OP0370. I POLIUTO (Donizetti), Live Performance, 7 Dec., 1960, w.Votto Cond. La Scala Ensemble; Maria Callas, Franco Corelli, Ettore Bastianini, Nicola Zaccaria, etc. (Holland) 2-EMI 65448, Slipcase Edition w.Elaborate 141pp Libretto-Brochure. - 724356544826
"Franco Corelli had been singing for well over a decade when he made his Met debut in 1961 at the age of 40. The first attraction in any Corelli performance is the voice itself. Solid and evenly produced from bottom to top, with no audible seams between registers. The middle and lower parts of the voice are dark and richly colored. The top is stunningly brilliant, and never thins out or turns hard. It is a once-in-a-generation kind of voice if your generation is lucky, and in the four decades since his retirement in 1976 we have had nothing like it for visceral power. Some critics complained because Corelli would hold high notes well beyond their value in the score. But if we listen to singers from the past whose careers overlapped with the great Italian opera composers, and who often worked with them, we can easily conclude that the composers expected it. (A recording of an aria from Francesco Cilea's ADRIANA LECOUVREUR by tenor Fernando de Lucia, with the composer accompanying at the piano, exposes liberties that go far beyond anything Corelli ever did, and Cilea echoes those 'distortions' at the keyboard.)"
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE
“Italian tenors are notoriously susceptible to self-love, but Corelli's resistance is well below the average.”
- Irving Kolodin, the SATURDAY REVIEW, December, 1965
“While Ettore Bastianini's career was quite short, it was also distinguished. He was regarded as having one of the finest Verdi and verismo voices of his day, though his vocal gifts were not always matched by an equal musicianship.
Bastianini studied privately with Gaetano Vanni, and sang in the local choir. His professional solo debut was in a concert in Siena early in 1945, and his operatic debut was at the Ravenna opera as Colline in Puccini's LA BOHEME later that year. He sang at the smaller houses throughout Italy and even went abroad to Cairo with a touring company, still singing the bass repertoire, including Mephistopheles in Gounod's FAUST. His La Scala debut was in 1948 as Tirésias in Stravinsky's OEDIPUS REX. During these years, he began to wonder if he was truly a bass, and in 1951, he made his debut as a baritone early in 1951 at the Bologna Opera as Germont in LA TRAVIATA. However, the performance was not especially successful, and he resumed intense studies over the next few months, giving special attention to developing his upper register. When he returned to the stage that summer, he had achieved just that goal, and his high notes were now considered his vocal glory. In 1953 Bastianini performed opposite Maria Callas for the first of many times, as Enrico Asthon in LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR at the Teatro Comunale Florence. That same year he sang the role of Carlo Gérard in Giordano's ANDREA CHÉNIER for the first time at the Teatro Regio di Torino. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Germont on 5 December, 1953, opposite Licia Albanese as Violetta and Richard Tucker as Alfredo. The following January he sang Enrico to Lily Pons' Lucia and Jan Peerce's Edgardo at the Met. On 10 May, 1954, he made his debut as a baritone at La Scala, in the title role of Tchaikovsky's EUGENE ONEGIN with Renata Tebaldi as Tatyana.
In the Fall of 1954, Bastianini joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera where he sang regularly through May 1957. His roles at the Met during this time included Amonasro, Carlo Gérard, Count di Luna, Enrico, Germont, Marcello in LA BOHEME, Rodrigo in Don Carlo, and the title role in RIGOLETTO. He later returned to the Met in the Spring of 1960 to portray several roles including Don Carlo in LA FORZA DEL DESTINO. He returned to the Met again in January 1965 where he spent most of that year singing in several of his prior roles with the company, as well as performing Scarpia in TOSCA. His 87th and final performance at the Met was as Rodrigo on 11 December, 1965. It was also coincidentally the last performance of his career.
In 1956, he made his Chicago debut as Riccardo in Bellini's I PURITANI. In 1962, he made his Covent Garden debut as Renato in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA. Early in 1963, he left the stage for a few months, letting it be understood that he was resting, but in fact, he was undergoing treatment for throat cancer. His return performances and subsequent performances were poorly received, often with booing from the audience, as he was often hoarse, off-pitch, and under-powered. While he was deeply dismayed at this, he still did not speak of his illness; for all except family and close friends, it came as a complete surprise until after the announcement of his death. His last performance was in 1965 at the Metropolitan Opera.”
- Anne Feeney, allmusic.com
"By January 1838, Donizetti was in negotiations with the Paris Opéra to compose two new works. While in Venice for the premiere of MARIA DE RUDENZ he had met Adolphe Nourrit, who for more than a decade had been the principal tenor in Paris. However, Nourrit's popularity was now in decline and he was in danger of being supplanted in the public's affections by a rising star Gilbert Louis Duprez. Nourrit and Donizetti were in complete agreement that a Grand Opera in the style of Halevy's LA JUIVE would exactly suit the tastes of a French audience and provide Nourrit with the ideal vehicle to restore his career.
However, Donizetti's next opera was scheduled to be premiered in Naples, the capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, whose King Ferdinand II was a devout Catholic who refused to allow any representation on the stage of scenes of a religious nature. At the last minute, the King forbade the production. The management of the Teatro di San Carlo were forced to substitute PIA DE' TOLOMEI, and Donizetti left immediately for Paris vowing never to have any dealings with Naples in the future. The cancellation dealt a crushing blow to Adolphe Nourrit's hopes of reviving his flagging career. On 8 March 1839, he committed suicide by jumping from the window of his apartment in Naples. On reaching Paris, Donizetti revised and expanded the opera to a French text which was eventually produced as LES MARTYRS at the Salle Le Peletier of the Paris Opï¿½ra on 10 April 1840. POLIUTO was not performed in its original form until after Donizetti's death."
- Zillah Dorset Akron