V2592. VICTOR MAUREL: Complete Recordings: 1903, Paris; 1904, Milano; 1907, London, incl. Songs by Gounod, de Lara, Massenet, d’Erlanger, Paladilhe, d’Hardelot, Hahn & Tosti; Arias from Don Giovanni, Iphigénie en Tauride, Falstaff & Otello (the latter two Creator Recordings). (France) Malibran AMR 175, recorded 1903-07.
“…[the ‘Quand’ero paggio’] is arguably Maurel’s most famous recording….He sings three verses, the first two in Italian; the last in French, yet each time varying his tonal quality, and with a lightness of touch and infinitely varying nuance. The over-effusive studio audience [with studio applause] further enhances the charm of the recording….The whole aria is rendered with a verve that almost allows you to ‘see’ his facial expression….Maurel is truly respectful of Tosti’s intentions and he sings con amore with his typical elegance of manner and beautifully enunciated text….It is the work of a masterful artist….One can imagine he would have sung the [Don Giovanni] aria with a melting mezza voce in his prime that would have been bewitching. He is frequently at odds with the pianist but it hardly matters and just adds charm to the recording….It was Verdi who chose Maurel to create Iago and Falstaff, despite the availability of many great Italian baritones. [Maurel] was indeed a unique genius and master of his art. Obviously, Verdi wanted his first Iago to be a master of nuance and vocal colour. He chose well with Maurel….it is a worthy memento of the creator.”
- Alfred de Cock, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2013
“It was after returning to La Scala, Milan in 1882, and singing the title-role in the first performance of the revised edition of SIMON BOCCANEGRA, that [Maurel] began an association with Verdi that led to his creation of Iago in OTELLO in 1887, and six years afterwards, the title-role in FALSTAFF. He went on to sing both roles throughout the opera world, in Paris, St. Petersburg, Vienna, London and New York, always to great acclaim. In 1892 Maurel created Tonio in PAGLIACCI at the dal Verme, Milan. It was at Maurel’s suggestion that Leoncavallo composed the Prologue, and Tonio originally had the last words: ‘la commedia è finita,’ a practice which continued as long as Maurel sang the role. In 1894 he made his Met bow as Iago, following it two months later with Falstaff. Notwithstanding his great successes as Iago and Falstaff, in the ‘90s, and approaching fifty, he continued to undertake other roles. At the Met he sang Don Giovanni [an interpretation rated ‘the perfection of vocal art,’ with critical references to ‘the inimitable manner in which he sang the Serenade, a performance of marvelous lightness and grace’].
After a dinner in 1906, Maurel sang the ‘Credo’ from OTELLO, bits of FALSTAFF and Don Giovanni’s Serenade. Albert Spalding wrote that ‘his voice... had gone threadbare, but the majesty of an undying art was still there. He couldn’t possibly have sung a real forte. He had to suggest it, but how he suggested it! After all these years it is Maurel’s portrayal of the naked villainy of Iago, the sophistical and Rabelaisian philosophy of Falstaff, the elegant and unscrupulous licentiousness of [Don Giovanni] that I recall each time that I hear this music’. Fortunately we get a good idea of the effect he worked when we listen to those recordings he made at almost exactly the same time. He made his final stage appearance in Paris in 1909 alongside some pupils in Grétry’s LE TABLEAU PARLANT, a performance conducted by the then thirty-year old Thomas Beecham.”
- Michael Scott, Marston Program Notes