OP0331. CARMEN (in Italian), Live Performance, 1945, w.Bellezza Cond. Rome Opera Ensemble; Ebe Stignani, Rina & Beniamino Gigli, Gino Bechi, etc. (Italy) 2-Urania 22.103. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 8025726221036
“Ebe Stignani sang more than one hundred roles in her career that lasted more than three decades! Her last appearance was as Ulrica in Florence in 1957. Clemens Höslinger wrote: ‘The mezzo-soprano Ebe Stigani had a prominent place in the ensemble of La Scala between the wars. She was a versatile, devoted artist, a lively and passionate actress, a singer with an expansive, metallic voice, eminently suited for dramatic, high-strung roles such as Amneris, Eboli, Carmen and Santuzza. Veracity of expression, absolute dedication to the artistic task in hand were characteristic of her personality….’ Her voice is glorious.”
- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile
“For a remarkably long period of time that spanned the second quarter of the 20th century…Beniamino Gigli was the most important Italian lyric tenor of the operatic world. Yes, there were others, notably Tito Schipa, but none with the breadth of repertoire and the career longevity of Gigli. And then there was that unique sound – melting, sweet, unlike any other….This is, without question, one of the most important and satisfying singers of the 20th century.”
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE, July/Aug., 2005
"GINO BECHI, like many singers of his generation, was denied a full international career because of the Second World war. The Italian baritone, whose voice was at its splendid best during the 1940s, was not heard in London until September 1950, when he sang in Otello and Falstaff at Covent Garden during a visit - the first since the war - of La Scala from Milan. Although then only 37 years old, Bechi was accused by the critics of having little voice left. The audience, however, starved of the authentic sound of Italian voices in Italian opera, was less dismissive and greatly enjoyed the baritone's Iago and Falstaff; Bechi was never a subtle artist, but there was a generosity in his singing that captivated the listener. Born and educated in Florence, Gino Bechi made his stage dï¿½but in 1936 at Empoli as Germont pï¿½re in LA TRAVIATA. The following year he was engaged at the Rome Opera, where in 1939 he sang Vladimir in the premiere of MONTE IVNOR by Lodovico Rocca. He first sang at La Scala in January 1940, as Don Carlo in LA FORZA DEL DESTINO, and appeared there throughout the war years. His repertory included Verdi roles such as Renato (UN BALLO IN MASCHERA), Don Carlo (ERNANI)and Rigoletto, but also Rossini's Figaro, Severo in POLIUTO, Sir Richard in I PURITANI and Jokanaan in SALOME (in Italian). He sang in Florence, notably in the premiere of Alfano's DON JUAN DE MANARA in the Maggio musicale of 1941.
When La Scala reopened in 1946, Bechi sang the title-role of NABUCCO, one of his finest roles, which he repeated at the San Carlo, Naples in 1949, with Maria Callas as Abigaille. After the visit to Covent Garden by La Scala, Bechi continued to sing with the company until 1953; his last appearance was as Alfonso in LA FAVORITA.
On his retirement from the stage in the early 1960s, Bechi taught in Florence. He made many recordings and can he heard at the peak of his career, when his voice was in full bloom, as Alfio in CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA, conducted by Mascagni; he also recorded Figaro, Renato and Gerard (ANDREA CHENIER), while the Naples NABUCCO with Callas was captured 'live' on disc."
- Elizabeth Forbes, THE INDEPENDENT, 16 Feb., 1993