OP0159. MANON, w.Rudel Cond. New Philharmonia Orch.; Beverly Sills, Nicolai Gedda, Gérard Souzay, Gabriel Bacquier, etc. 3-DG B0002470, recorded 1970, w.elaborate 127pp Libretto-Brochure. Long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 028947495024
"Beverly Sills was the acclaimed Brooklyn-born coloratura soprano who was more popular with the American public than any opera singer since Enrico Caruso.
Sills won the greatest reviews of her career [as Cleopatra in Handel’s GIULIO CESARE, 1966, New York City Opera]. Critics praised her adroit handling of the music’s florid fioratura, her perfect trills, her exquisite pianissimo singing and her rich sound….Suddenly she was an opera super-star. In 1968 she had another enormous success in the title role of Massenet’s MANON. When the production was revived the next year, the NEW YORKER critic Winthrop Sargent wrote: ‘If I were recommending the wonders of New York City to a tourist, I should place Beverly Sills as Manon at the top of the list…".
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 4 July, 2007
“With her vibrant, cheery personality, soprano Beverly Sills always was a favorite of the general public, among the most effective spokespersons the arts have had in America. The child of immigrant parents, Sills (born Belle Miriam Silverman) discovered singing at an early age; at four she was on a morning radio program as ‘Bubbles’ Silverman, and by age seven she had sung in a movie. At 16 she joined a touring Gilbert and Sullivan company. Her most important vocal studies were with Estelle Liebling, who had been a favored soprano of John Philip Sousa. In 1947, she made her operatic début as Frasquita in CARMEN at Philadelphia. She toured North America during the 1951-1952 season with the Charles Wagner Opera Company, singing Violetta in LA TRAVIATA and Micaëla (CARMEN). After singing in Baltimore and San Francisco, she made her début at the New York City Opera, which was to become her artistic home for over two decades. She once again sang Violetta in that début, but soon expanded her repertoire to include a wide range of roles. Among the twentieth century operas in which she performed were Moore's THE BALLAD OF BABY DOE, Nono's INTOLLERANZA, and Weisgall's SIX CHARACTERS IN THREE ACTS. In 1966, she reached international fame with performances as Cleopatra in Handel's GIULIO CESARE. Her performances of Donizetti's ‘Tudor triology’ - ROBERTO DEVEREUX, MARIA STUARDA and ANNA BOLENA, solidified her stature on the international scene. She made her La Scala début as Pamira in Rossini's THE SIEGE OF CORINTH in an edition prepared by conductor Thomas Schippers. In 1975, she made her début at the Metropolitan Opera in the same role; she had already sung Donna Anna in a concert performance there in 1966. Her Vienna début in 1967 as the Queen of the Night in Mozart's DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE was one of her few performances of this role. She regularly sang many other important roles in both Italian opera and in works from other countries.
She retired from performing at the age of 50, with an appearance in Menotti's LA LOCA, and accepted the position of General Manager of the New York City Opera. In 1991, she joined the board of the Metropolitan Opera, and four years later became head of New York's Lincoln Center. Sills sang regularly in concerts and recitals containing the arias from her famous roles. Her concert performance of the first version of Richard Strauss' ARIADNE AUF NAXOS is justly famous, since Zerbinetta's aria in this version is much more difficult than in the revised version.
Her basic voice was a light, high soprano with excellent technique and breath control. She was best heard in roles where fragility of character was paramount, such as Marie in Donizetti's LA FILLE DU RÉGIMENT, Puccini's MANON LESCAUT, and Violetta. By sheer power of character she held her own in operas normally best served by larger voices as well.
Her autobiography was published in 1976 with the title ‘Bubbles: A Self-Portrait’ and was revised in 1981 as ‘Bubbles: An Encore’; another autobiography, ‘Beverly’, followed in 1987.”
- Richard LeSueur, allmusic.com
"Widely admired for his sensitive musicianship, masterly tonal control and impeccable diction in a spate of European languages, Mr. Gedda possessed a lyric tenor voice that shimmered like silver but was no less warm for that. He was one of the most versatile, and professionally long-lived, tenors of his era, with many dozens of roles to his name in a career that lasted until he was well into his 70s - a good two decades past a classical singer's customary retirement age. Over a quarter-century, he sang 367 performances with the Metropolitan Opera, from his debut in the title role of Gounod's FAUST in 1957 to his final performance, as Alfredo in Verdi's LA TRAVIATA, in 1983. But the role for which Mr. Gedda was very likely most famous was Russian: Lensky, the young poet in Tchaikovsky's EUGENE ONEGIN. Reviewing Mr. Gedda in a concert performance of ONEGIN with the Boston Symphony in 1976, Richard Dyer wrote in THE BOSTON GLOBE: 'The tenor's voicing of Lensky's aria - an ideal union of responsiveness to word and musical line, a demonstration of vocal and technical mastery and varied and beautiful tone, and an expression of wise and generous human feeling - was a classic demonstration of why, for some of us at least, operatic singing is the highest achievement of human art'.
Mr. Gedda made his United States debut in 1957, singing Faust with the Pittsburgh Opera. Reviewing his Met debut, in the same role later that year, under the baton of Jean Morel, Howard Taubman wrote in THE NEW YORK TIMES: 'His carriage is tall and straight and his movement buoyant. It is credible that he will attract Marguerite. Even more impressive than his appearance is the intelligence of his singing'.
With the Met, he also sang Anatol in the world premiere of Samuel Barber's VANESSA, conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos in 1958, and Kodanda in the United States premiere of Gian Carlo Menotti's THE LAST SAVAGE, under Thomas Schippers, in 1964."
- Margalit Fox, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 10 Feb., 2017
“Gérard Souzay, the French baritone who was one of the 20th century's finest interpreters of art songs frequently appeared in opera - including New York City Opera and the Met - and was widely held to be the definitive Golaud in Debussy's PÉLLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE. But it was in art song that he made his greatest mark, and not only in the songs of French composers. His more than 750 recordings include classic versions of Schumann, Schubert and Hugo Wolf.
Mr. Souzay certainly did have a proper voice: not huge, but rich in color and tone, supple, sensual and lovely. His reluctance to be stereotyped as merely a French singer was related to the fact that he tended to be eclipsed by his contemporary the German baritone and art-song specialist Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Many aficionados have always preferred Souzay. The difference between the two is crudely outlined in the notion that Fischer-Dieskau specialized in intellectual, text-driven, carefully planned performances, while Mr. Souzay was more of a sensualist, reacting viscerally to the music and allowing it to carry him in new directions in a given concert.
Born in December 1918 as Gérard Tisserand, Mr. Souzay studied with Bernac, Claire Croiza and Vanni Marcoux at the Paris Conservatory, from 1940 to 1945. His opera career didn't begin until 1960, when he made his début in Aix-en-Provence in Purcell's DIDO AND AENEAS, but by then he was already well established as a recitalist and recording artist. Famously loyal to his accompanists, he recorded only with two, Jacqueline Bonneau, and Dalton Baldwin, who was still a student when he met Mr. Souzay. The two began a long artistic and personal association.
‘Simply, music means a lot to me and I feel very deeply what I sing’, Mr. Souzay once said. ‘Sometimes when I sing I shiver. But it's not because I love what I am doing. It's because music moves me to the bones’."
- Anne Midgette, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 19 AUG., 2004