Classical CDs, LPs, 78s,
Related Books & Ephemera
Immortal Performances presents
their 2nd pair of legendary performances of
FALSTAFF, both with STABILE, 1941 & 1952 . . .
Yves St Laurent’s newest issues offer
JORGE BOLET, Vol. 15 & TENNSTEDT, Vol. 52 . . .
TERESA BERGANZA (1933 – 2022) remembered in
DON QUICHOTTE. . .
and the ‘sale’ titles continue . . .
FALSTAFF, Live Performance, 28 April, 1941, Rome, w. Serafin Cond. Rome Opera Ensemble; Mariano Stabile, Tito Gobbi, Ferruccio Tagliavini, Franca Somigli, Vittoria Polumbina, Cloe Elmo, Augusta Oltrabella, Cesare Masini-Sperti, Gino Conti & Adelio Zagonora; FALSTAFF, Live Performance, 7 June, 1952, w. de Sabata Cond. La Scala Ensemble; Mariano Stabile, Paolo Silveri, Cesare Valletti, Renata Tebaldi, Anna Maria Canali, Cloe Elmo, Rosanna Carteri, Giuseppe Nessi, Italo Tajo & Mariano Caruso; CLOE ELMO: Arias and Scenes from Adriana Lecouvreur, La Gioconda, (with Gina Cigna), Tristan und Isolde (in Italian) – recorded 1941-42; w.Charles Kullman; Merola Cond. San Francisco Opera Orch.: Il Trovatore – Two Excerpts, Broadcast Performance, 26 Sept., 1948, w. Broadcast Commentary; CESARE VALLETTI: Arias and Scenes from Il Matrimonio Segreto, Luisa Miller, Les Pecheurs de Perles; L’Amico Fritz (with Rosanna Carteri) & La Sonnambula (with Maria Callas) – recorded 1953-63. (Canada) 4-Immortal Performances IPCD 1156, w. Elaborate 54pp. Booklet, w.Notes by Dewey Faulkner & Richard Caniell. Audio restoration by Richard Caniell. [No Verdi specialist would wish to be without this treasure!] Specially priced at Four discs for the price of Three. (OP3441)
- Ken Meltzer, FANFARE, Nov. / Dec., 2021
“Immortal Performances pairs 1941 Rome and 1952 La Scala
, Milan renditions of Verdi’s final opera and comic masterpiece, FALSTAFF
. Both star the Italian baritone Mariano Stabile (1888-1968) in the title role. With the support and coaching of Arturo Toscanini, Stabile gave his first performance of Falstaff at the reopening of La Scala on December 26, 1921. In 1961, Stabile sang his final Sir John. All told, Stabile gave approximately 1,200 performances in the role. Stabile may have not possessed the most beautiful or powerful baritone voice. But he employed that voice with the utmost intelligence, creativity, and attentiveness to the music and drama. Time and again, Stabile found just the right vocal color and weight for Verdi’s music and Boito’s text, the latter always delivered with exemplary clarity. It is true that artists like Giuseppe Taddei and Geraint Evans demonstrated that a rich and powerful baritone can be a wonderful asset in performing Verdi’s FALSTAFF
. But it is also true, I think, that the role does not primarily require the kinds of gifts demanded by such Verdi baritone characters as Rigoletto, the Count di Luna, or Don Alvaro. A great Falstaff should, of course, sing the music securely, with attractive tone, and keen attention to the directives in Verdi’s score. But artists such as Stabile and Giuseppe Valdengo (who also studied the role under Toscanini) have shown us that more important than the basic vocal gifts is how the artist deploys them. This is unforgettably illustrated in a 1907 recording of Falstaff’s brief solo, ‘Quand’ero paggio’, made by the French baritone Victor Maurel, who created the title role in FALSTAFF’s 1893 La Scala premiere
. In the 1907 recording, Maurel, 58 years old and past his vocal prime, entertains an appreciative studio audience (and himself!) with a trio of performances of the music, each time varying his interpretation, and to most delicious effect. In that spirit, I’ll mention that no two of Stabile’s performances of FALSTAFF
sounded the same. To be sure, Stabile was always seeking ways to deepen and improve his interpretation. But I also think he was a singing actor who thrived upon the atmosphere of an individual performance. Regardless of any variations of approach, a unifying factor among Stabile’s renditions of Falstaff is that he always seemed to be having the time of his life. And that joy is, without fail, communicated to the audience. Stabile did not make a complete commercial recording of Verdi’s FALSTAFF
. Among those baritones who did, Giuseppe Taddei (Cetra, 1949, Mario Rossi, cond. [OP3421
]), Giuseppe Valdengo (RCA, 1950, Arturo Toscanini, cond. [OP0128]
), Tito Gobbi (EMI, Herbert von Karajan, Cond.), and Geraint Evans (Decca, Georg Solti, Cond.) [OP0475]
remain my favorites. But Stabile’s Falstaff is of at least comparable greatness and importance.
We are fortunate that several recorded documents of Stabile Falstaff performances have survived. In the March /April, 2018 issue of FANFARE (41:4)
, I reviewed IP’s restoration of an August 9, 1937 Salzburg Festival staging of FALSTAFF
, with Stabile in the title role, and Toscanini conducting (that release also includes the 1950 broadcast recording of the opera, again with Toscanini, and Valdengo, referred to above) [OP3294]
. The 1937 FALSTAFF
is a magnificent performance in every way, and IP has done a superb job of restoring the original Selenophone recording to a state in which the performance now may be enjoyed, and not just endured. That 5-disc IP set is a ‘must’ for all who love Verdi and FALSTAFF
. Which brings us to the pair of Stabile Falstaff performances included on the IP release that is the subject of this review. First is an April 28, 1941 Rome radio broadcast, conducted by Tullio Serafin. It, too, is a marvelous account of FALSTAFF
, and in sound that that is comparable to fine studio recordings of the era. It seems that with such priceless historic documents, there more often than not is a ‘catch’. In this case, it is that the surviving recording of the broadcast is missing several portions of the opera. And invariably, those portions are among the opera’s finest moments. These include the better part of Falstaff’s ‘Honor’ monologue in Act I, sc. 1., the introduction to the final scene of Act III (with most of Fenton’s solo, ‘Dal labbro il canto’), and the better part of the opera’s concluding measures, and its great fugue. In 2002, the Music and Arts label provided an admirable release of both the 1941 Rome and 1952 La Scala FALSTAFF
performances. Music and Arts left the omitted portions of the 1941 FALSTAFF
intact. IP has filled in the blanks with other source material featuring the same principal artists. As usual, IP has done a fine job of blending the new portions to the original. The added ‘Honor’ monologue is from a live performance, capped by applause. IP also includes applause for the conclusions of the remaining scenes, as well as brief announcer comments, neither of which appeared in the Music and Arts set [OP0168]
. In the 1941 Rome FALSTAFF
, Stabile is superb form, comparable to the 1937 Salzburg performance. And with the considerable improvement in sound, we are able to enjoy his singing and interpretation all the more. Chief interest among the remaining members of the cast will focus, I think, on the Ford of Tito Gobbi, and Fenton of Ferruccio Tagliavini. Gobbi was 27 at the time of the broadcast. His voice already possesses much of the characteristic Gobbi timbre, but here, it has beautiful, lyric quality not as evident in his later, more famous recordings. Even at this early stage, Gobbi was a first-rate singing actor. Gobbi’s Act II, sc. I encounter with Stabile’s Falstaff is a document of two performers ever attentive to the other. No doubt this was the product of intense rehearsal, but the result is a palpable and engaging spontaneity. Gobbi also rises to the occasion in the ensuing solo, ‘E sogno? O realta’, delivering the music and text with the utmost intensity and vocal splendor. Ferruccio Tagliavini is one of the most seductive and mellifluous Fentons. We hear his voice at its absolute prime, then one of the most beautiful lyric tenors on records. Sopranos Franca Somigli (Mistress Ford) and Augusta Oltrabella (Nanetta) reprise their roles from the 1937 Salzburg performance, and to fine effect. Vittoria Palumbina is an engaging Meg. Cloe Elmo, the Quickly in both performances on this set (and the 1950 Toscanini, as well), is superb; rich of voice, and ever attentive to the dramatic situation. As such, her Quickly is an ideal foil to Stabile’s Falstaff. Tullio Serafin leads a performance that combines vitality with a captivating lightness of touch and flexible phrasing. Toscanini remains for me the foremost interpreter of this score. But Serafin’s account is lovely and convincing on its own merits, especially in collaboration with such a marvelous cast. The sound on the Music and Arts issue is quite good; full-bodied with ample detail and color. But it does suffer a bit from explosiveness in the loudest passages, and the suggestion of a metallic quality surrounding the voices. Both of those issues are resolved in the IP restoration, which impresses me as warmer and better equalized overall.
The conductor for the 1952 La Scala performance is Victor de Sabata, who adopts a more propulsive and intense approach to Verdi’s score. The orchestral execution is here more robust and emphatic. Nonetheless, de Sabata fully appreciates and conveys FALSTAFF
’s endearing humor and humanity in a performance that, like Serafin’s, has an arresting ebb and flow, and space for the vocalists to express themselves. At the time of this performance, Stabile was 64 and, to the extent he once had a vocal prime, now past it. The voice has a noticeable spread in many sustained notes. Nevertheless, Stabile does not shrink from any of the vocal challenges, and he still sings with impressive musical and dramatic authority. Once again, Stabile’s interpretation is brilliant throughout, a masterful portrait. The young Renata Tebaldi is Alice Ford. While it is true that the role is not the ideal vehicle to display the rich beauty of her voice in its prime, we are certainly very much aware of that beauty, and Tebaldi proves herself a deft and engaging comedian. Rosanna Carteri is a delightful Nanetta, in gorgeous voice. Her Fenton, Cesare Valletti, was, like Tagliavini, one of the great lyric tenors of his age. Here, he is in marvelous form, singing beautifully, and with the utmost imagination. Anna Maria Canali’s Meg is well sung and dramatically alert. Cloe Elmo reprises her superb Quickly. In the late 1940s and early 1950s Paolo Silveri was a baritone with a rich and attractive voice (later, some of the vocal bloom disappeared). Under the right direction, as in this FALSTAFF
, Silveri could deliver thrilling performances. Silveri’s Ford is beautifully sung, virile, and a marvelous ‘straight man’ to Stabile’s Falstaff. In both the Rome and La Scala performances, the comprimario roles, so important to the fabric of this work, are expertly performed. The IP restoration of the 1952 La Scala FALSTAFF
represents a considerable improvement over the Music and Arts. The latter suggests the application of artificial enhancement, with a cavernous and resonant acoustic that obscures vocal and instrumental detail and color. The IP mastering removes those flaws. The recording is still inferior to commercial recordings of the time. But it now offers sufficient clarity, equalization, and warmth to provide listening pleasure. There are brief closing broadcast announcements at the conclusion of the performance.
As a bonus to the 1941 FALSTAFF
, IP includes Cetra studio recordings of Cloe Elmo in excerpts from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur and Ponchielli’s La Gioconda (both with soprano Gina Cigna), along with Brangäne’s Watch from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde (in Italian). The excerpts conclude with portions of Verdi’s Il Trovatore, from a 1948 Standard Hour broadcast (some announcer commentary is included). Tenor Charles Kullman is the Manrico. Elmo is just as effective in tragic repertoire as she is in the comic world of Verdi’s FALSTAFF
. Her rich and powerful voice is secure throughout the registers, and she is a fully committed performer. The Tristan excerpt is sung with the utmost beauty and nobility; a wonderful souvenir. Cesare Valletti is featured in the appendix to the 1952 La Scala FALSTAFF
, with selections from Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz (with Rosanna Carteri), Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto, Bellini’s La Sonnambula (the 1955 La Scala production, with Maria Callas, conducted by Leonard Bernstein), Rodolfo’s aria, ‘Quando le sere al placido’ from Verdi’s Luisa Miller, and Nadir’s aria from Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, ‘Je crois entendre encore’, sung in Italian. Valletti is in gorgeous voice, and his imaginative and elegant phrasing are a constant source of pleasure. A juxtaposition of the Sonnambula (‘Prendi, l’anel ti dono’) and Luisa Miller excerpts proves especially interesting. In both, Valletti sings with a masterful purity of line, suppleness of phrasing, and range of vocal colors and dynamics. As a result, the lineage of Verdi’s operas from those of his bel canto predecessors is emphasized in a revealing and profoundly satisfying way. The accompanying booklet includes Dewey Faulkner’s extended, informative, and eloquent notes on both the featured performances and Verdi’s FALSTAFF
. A detailed plot synopsis accompanies artist bios, and Richard Caniell’s Recording Notes. I am grateful to Music and Arts for giving me almost two decades of access to these historic and marvelous FALSTAFF
performances. Nonetheless, the sound of the new Immortal Performances release constitutes a palpable improvement, especially in the 1952 La Scala performance. In addition, the IP release affords the listener the opportunity to hear the 1941 Rome broadcast without omitting portions of Verdi’s score. Whether you own the prior set or not, I highly recommend the new IP release. 5 Stars: IP’s superb restorations of the 1941 Rome and 1952 La Scala performances of FALSTAFF
, with Mariano Stabile in the title role."
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE, Nov. / Dec., 2021
“The Italian baritone Mariano Stabile was a complete musician. His voice was a rather generic baritone, pleasant and well produced but not remarkable in itself. It was the intelligence with which he used it that made him stand out. Stabile was not known for the big Verdi baritone roles but for his brilliant dramatic skills, his musicianship, and the breadth of his repertoire, which extended well beyond Italian operas. Among the roles he sang over a long career were Beckmesser, Klingsor, Barak (in Die Frau ohne Schatten), Hamlet (Ambroise Thomas), Father in Louise (Charpentier), Figaro, and Don Giovanni. Yet above all there was the title role in Verdi’s last opera, Falstaff. Chosen by Toscanini to sing Falstaff in 1937 at Salzburg, it became Stabile’s calling card. He is reputed to have sung it over 1,200 times.JORGE BOLET: Brahms, Godowsky, Moszkowski, Chopin, Liszt, Liszt-Schubert & Schubert (the latter's Wanderer Fantasy). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-1264, Live Performance, 7 Aug., 1979, University of Maryland. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (P1408)
Both of these performances have been issued before, most notably on Music & Arts. The origin of the 1941 performance is unknown. It has been tentatively identified as an RAI broadcast and alternately as a performance at Rome’s Teatro Reale, but documentation from wartime Italy is erratic, so we just don’t know. There were serious gaps in the original source, which Music & Arts did not correct. Immortal Performances has restored the complete opera by editing in the same singers from other live performances and recordings. As usual with this label, the editing is masterful. The 1952 performance from La Scala also sounds more natural and better balanced here than it did on Music & Arts. In some ways, interestingly, the actual sound quality of the earlier recording is more natural.
Stabile was 53 and 64 by the time of these two performances. His voice was steadier and stronger in 1937 at Salzburg with Toscanini. By 1941 the voice was already a touch on the dry side but still steady; in 1952 it was a bit drier and occasionally (but only occasionally) unsteady. In both performances Stabile’s mastery of the role is complete. Falstaff is a difficult character to portray. One can easily go overboard with comic business. The challenge is in maintaining Verdi’s exquisitely etched musical line while still creating a character, and Stabile does this to perfection. Without resorting to extra-musical explosions or shouts, there is character in every phrase. Dewey Faulkner’s perceptive booklet essay singles out the ‘honor monologue’, noting that Stabile sings the interjections of ‘No’ with unique force while never varying from what Verdi wrote. This Falstaff is arrogant, shallow, and narcissistic, but he is always a human being, never a caricature. In addition, Stabile’s musicality assures the fluency of the ensemble writing.
The only other singer common to both performances is Cloe Elmo as Mistress Quickly. Born in 1910, Elmo was in her prime for these performances. Her rich, warm voice and her keen comedic sense are important assets. It is not surprising that this was one of the roles for which she was best known.
The two tenors singing the role of Fenton, Ferruccio Tagliavini in 1941 and Cesare Valletti in 1952, do so exquisitely. Both sing with honeyed tone and seamless legato, and with character as well. This is the only recorded performance of Tagliavini in the role. Fenton’s aria, ‘Dal labbro il canto estasiato vola’, is one of the parts missing from the 1941 recording; it has been seamlessly edited in from the tenor’s 1940 studio recording.
The two baritones singing Ford do not come off so equally. Paolo Silveri in 1952 is competent but in no ways memorable. Tito Gobbi, on the other hand, is magnificent in 1941 (this is the only recording of him singing the role). He and Stabile demonstrate the importance of crisp diction, which gives character and rhythmic spine to their performances. That Gobbi was only 28 at the time of this performance evidences that all the traits that made him one of the finest baritones of his era were present from the beginning.
Touching on other singers, one comes first to a young Renata Tebaldi in the 1951 La Scala performance. The beautiful glow and natural feeling for phrase-shaping that made her an international star were already present. Alice is not a role that took full advantage of Tebaldi’s vocal assets. Still, it is always a pleasure to hear that sound. Rosanna Carteri’s Nannetta in 1951 is another highlight. The remaining singers are all quite good in both performances. The two conductors are among the finest of the 20th century for Italian opera. Tullio Serafin was rarely interventionist in his approach. What he did bring was a complete understanding of the idiom, giving shape to both the whole and the components within that whole. Victor de Sabata could be more of a risk-taker, adding tempo adjustments and emphases of certain moments that might call attention to themselves. Frankly, I find that they add important personality to the performance and do not detract from its overall shape.
Immortal Performances does not leave unused space on its CDs, and the two bonuses here are a delight. One of the highlights is hearing Valletti sing the duet between Fritz and Suzel from Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz. However, the great discovery for me was Cloe Elmo singing Brangäne’s warning (in Italian, but gloriously) from Act II of Tristan und Isolde.
Immortal Performances is offering these four generously-filled CDs for the price of three. The usual superb booklet with essays and photographs completes the set. It is doubtful that these two important historical performances of FALSTAFF will ever be made to sound better than they do here."
“We are fortunate in the number of live recordings by the Cuban virtuoso pianist Jorge Bolet (1914–1990) that have been preserved. In addition to Ward Marston’s invaluable collection of 6 CDs [P1152]
, the Canadian label St-Laurent Studio is now up to Vol. 15 in their Bolet series. One reason for the existence of all this material is that Bolet was regularly engaged to play recitals at American music conservatories, most of which make professional-quality recordings of performances students to study. This is particularly important in the case of Bolet, whose studio recordings do not represent his best playing. He tended to stiffen in the recording studio, as if afraid to take risks.
Bolet was a throwback. The pianists he most admired were Hofmann, Rachmaninoff, and Cortot. On this recital from 1979 we hear playing that feels almost improvisatory. Bolet’s tone is warm, his legato seamless, his dynamic variety virtually unlimited. In Leopold Godowsky’s Etudes from Chopin Bolet seems to find infinite variations of piano and pianissimo in #15 (based on Chopin’s Etude, op. 10/7). In #1 (based on op. 10/1) he thunders without ever banging.
Bolet was more than a brilliant virtuoso, however. He was also a thoughtful interpreter who never lost sight of the shape of a piece, even as he applied rubato liberally. What he does not do is perform everything with the same approach. The Brahms Op. 116 set is given an intimate reading - even the climaxes are held a bit in reserve, which suits the nature of the music. Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy is played somewhat more impulsively and explosively, but still within appropriate boundaries for music written in 1822. Schubert himself referred to the work’s extreme technical difficulties, but one is not aware of them in Bolet’s performance. The lyricism that is so often at the heart of Schubert’s music is rendered beautifully.
CD 2 continues with the final scheduled work on the program, Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody #12, before the three encores. Bolet seems to be enjoying himself hugely in the Liszt, clearly relishing every moment. He shifts dynamics and tempos at the drop of a hat but never to the point of distortion. The richness of tone at a soft dynamic in the Chopin Nocturne is sheer magic. We’re back to having fun with Moszkowski’s ‘La jongleuse’, played with puckish wit. The recital ends with a richly colored reading of Liszt’s transcription of Schubert’s ‘Auf dem Wasser zu singen’.
The piano sound is a touch on the dry side, as if miked just a bit too closely, and there is some noise from the original source, but producer Yves St.-Laurent has done his usual expert job with a faithful reproduction. Those who attended this University of Maryland recital were fortunate to hear one of the pianistic giants in Bolet’s generation. We are fortunate that St-Laurent Studio has made it available to the rest of us.”
- Henry Fogel, FANFAREKLAUS TENNSTEDT Cond. London Phil.: Nocturnes; Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune (both Debussy), Live Performance, 10 May, 1992; KLAUS TENNSTEDT Cond. NDR S.O., w. MANFRED ZEH: Oboe Concerto in d (Strauss), Live Performance, 12 Nov., 1979. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-1252. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1975)
“Because he spent the beginning of his career in East Germany, Klaus Tennstedt was virtually unknown in the West until he was in his late 40s. But his international career took off after he left East Germany in 1971. From the time he made his first appearances in North America, with the Toronto and Boston Symphony Orchestras in 1974, he was regarded as an uncommonly probing, expressive conductor of works from the mainstream Romantic repertory.
Mr. Tennstedt was born in Merseburg, Germany, on 6 June, 1926. When he was 15, he enrolled at the Leipzig Conservatory, where he studied violin, piano and music theory. He also studied in Dresden during World War II, and he told one interviewer that after the firebombing of Dresden in 1944, he was in the fire brigade and assigned to dig bodies out of the rubble.
In 1948 he was appointed concertmaster of the Halle Municipal Theater Orchestra, where his father was a violinist. Four years later he began conducting the Orchestra, and he soon became its music director. In 1958, he became music director of the Dresden Opera and in 1962 he took over the Schwerin State Orchestra and the Schwerin State Theater. During the 1960s, Mr. Tennstedt had an active touring schedule in East Germany, and was a frequent guest of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic, the Dresden Staatskapelle and the Berlin Radio Orchestra. He also performed in the Soviet Union and in Czechoslovakia. When preparing for a tour in 1971, Mr. Tennstedt found that his passport had been mistakenly stamped with an exit visa for the West. He left East Germany for Sweden, announced his intention not to return, and persuaded the East German Government to allow his wife to join him. In Sweden, he became the director of the Stora Theater in Goteborg and the conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm. In 1972, he became director of the Kiel Opera in West Germany.
Mr. Tennstedt's first break in North America occurred after the death of Karel Ancerl, the director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. When the Orchestra's managing director, Walter Homburger, went to Europe in search of a replacement, he read some reviews of Mr. Tennstedt's work in Kiel. After hearing him conduct Bruckner's Seventh Symphony, he hired him for a series of Toronto concerts in May 1974. He made his Boston Symphony debut later that year. [This outstanding performance, described as a 'once in a lifetime' event, in which Tennstedt gave the Boston audience and radio listeners a positively electrifying account of Bruckner's 8th, is still talked about in Boston to this day! After rehearsing, the Orchestra spontaneously broke into applause during a coffee break.]
Mr. Tennstedt became principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic in 1977, served as principal guest conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1979 to 1982, and returned to the London Philharmonic as its music director from 1983 to 1987. After he relinquished the post, he became the Orchestra's conductor laureate.”
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 13 Jan., 1998DON QUICHOTTE (in Italian) (Massenet), Broadcast Performance, 25 May, 1957, w.Simonetto Cond. RAI Ensemble, Milano; Teresa Berganza, Boris Christoff & Carlo Badioli. [Massenet identified personally with his comic-heroic protagonist as he was in love with Lucy Arbell who sang Dulcinee at the first performance. He was then 67 and died just two years later. The role of Don Quichotte was one of the most notable achievements of the Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin, for whom the role was specifically conceived. This 1910 opera was one of six commissioned from Massenet by Raoul Gunsbourg for the Opera de Monte-Carlo] (E.U.) 2-Myto 00157. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! (OP1685)
“A dramatic figure with flashing dark eyes, Ms. Berganza was acclaimed as a coloratura mezzo and contralto, with a vocal register that was warm at its lower range and supple at its higher end. Her vast repertoire as a recitalist included German lieder, French and Italian art songs and, most notably, Spanish music — zarzuelas, arias and Gypsy ballads — which she consistently championed.
In addition to exuding charisma and sensuality, Ms. Berganza embraced a disciplined, analytical approach to her roles. ‘For the most part, she sings exactly what is written in perfect pitch and accurate rhythm’, Harold C. Schonberg of THE NEW YORK TIMES wrote in a review of Ms. Berganza’s performance in Rossini’s LA CENERENTOLA at the San Francisco Opera in 1969. He lauded her as ‘one of the most gifted of coloratura singers’.
Ms. Berganza viewed her growth as a diva as a deliberate progression from Rossini to Mozart and finally to Bizet. ‘Rossini for his technique, agility, and Mozart for his style, his soul’, she wrote in her autobiography, UN MONDE HABITE PAR LE CHANT (A World Inhabited by Song), written with Olivier Bellamy and published in 2013. Only after feeling confident about works by those composers did she attempt Carmen — with great success. The conductor Herbert von Karajan declared her ‘the Carmen of the century’.
Ms. Berganza made her operatic debut as Dorabella in Mozart’s COSI FAN TUTTE in 1957 at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in France. In 1958, she made her first appearance at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala as Isolier in Rossini’s LE COMTE ORY. The next year she debuted at Covent Garden in London as Rosina in Rossini’s IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, which would become one of her signature roles. Critics delighted in her rich, fluid contralto voice, which easily handled the complex embellishments demanded of Rossini heroines.
In 1967, Ms. Berganza made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Cherubino in Mozart’s LE NOZZE DI FIGARO. It would become yet another popular role for her.
For years, Ms. Berganza declined offers to perform the lead in CARMEN, saying that she found the complexity of the character too intimidating. She finally agreed to take it on in 1977, at the King’s Theater in Edinburgh. She spent weeks in southern Spain interviewing women living in the caves outside Granada to, as she put it, ‘better understand Gypsy life’. Rejecting the more traditional portrayal of Carmen as a prostitute, she chose to play her instead as a rebellious Gypsy. ‘She speaks with her heart, her body, her guts’, Ms. Berganza wrote in her autobiography.
Reviewing a Carnegie Hall recital in November 1982. the TIMES critic Donal Henahan wrote, ‘The Berganza voice, always a wonder of suppleness and dark polish, has now become, if anything, more excitingly robust and dramatic. Ms. Berganza’, he added, ‘had also become a superior actor. He praised her intense reading of Joseph Haydn’s ARIANNA AUF NAXOS, a cantata that demands frequent sudden changes in emotional expression, which she followed with a witty rendering of Modest Mussorgsky’s ‘Nursery’ cycle, in which she alternately portrayed the child and the nurse.
In the days leading up to a stage performance, Ms. Berganza would go to extremes to protect her voice. When her children were still young, she wore a scarf over her mouth to remind them she wasn’t supposed to speak. Instead, she wrote notes to answer their questions or give them instructions. At night, fearful of tobacco smoke, she avoided restaurants.
Fittingly, Ms. Berganza’s last opera performance, at age 57, was in CARMEN at the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville, not far from the former tobacco factory that was the setting for the Carmen story. Placido Domingo conducted and Jose Carreras played the role of Don Jose, the jilted lover who kills Carmen, in that 1992 production.
Ms. Berganza would continue to give recitals into her 70s. She insisted she had no regrets about not having been born a soprano, which would have given her the opportunity for many more leading stage roles. She preferred being a mezzo, she said, just as she favored the more mellow sound of a cello over a violin. ‘If I could not sing’, she wrote in her autobiography, ‘I would want to be a cellist’.”
- Jonathan Kandell, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 13 May, 2022
- - - REPEATED FROM THE RECENT PAST - - -
JENNIE TOUREL – Tribute, incl. DAS LIED VON DER ERDE (in English) (Mahler), Jennie Tourel & Hans Heinz, Boston Symphony Orchestra w.Richard Burgin Cond., Live Performance, 4 Dec., 1943, w.Broadcast Commentary by Gene Hamilton; LIEDER EINES FAHRENDEN GESELLEN (Mahler), Jennie Tourel, Toronto Symphony: w.Susskind Cond., Live Performance, 6 Nov., 1957 (World Premiere release); MAHLER LIEDER: Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft, Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, Das irdische Leben, Um mitternacht, Jennie Tourel, NYPO Live Performance, w.Bernstein Cond. 7 Feb., 1960, Carnegie Hall, w.Broadcast Commentary; RECITAL: Ch’io mi scordi di te?, K 505 (Mozart); Oh! Quand je dors (Liszt), Jennie Tourel wGeorge Reeves (Pf.), c. 1955; BBC RECITAL, EDINBURGH FESTIVAL, 4 Sept., 1955: Tu lo sai (Torelli); O Mitridate (Scarlatti); La regata veneziana (Rossini); Over the Steppe (Gretchaninoff); After The Ball (Tschaikowsky), Jennie Tourel, w.George Reeves (Pf.), w.Broadcast Commentary by David Thompson; ASPEN MUSIC FESTIVAL: Salve Regina (Scarlatti), Jennie Tourel, Aspen Music Festival Orch w.Susskind Cond., Live Performance, 1962; July-Aug., 1962, Aspen, Colorado; OFFENBACH ARIAS from Orphee aux Enfers - Couplet des Baisers; La Grande-Duchesse de Gerolstein - Dites-lui: Jennie Tourel, Columbia Symphony Orchestra w.Jean Morel Cond., Recorded 1952; LA GRANDE-DUCHESSE DE GEROLSTEIN (Offenbach), Jennie Tourel, Andre Turp, Martial Singher, Louis Quilico, Stefan Schnabel & Andre Lortie, American Opera Society Ensemble, Carnegie Hall, w.Arnold Gamson Cond. Live Performance, 10 Nov., 1959. (Canada) 3-Immortal Performances IPCD 1153. Transfers & Essay by Richard Caniell; Program Notes by Ken Meltzer & Gerald Parker, w.34pp booklet. (V2693)
HERBERT von KARAJAN Cond. Vienna Phil.: Concerto Grosso in E-flat, op. 4/10 (Locatelli); ‘Unfinished’ Symphony #8 in b (Schubert); Also sprach Zarathustra (Strauss); Delirium Waltz (Josef Strauss). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-1224, Live Performance, 9 April, 1962, Theatre des Champs-Elysees, Paris. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1974)
PIERRE BOULEZ Cond. Paris Opera Orch.: Symphony #10: - Adagio; w. YVONNE MINTON & JON VICKERS: DAS LIED VON DER ERDE (both Mahler) (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-1276, Live Performance, 20 Feb., 1981. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1973)
ARTURO TOSCANINI Cond. NBC S.O: Symphony #2 in D Major, op. 36 (Beethoven); 'Enigma' Variations, op. 36 (Elgar), Live Performance, NBC Studio 8H, New York, 5 November, 1949; 'Enigma' Variations, op. 36 (Elgar), Rehearsal Excerpts, New York, February 14, 1951. (Canada) 2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1152, with Commentary by Ben Grauer. Notes by Robert Matthew-Walker. Transfers by Richard Caniell. (C1969)
KLAUS TENNSTEDT Cond. London Phil.: 'Tragic' Overture; Symphony #3 in F; w. RADU LUPU: Piano Concerto #1 in d (all Brahms). [The poetic second movement of the Concerto is duly memorable!] (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-1250, Live Performance, 7 April, 1983, Royal Festival Hall, London. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1970)
TAKASHI ASAHINA Cond. Osaka Phil.: 'Romantic' Symphony #4 in E-flat (1881 version, ed. Haas) (Bruckner). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-1247, Live Performance, 21-25 July, 1993, Festival Hall, Osaka. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1960)
ARTHUR NIKISCH Cond. Berlin & London Phil.: Nozze – Overture (Mozart); Symphony #5 in c (Beethoven); Rhapsodie hongroise #1 (Liszt); Le Carnaval romaine – Overture (Berlioz); Oberon – Overture (von Weber). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-1197, recorded 1913-21. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1968)
LEONARD BERNSTEIN Cond. Orchestre National de Monte Carlo: 'Titan' Symphony #1 in D (Mahler); Candide – Overture (Cond. by the Composer); Piano Concerto #17 in G, K.453 (Mozart). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-1258, Live Performance, 11 Aug., 1962, Palais du prince, Monaco. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1967)
ATALUFO ARGENTA Cond. Spanish National Orch.: Symphony #4 in d (Schumann); Till Eulenspiegel (Strauss); w. JACQUES THIBAUD: Symphonie espagnole (Lalo). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-1231, Live Performance, 14 March, 1951, Theatre des Champs-Elysees. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1971)
CHARLES MUNCH Cond. ORTF S.O.: Maurerische Trauermusik, K.477 (Mozart); w.Agnes Giebel, Marga Hoffgen, Gerhard Unger & Thomas Stewart: 'Choral' Symphony #9 in d (Beethoven). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-1216, Live Performance, 27 June, 1963, Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Chartres, Chartres, France. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1972)
LUBOSHUTZ AND NEMENOFF: The Art of Duo-Piano Playing, w.Serge Koussevitzky, Robert Shaw & Harl MacDonald: Bach-Vivaldi, Handel, Mozart, Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Saint-Saens, Mendelssohn, Weber, Reger, Schumann, Strauss, Glinka, Cui, Khachaturian, Mussorgsky, Kreisler, de Falla, Rossini, Levitzki, Milhaud, Luboshutz, Portnoff, Shostakovich, Stravinsky & Harl McDonald. 4-Marston 54010. (P1413)
JORGE BOLET: My Joys (Chopin-Liszt); w.John Eliot Gardiner Cond. Orchestre national de Lyon: Wanderer Fantasy (Schubert-Liszt), Live Performance, 21 Aug., 1987, Montpellier; w.Erich Leinsdorf Cond. Boston Symphony Orch.: Fantasie uber Motive aus Beethoven's Ruinen von Athen(Liszt); Parergon on Symphonia Domestica (Strauss), Live Performance, 9 Aug., 1964, Tanglewood. [An exceptionally unexpected Bolet treasure of equally rarified programming!] (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-1265. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (P1416)
TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, Live Performance, 16 April, 1938, (replete with Milton Cross' commentary), w.Bodanzky Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Kirsten Flagstad, Lauritz Melchior, Karin Branzell, Julius Huehn, Emanuel List, etc.; KIRSTEN FLAGSTAD: BBC's 1992 'Vintage Years' Tribute to Kirsten Flagstad - singing Brahms, Grieg, and Wagner. (Canada) 3-Immortal Performances IPCD 1151. Notes by Dewey Faulkner & Richard Caniell. Transfers by Richard Caniell. Elaborate Edition features numerous lovely photos & 52pp. booklet. (OP3440)
EILEEN FARRELL - Tribute, incl. OTELLO (Rossini), w. Arnold Gamson Cond. American Opera Society Ensemble; Eileen Farrell, Thomas Hayward, Hugh Thompson, Loren Driscoll, Martha Lipton, Chester Watson, etc., Live Performance, 11 Oct., 1957, Carnegie Hall; TRISTAN UND ISOLDE - Act II IP Complete, w. Steinberg Cond. Boston S.O.; Eileen Farrell, James King, Nell Rankin, Robert Hale, etc., Live Performance, 21 April, 1972, Symphony Hall, Boston, w.Broadcast Commentary & Curtain Calls; TRISTAN UND ISOLDE - Liebestod, w.Bernstein Cond. NYPO; Eileen Farrell, Live Performance, 26 Feb.,1969, Philharmonic Hall; EILEEN FARRELL: Arias & Duets w. Richard Tucker, Robert Merrill, Mildred Miller & Jerome Hines, from Alceste, Forza & Cavalleria Rusticana, Live Performances from the Met Opera, 1961 & 1964. (Canada) 3-Immortal Performances IPCD 1155, w.Elaborate 47pp. Booklet. Transfers by Richard Caniell. Notes by William Russell & Richard Caniell. (V2691)
LICIA ALBANESE - A Tribute, incl. LA TRAVIATA, w.Cesare Sodero Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Licia Albanese, Richard Tucker, Leonard Warren, etc., Live Performance, 23 March, 1946; TOSCA, w.Dimitri Mitropoulos Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Licia Albanese, Daniele Barioni, Leonard Warren, etc., Live Performance, 23 March, 1957; Arias and scenes from Mefistofele, Adriana Lecouvreur, Suor Angelica, Louise, Don Giovanni, Don Pasquale (with Giuseppe de Luca), Manon Lescaut (with Richard Tucker) & La Traviata (with Guy Richard Gordon). (Canada) 4-Immortal Performances IPCD 1154, w.Elaborate 52pp. Booklet. Transfers by Richard Caniell. Notes by William Russell & Richard Caniell. (V2692)
GEORGE GROSSMITH, Jr.: George Grossmith’s records for the Gramophone Company, incl. Songs & Duets from Theodore, Peggy, Our Miss Gibbs, The Sunshine Girl, Peggy, The Girl on the Film, The Cabaret Girl, Tonight’s the Night, Genevieve de Brabant, The Naughty Princess, Sally, No, No Nanette & Lady Mary; three additional songs plus the 1908-10 Jumbo Records. (England) 2-Palaeophonics 173A & 173B, recorded 1909-28. [Of note: This 2-CD Set of improved restoration replaces the earlier Palaeophonics issues Nos. 86 & 100], w.Elaborate 'The Play' 24pp. Brochure replete with numerous photos from various productions & biographies. Excellently transferred from the legendary Acoustic 78rpm rarities. [Beyond any doubt, this piece de resistance, Dominic Combe's most recent and elaborate production, is the ultimate of his delightful creations; the duet from GENEVIEVE DE BRABANT is among these priceless renditions!] (PE0364)
BOOKS ON SALE
“Books have become our lonely stepchildren! By spending so many hours constantly revising our thousands of CDs we realize we have paid scant attention to our BOOKS ON SALE, thus many have been added (with more appearing), accompanied by greatly reduced prices! Have a glance at our SALE section - for BOOKS!
[many sealed copies of
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many Met Opera broadcasts &
operas from Moscow's Aquarius, plus
numerous lesser-known operas have been added
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OP3441. FALSTAFF, Live Performance, 28 April, 1941, Rome, w. Serafin Cond. Rome Opera Ensemble; Mariano Stabile, Tito Gobbi, Ferruccio Tagliavini, Franca Somigli, Vittoria Polumbina, Cloe Elmo, Augusta Oltrabella, Cesare Masini-Sperti, Gino Conti & Adelio Zagonora; FALSTAFF, Live Performance, 7 June, 1952, w. de Sabata Cond. La Scala Ensemble; Mariano Stabile, Paolo Silveri, Cesare Valletti, Renata Tebaldi, Anna Maria Canali, Cloe Elmo, Rosanna Carteri, Giuseppe Nessi, Italo Tajo & Mariano Caruso; CLOE ELMO: Arias and Scenes from Adriana Lecouvreur, La Gioconda, (with Gina Cigna), Tristan und Isolde (in Italian) – recorded 1941-42; w.Charles Kullman; Merola Cond. San Francisco Opera Orch.: Il Trovatore – Two Excerpts, Broadcast Performance, 26 Sept., 1948, w. Broadcast Commentary; CESARE VALLETTI: Arias and Scenes from Il Matrimonio Segreto, Luisa Miller, Les Pêcheurs de Perles; L’Amico Fritz (with Rosanna Carteri) & La Sonnambula (with Maria Callas) – recorded 1953-63. (Canada) 4-Immortal Performances IPCD 1156, w. Elaborate 54pp. Booklet, w.Notes by Dewey Faulkner & Richard Caniell. Audio restoration by Richard Caniell. [No Verdi specialist would wish to be without this treasure!] Specially priced at Four discs for the price of Three. - 793888826038
P1408. JORGE BOLET: Brahms, Godowsky, Moszkowski, Chopin, Liszt, Liszt-Schubert & Schubert (the latter's Wanderer Fantasy). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-1264, Live Performance, 7 Aug., 1979, University of Maryland. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
C1975. KLAUS TENNSTEDT Cond. London Phil.: Nocturnes; Prelude à l'après-midi d'un faune (both Debussy), Live Performance, 10 May, 1992; KLAUS TENNSTEDT Cond. NDR S.O., w. Manfred Zeh: Oboe Concerto in d (Strauss), Live Performance, 12 Nov., 1979. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-1252. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
OP1685. DON QUICHOTTE (in Italian) (Massenet), Broadcast Performance, 25 May, 1957, w.Simonetto Cond. RAI Ensemble, Milano; Teresa Berganza, Boris Christoff & Carlo Badioli. [Massenet identified personally with his comic-heroic protagonist as he was in love with Lucy Arbell who sang Dulcinée at the first performance. He was then 67 and died just two years later. The role of Don Quichotte was one of the most notable achievements of the Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin, for whom the role was specifically conceived. This 1910 opera was one of six commissioned from Massenet by Raoul Gunsbourg for the Opéra de Monte-Carlo] (E.U.) 2-Myto 00157. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 8014399501576
Regular price: $19.90
Sale price: $9.95