OP0150. OTELLO, Live Performance, 4 July, 1958, Buenos Aires, w.Thomas Beecham Cond. Teatro Colon Ensemble; Ramon Vinay, Antonietta Stella, Giuseppe Taddei, Giuseppe Modesti, etc. (Italy) 2-Istituto Discografico Italiano IDIS 6547/48. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 8021945001855
“No other conductor could possibly have got away with saying: ‘There are two golden rules for an orchestra: start together and finish together. The public doesn't give a damn what goes on in between’. Beecham's talent for aphorism risks overshadowing his achievements as a a musician. But musicians who worked under him - and orchestral players are often a vituperative lot - still recall ‘Tommy’ with extraordinary fondness.
In 1899, Hans Richter, due to conduct the Hallé Orchestra in a concert in St Helen's, fell ill; Joseph Beecham, who was mayor, declared that his prodigiously talented 20-year-old son should step in. From there, the young conductor - entirely self-taught - moved on in leaps and bounds. He founded a Beecham Symphony Orchestra in 1909 and a Beecham Opera Company in 1915. At the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, he conducted the UK premieres of Wagner's DIE MEISTERSINGER and Richard Strauss' DER ROSENKAVALIER, ELEKTRA and SALOME; during the 1930s he presented the greatest singers of the day there, including Lauritz Melchior, Lotte Lehmann and Kirsten Flagstad, raising sponsorship himself. He founded the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1932, and in 1946 the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He excelled in Mozart, French music and a range of German repertoire.
Beecham also faced controversy. His finances and personal life were often respectively precarious and volatile; and he is sometimes criticised for decamping to the US during the war - though Lady Beecham defends him by pointing out that he had long-standing engagements to honour in Australia and the US in 1940 and then couldn't get home across the Atlantic. Before that, in 1936, he had taken the newly founded LPO to Germany, where Hitler was in the audience. Why did they go? ‘He was proud of them’, says Lady Beecham, ‘and he wanted to take them to a country where there were many fine orchestras to show them what a fine orchestra it was’. The story rings of an extraordinary figurative nose-thumbing that only Beecham could have carried off. Dr Berta Geissmar, personal assistant to conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, was Jewish and had fled the Nazi regime for London, where Beecham promptly employed her as his secretary. ‘And he took her with him to Germany’, says Lady Beecham. ‘She was absolutely terrified for the whole tour that they'd take her away. But with him beside her, they could do nothing at all’. At the Berlin concert, when he saw Hitler applauding, Beecham turned to the orchestra and said, ‘The old bugger seems to like it!’ The remark went out on the radio across Europe. Had Beecham really forgotten that the concert was being broadcast?”
- THE GUARDIAN, 6 April, 2001
"The most famous Chilean opera singer was Ramón Vinay (1911–96), who began as a tenor and later became a baritone. He had an important international career, most famously as Otello on the brilliant recording led by Toscanini, who said, 'He is a complete artist, magnificent and unsurpassed in roles which require power and violence. At present time no other artist comes near Vinay’s interpretation of Otello'. Vinay sang some 170 performances at the Met in heroic roles in French, Italian and German, was a famous Tristan at Bayreuth, and sang Tannhäuser and roles in the Ring Cycle."
- Santiago Rodríguez, Teatro Municipal
"Taddei is splendid, one of Italy’s greatest baritones, with a voice rich and powerful as well as gorgeous…..What a pity Taddei never had a major career at the Met….His great Verdi singing and acting at age 69 [while at the Met] would put many baritones half his age to shame.”
- Michael Mark, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Sept./Oct., 2012