C0503. MARIO ROSSI Cond. RAI Ensemble, Torino, w.Suzanne Danco, Adriana Martino & Waldemar Kmentt: Davidde Penitente, K.469 (Mozart), Live Performance, 14 April, 1956; SUZANNE DANCO: Don Giovanni – Arias & Scenes, 1951. (Germany) Archipel 0359. Final copies. - 40351224043596
“A recent budget-priced recording of Mozart's oratorio, DAVIDDE PENITENTE, K. 469 came into my hands that I wanted primarily because of Belgian soprano Suzanne Danco's participation. This appears on an Archipel 0359 recorded live in Torino, Italy on April 14, 1956. Assisting artists are soprano Adriana Martino and tenor Waldemar Kmentt with the RAI-Torino Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Mario Rossi. The recording has never been previously issued.
This work is always mentioned in the same breath as Mozart's famous Mass in C Minor (‘Great’), K. 427. Usually one or two of the arias in DAVIDDE PENITENTE are heard in concerts or on recordings, but rarely is the work performed in its entirety. The history behind DAVIDDE, to this day, remains vague. It is even difficult to find much about the work in many publications. It was originally intended for a Lenten service in 1785. Librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte supplied new Italian texts.
In 1783, Mozart had written a letter to his father promising to write a mass in honour of his marriage to Constanze Weber. Four decades later, Constanze told Vincenzo Novello that Mozart had planned to write a votive mass for her recovery following the birth of their first child. Only certain parts of DAVIDDE were finished and other parts were not even started. Apparently some parts could be interchangeable with the Mass in C Minor. Only ten parts comprise DAVIDDE. Allegedly, Nannerl, Mozart's sister reported that Constanze was one of the singers but there is nothing definite to define if it was the Mass in C Minor or DAVIDDE PENITENTE. This is where so much confusions rests. If only Nannerl had been more specific.”
- Lance G. Hill, Classical Music Guide, 26 May, 2007
“Mario Rossi was an Italian conductor, noted for his solid and meticulous readings of a repertory ranging from Italian classics to Russian moderns such as Prokoffiev, to the German operatic classicist Christoph Willibald Gluck. He studied composition in Rome with Respighi and conducting with Giacomo Setaccioli, graduating in 1925, and soon after graduation he took up the post of assistant conductor to Bernardino Molinari. Appointed resident conductor of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence (1937–46), he made his début on the podium there in 1937 with Mascagni's IRIS. The following year he led the premiere of Gian Francesco Malipiero's opera ANTONIO E CLEOPATRA.
He conducted in all the major opera houses of Italy. As well as establishing himself in the standard Italian repertory, he took part in many revivals of ancient works such as Galuppi's IL FILOSOFO DI CAMPAGNA, Monteverdi's IL RITORNO D'ULISSE IN PATRIA, and Piccinni's LA BUONA FIGLIUOLA.
From 1946 till 1969 he served as chief conductor of the orchestra of the RAI in Turin. He elevated this group to an international level, making guest appearances in Brussels (1950), Vienna, (1951), and Salzburg (1952). Amongst his best performances on record were IL MATRIMONIO SEGRETO, IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, DON PASQUALE, UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, OTELLO and FALSTAFF.
His recordings of Gluck's PARIDE ED ELENA (1968) and of Prokofiev's ALEXANDER NEVSKY (1954) display Rossi as an unquestionably great conductor whose styles in a 1770 German masterpiece as well as in a 20th-Century Russian masterpiece are remarkable for avoiding any distinctively ‘Italianate’ or otherwise inauthentic stylistic tendencies. In other words, the range of Rossi's musical sympathies was extraordinary. He was certainly one of the least-known of the great orchestral conductors of the 20th Century, one of the very few conductors who sounded authentically Gluckian when performing Gluck, just as much as he sounded authentically Verdian when performing Verdi. Achieving excellence across such a disparate repertory is rare even for great conductors, most of whom are stylistically authentic only in the music of a few periods, or a few nationalities (usually their own). For sheer universality, Rossi had few if any equals.”
- Zillah D. Akron
“The Belgian soprano Suzanne Danco was the epitome of the well-schooled, clear voiced soprano in the French tradition. She sang her wide repertory with impeccable taste, an unerring sense of the requisite style for the music, and was especially admired for her Mozart, which she sang internationally in the 1950s, her readings both thoughtful and well-groomed.
Danco was Flemish, born and brought up in Brussels. Although her family discouraged her from a career as a musician, she was helped to become a singer at the Brussels Music Academy by the Queen of the Belgians. On the advice of the eminent conductor Erich Kleiber, she went to Prague to study with the famous teacher Fernando Carpi, before making her stage début in Italy in 1941 at the Genoa Opera, as Fiordiligi in COSI FAN TUTTI, a role that was a favourite with her and with audiences.
After the second world war, she appeared at La Scala as Jocasta in Stravinsky's OEDIPUS REX and Ellen Orford in Britten's PETER GRIMES (first performances in Italy of both operas), and at the San Carlo, Naples she sang Marie in the first Italian performance of Berg's WOZZECK. These roles demonstrated her eclectic taste. She once remarked that she didn't mind what she sang and enjoyed tackling all kinds of music.
Danco's first stage appearance in Britain was at Glyndebourne in 1951, where she was Donna Elvira, a role fitted to her talents, in DON GIOVANNI. That year she made her only appearance at Covent Garden, as Mimi in LA BOHÈME. Danco was prominent in the early years of the Aix-en-Provence Festival in her Mozart roles, encouraged by the festival's presiding conductor, Hans Rosbaud, who always chose his casts with discernment.
The Swiss conductor, Ernest Ansermet, was also taken with her talents, and thought her ideal for the French repertory he had just begun recording for Decca with his Suisse Romande Orchestra; she took part in many classic performances on disc with him in the 1950s, including the much admired earlier (and better) of Ansermet's two sets of Debussy's PELLÈAS ET MÉLISANDE. Danco's Mélisande strikes just the right balance between knowingness and innocence, a paradox at the heart of that equivocal role. Another recording triumph with Ansermet was as the sexy, scheming Concepcion in L'HEURE ESPAGNOLE and as the Princess in L'ENFANT ET LES SORTILÈGES, on a Ravel double-bill.
She caught to perfection the etheral tone of the soprano solo in Fauré's REQUIEM; produced a feted recording of Ravel's SHÉHÉRAZADE; and in Berlioz's LES NUITS D'ÉTÉ, her slightly cool, subtly inflected reading, notable for the intelligent treatment of the text, has stood the test of time.
She gave a distinguished account on disc of Schumann's LIEDERKREIS and of songs by Mozart, Schubert and Brahms, all still worth looking for. Even more memorable are her idiomatic readings of the mélodies of Fauré and Debussy. Of her concert roles, her Marguerite in Charles Munch's fine recording of Berlioz's LA DAMNATION DE FAUST is a worthy souvenir. She catches the ache of the betrayed heroine's romance.
From 1960, Danco's operatic appearances were few and far between, but she continued her concert career until her final appearance, in Mahler's Fourth Symphony in 1970. After her retirement she first taught at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, and latterly was a frequent visitor to the Britten-Pears School at Snape, where she dispensed good advice in a strict but kind manner. Her joint courses with the Swiss tenor Hugues Cuénod were entertaining events and wonderful examples of the impeccable style of which both singers had been such important advocates.
She named her villa at Fieseole ‘Amarilli’, probably to recall her 1949 recording of Caccini's song of that name. It caused a sensation among connoisseurs of fine singing and has seldom, if ever, been surpassed.”
- Alan Blyth, THE GUARDIAN, 3 Sept., 2000
“Waldemar Kmentt, born in Vienna in 1929, was the Vienna State Opera’s ‘house tenor’ for more than 20 years. In that capacity he was known for his versatility and dependability, singing 78 rôles in almost 1500 performances from 1952 to 1973….His was a smooth and attractive lyric tenor with solid high notes up to and including high C….I know of no other ‘house tenor’ whose singing was consistently on his high level.”
- Kurt Moses, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Nov./Dec., 2009
“This busy tenor established his reputation early as a reliable artist in Mozart and Bach. With a voice less sensuous than those of Léopold Simoneau or Anton Dermota, Kmentt nonetheless was frequently engaged for stage performances, concert work, and recordings. Eventually, he ventured as far into a heavier repertory as Walter von Stolzing, a role he sang at the Bayreuth Festival. Kmentt's Metropolitan Opera début -- in a speaking role -- awaited the new millennium, but still brought encomiums from audiences and the press. First intending to pursue a career as a pianist, Kmentt later studied singing at the Vienna Academy of Music with Hans Duhan, Elisabeth Rado and Adolf Vogel. At that time, he was selected to tour Belgium and the Netherlands with a student opera ensemble that included two singers who would later achieve considerable fame: tenor Fritz Uhl and bass baritone Walter Berry. Kmentt's formal début took place in 1950 with a performance in Vienna of Beethoven's Symphony #9 conducted by Karl Böhm. In 1951, he made his professional stage début singing in a Wiener Volksoper production of Prokofiev's THE LOVE FOR THREE ORANGES. The year following, Kmentt became a member of the Wiener Staatsoper. For the first three years of his tenure, the company performed at the Theater an der Wien while awaiting reconstruction of the company's own house. For the reopening of the Staatsoper in 1955, Kmentt was cast as Jacquino in FIDELIO, sharing the stage with such luminaries as Martha Mödl, Anton Dermota, and Ludwig Weber. That same year, he made his début at the Salzburg Festival singing Dandini in Pfitzner's PALESTRINA. Mozart served for his introduction to La Scala in 1968 when he sang the title role in IDOMENEO. Kmentt made his début at Bayreuth the same year, singing Walter in DIE MEISTERSINGER. During the years of his prime, he also appeared frequently in operetta. When Kmentt gradually relinquished leading roles, he moved into comprimario parts, such as the Major-Domo in DER ROSENKAVALIER. Ironically, it was another Major-Domo, this one in Strauss' ARIADNE AUF NAXOS, who finally brought Kmentt to the Metropolitan Opera in spring 2001. Among Kmentt's roles captured in recording are the tenor part in Bach's ST. MATTHEW PASSION under Møgens Wöldike, his Froh under Solti, and his Ferrando with Böhm, taped live at La Scala.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com