débuted to thundering applause at the Metropolitan Opera singing Lucia. Some might assert that her greatest legacy to opera came with her 1939 recording of MADAMA BUTTERFLY, featuring Beniamino Gigli as Pinkerton. Dal Monte's Cio-Cio-San is considered by many critics the finest ever, and the recording itself one of the greatest the work has received. Cio-cio-San is a much heavier part than Dal Monte would have undertaken normally, and her interpretation is notable for its youthful-sounding freshness, which fits with the character's age. In 1939 Dal Monte also appeared in her first film, CARNEVALE DI VENEZIA.”
- Robert Cummings, allmusic.com
“Toti was a scintillating person, and everything came alive onstage with her. Hers was a dark-colored kind of coloratura, and her technique was astounding.”
- Adelaide Saraceni, THE LAST PRIMA DONNAS, p.269