V2575. GIUSEPPE CAMPANARI: Songs by Seppilli, Tirindelli, Gastaldon, Rotoli & Rossini; Arias from Nozze, Barbiere, Faust, Carmen, L'Africaine, Hérodiade, Pagliacci, La Gioconda, La Traviata & Il Trovatore. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-728, recorded 1903-09. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“If we are not as familiar with the Italian baritone Giuseppe Campanari as his talent would merit, it may well be because of the competition. Here is a list of some of the operatic baritones with whom his career overlapped, along with their birth and death dates.
Giuseppe Campanari (1855–-1927)
Victor Maurel (1848–1923)
Mattia Battistini (1856–1928)
Antonio Scotti (1856–1936)
Giuseppe Kaschmann (1850–1928)
Mario Ancona (1860–1931)
Titta Ruffo (1877–1953)
Giuseppe de Luca (1876–1950)
Riccardo Stracciari (1875–1955)
This is why historical vocal aficionados refer to a ‘golden age!’
Campanari was important enough to appear in 496 performances at the Metropolitan Opera between 1894 and 1912. What we hear on this disc first of all are the virtues of impeccable musicianship, which should not be a surprise, because Campanari was also an accomplished cellist. Astonishingly, he was good enough to be principal cellist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a professor of cello at the New England Conservatory of Music; he resigned both of those positions to devote himself to singing. The surviving reviews of his Met career are almost uniformly positive, in a very wide range of repertoire from Mozart to Verdi.
The voice was a lyric baritone, without the overpowering vocal heft of Amato and Ruffo, but Campanari sang with a strong personality and imagination. The recordings in this collection date from 1903–1909, so they have the limitations associated with acoustic records. St. Laurent Studio has done its usual immaculate job of restoration, and the listener will get a strong picture of the singer and his voice. In a brief mention given to Campanari in John Steane’s valuable THE GRAND TRADITION, he refers to the singer’s fluidity in rapid passagework, as in ‘Largo al factotum’ from THE BARBER OF SEVILLE. We are given five different recordings of the aria here, two with piano and three with orchestra. Each one is a delight, each one has its own individual flair.
Camparnari’s elegant singing of the French arias, particularly those from FAUST and HÉRODIADE, show a full understanding of the forward placement and even legato that serves that music so well. (It should be noted that he sings the French pieces in Italian). He appeared often at the Met in the title role in THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, and Figaro’s two Act I arias demonstrate the singer’s firm rhythmic pulse and a stylish approach to the music that was not always the case in the early 20th century.
When he performed as Tonio in PAGLIACCI in New York with Hinrichs Opera Company in 1893, Campanari became the first singer to perform the role in America. He also sang the first Marcello and Papageno at the Met. His 1909 recording of the PAGLIACCI Prologue exhibits genuine authority. He pays attention to the words and articulates them with meaning. (The music had to be abridged to fit on one 78 side).
Whether in the operatic arias or the Italian songs, Campanari’s singing exhibits the virtues of steady tone, clear diction, warmth, and dramatic presence. These qualities are apparent in the first track, Stanislao Gastaldon’s ever-popular ‘Musica proibita’. As was the norm in this era, Campanari employs a rapid and noticeable vibrato, but it is never distracting, and he uses it for expressive purposes. There is a natural flow to his phrasing, a deeply felt musical sensitivity that draws the listener in. He also displays the appropriate degree of flair and personality.
St. Laurent Studio gives full documentation of original sources and recording dates, and as usual no texts, but this is material with which most vocal collectors will be familiar. St. Laurent Studio recordings are available at Norbeck, Peters & Ford (www.norpete.com)
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE
“Giuseppe Campanari was an Italian-born operatic baritone and cellist who later became an American citizen.
Giuseppe Campanari was born in Venice in 1855 and was hailed as a cello virtuoso by the age of nine. He toured Europe with his brother Leandro, giving concerts in the larger European cities. At the age of seventeen he was appointed first solo cellist at La Scala in Milan under conductor Alberto Mazzucato. During his career as a cellist, he appeared frequently in chamber music concerts with leading artistes such as Joachim, Wieniawski and Saint-Saëns. At the same time, vocal art attracted him greatly and he studied voice on the side. His first attempt as an opera singer was in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan in 1880. After singing in the leading Italian cities, he went to Spain. In addition, he appeared at most of the major opera houses in Europe, including several seasons spent at the Royal Opera in London's Covent Garden, and participated in concert tours with the great sopranos Nordica, Sembrich, Melba and Eames.
Campanari was invited to the United States by the management of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and arrived in 1884, again taking the position of first solo cellist under conductor Wilhelm Gericke. In 1888 he became one of the original members of the Adamowski String Quartet which was led by violinist Timothee Adamowski.
He first sang Valentin in FAUST with the Emma Juch Opera Company when their baritone, Alonzo Stoddard, fell ill, but it was not mentioned in the papers so nothing became of it. He continued to play cello but didn't sing professionally for two years. Finally, after the prominent conductor Arthur Nikisch gave him an opening in Louisville, Kentucky, he started to receive more engagements.
Campanari made his official operatic debut as Tonio in PAGLIACCI with Hinrichs' Opera Company in New York City on 15 June 1893, being the first singer to perform the role in the United States.
His New York Metropolitan Opera debut came on 30 November 1894, when he sang the role of the Count di Luna in IL TROVATORE with Tamagno as Manrico. In 1895, he had his first notable success singing Ford in the first American production of FALSTAFF, with Victor Maurel in the title role. He also sang the Met's first Marcello in LA BOHÈME (1900) and their first Papageno in DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE (1902–1903) which was performed in Italian. Campanari remained with the Met until 1912. He gave more than 200 performances during his career there.
After his retirement from serious music, he briefly dabbled in vaudeville but found the two-show-a-day schedule too gruelling at his age. He then taught voice in New York and later in Milan where his daughter Marina achieved success as a soprano. He died in Milan in 1927 at the age of 71.
Campanari made a number of acoustic recordings prior to World War I. His first recording session was with the Columbia label in 1903. Despite the early date of his discs, they are remarkable for their clarity, and they display the warmth and agility of his fine, steady, well-trained voice to good effect.”
"Each of these disks, from Canadian engineer Yves St Laurent [feature] St Laurent's natural transfer - made without filtering, like all his dubbings - it is easy to listen to, despite the surface noise."
- Tully Potter, CLASSICAL RECORD QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011