OP0021. ANDREA CHÉNIER, recorded 1930, w.Molajoli Cond. La Scala Ensemble; Lina Bruna-Rasa, Luigi Marini, Carlo Galeffi, etc.; LINA BRUNA RASA & CARLO GALEFFI, w.Molajoli Cond.: Arias & Scenes from Mefistofele, Aida, Il Trovatore, Rigoletto, Ernani, Nabucco & Tosca - recorded 1928. (Canada) 2-Naxos 8.110066/67. Transfers by Ward Marston. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 636943106624
"Lina Bruna Rasa was an Italian operatic soprano, particularly noted for her performances in the verismo repertoire and was a favourite of Pietro Mascagni who considered her the ideal Santuzza. Bruna Rasa created the roles of Atte in Mascagni's NERONE, Cecilia Sagredo in Franco Vittadini's LA SAGREDO and Saint Clare in Licinio refice's 1926 oratorio, TRITTICO FRANCESCANO. she also sang the role of Tsaritsa Militarisa in the Italian premiere of Rimsky-Korsakov's THE TALE OF TSAR SALTAN.
Lina Bruna Rasa was born at Padua and began her music studies at age 14, studying with Guido Palumbo and Italiano Tabarin in her native Padua, and later in Milan with Manlio Bavagnoli. Her appearance in a 1925 concert at the Teatro La Fenice singing the 'Suicidio!' from LA GIOCONDA created a sensation. By the end of that year, at the age of 18 she made her operatic debut singing the role of Elena in Boito's MEFISTOFELE at the Teatro Politeama in Genoa. She made her debut at the Teatro Regio in Turin in the same role on 21 February 1926, and was engaged by Toscanini to sing Elena for the opening of the 1927 season at La Scala where she made her debut on 16 November 1927. She went on to sing in many notable performances there including the world premieres of Mascagni's NERONE, Franco Vittadini's LA SAGREDO, the Italian premiere of Rimsky-Korsakov's THE TALE OF TSAR SALTAN and some of the earliest performances Wolf-Ferrari's SLY, Vincenzo Michetti's LA MADDALENA, and Respighi's LA CAMPANA SOMMERSA. In a departure from her usual repertoire, she sang Mathilde for La Scala's celebration of the 100th anniversary of Rossini's WILLIAM TELL.
In the years between 1926 and 1933, Bruna Rasa sang throughout Italy as well as in Montecarlo, Nice, Lausanne and Barcelona where she sang Aida at the city's Gran Teatre del Liceu. Further afield, she travelled to Egypt in 1927 where she sang in AIDA and OMINIZA in Cairo's Teatro Reale. In 1929, she was engaged by the theatrical impresario, Faustino da Rosa, for a series of performances in South America. She made her debut at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires on 14 June 1929 as Maddalena de Coigny in ANDREA CHENIER with Georges Thill as Chénier. She also sang there in CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA, TOSCA, and LA CAMPANA SOMMERSA in its South American premiere. In August, da Rosa's singers went on to Uruguay where she sang in ANDREA CHENIER (again with Thill) and TOSCA at the Teatro Solis in Montevideo.
Bruna Rasa's earliest assumptions of Santuzza in CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA, the role for which she is best remembered today, were in 1927 in Lausanne and Bari. The opera's composer, Pietro Mascagni, and Bruna Rasa met for the first time in Venice in July 1928 when he conducted a performance of CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA in the Piazza San Marco before a crowd of 35,000 people. Mascagni was struck by her dramatic intensity and her powerful yet beautiful voice. She was to become his favourite Santuzza. He subsequently conducted many of her performances in the role both in Italy and abroad and chose her for the 1940 recording of CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA which marked the 50th anniversary of its premiere. It is the only full-length studio recording of the work which is conducted by Mascagni himself.
In the early 1930s Bruna Rasa had begun showing signs of the mental illness which was to cause her premature retirement from the stage. This worsened with the death of her mother in 1935. She suffered a severe breakdown which led to her spending increasingly longer periods away from the stage, often in sanatoriums. Gino Bechi who sang with her on the 1940 CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA recording recalled that during the recording sessions she would insistently ask him if he had noticed the white horses in the wings that she believed were waiting to take her away, but would become completely lucid when the music began. The tenor Giovanni Breviario who sang with her in Lecco in 1941 recalled: 'Her marvelous voice came to life as soon as she began her scenes. This happened only onstage. We were all very affectionate toward her, but when not on the stage, she was passive, apathetic, would not speak and remained doggedly clinging to her handbag'.
On 20 July 1942, she sang in CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA at the outdoor arena in Pesaro. It was to be her final performance in a staged opera.
Lina Bruna Rasa opened the 1927 Scala season as Elena in MEFISTOFELE, under Toscanini. That year she sang in the world premiere there of Wolf Ferrari's SLY. Mascagni chose her for the world premiere of his NERONE at La Scala (1935), for a CAVALLERIA tour in Holland, Belgium and France (1937) and for his studio recording of CAVALLERIA (1940). In 1935, after the death of her mother, she became schizophrenic and in 1937 tried to throw herself into the orchestra pit during a performance. In 1940 she was institutionalized but was released occasionally to perform. She moved Toscanini to tears at a 1947 Milan concert. After an unsuccessful comeback in 1948 she was returned to the institution. Lina Bruna Rasa spent the last 36 years of her life in a mental hospital in Milan, where she died."
- Stefan Zucker
"A front-ranking representative of that class of large-voiced Italian baritones so much in evidence during the first part of the twentieth century, Carlo Galeffi left a legacy of important recordings to supplement the memories of appreciative audiences. The singer's reputation was further secured by his being a prominent artist at several major theaters during an important period in operatic history. While his was not the brazen instrument of a Ruffo or a Stracciari, its slightly woolly timbre was guided by a bold, imaginative musical mind. Following private study, Galeffi made his stage debut at Rome's Teatro Adriano singing Enrico in a 1904 production of LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR. Although appreciated for his promise in Rome, Galeffi awaited acclaim at Naples' Teatro San Carlo a half decade later when his Rigoletto and Amonasro met with critical favor. Over the next few years, he sang in several world theaters in Europe, South America, and North America, including the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In 1912, he began forging his most important theatrical relationship when he made his La Scala debut as Rodrigo. Thereafter, he was heard as a leading baritone over 17 seasons, concluding his association in 1938 when he was 56. In Chicago, where Giacomo Rimini was all but house baritone, Galeffi was heard between 1919 and 1921. He also resumed performances in Buenos Aires late in his career, appearing there as late as 1952. During his career, Galeffi became known for his performances of the great Verdi baritone roles where his adherence to an unfailing legato and skillful use of vocal coloring placed him among the singing elite. In addition to established roles, Galeffi performed in contemporary works; in particular, he sang in the premieres of two works by Mascagni: ISABEAU and PARISINA, operas favored in Italy but seldom heard elsewhere. Several recordings assure that Galeffi's name will not become a mere historical footnote. His elder Germont to the Violetta of Mercedes Capsir rivals his powerful work in a recording of ANDREA CHÉNIER made with Lina Bruna Rasa. Likewise, Galeffi's Tonio in a PAGLIACCI with tenor Francesco Merli and soprano Rosetta Pampanini is a vivid, suavely sung performance that is undiminished in impact."
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
"The shadowy figure of Lorenzo Molajoli is a mystery in the annals of opera. Nothing seems to be known of his career other than that he conducted many recordings in the 1920's and 1930's, mostly for Columbia in Milan. From the evidence of those discs he was clearly a very competent musician, experienced at handling large orchestral and vocal forces - and yet where? What can be established is that he served with considerable distinction as the house conductor in Milan for Italian Columbia, recording complete operas and accompanying a large number of singers, in addition to making recordings of a number of operatic overtures. Molajoli conducted twenty complete or abridged operas for Columbia between 1928 and 1932."
- Paul Campion