OP0762. LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, Live Performance, 11 Jan., 1971 (not a broadcast), w.Franci Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Roberta Peters, Franco Corelli, Matteo Manuguerra, Bonaldo Giaiotti, etc. (Slovenia) 2-Living Stage 1051. Final Copy! - 3830025710519
"Roberta Peters, who would sing with the Met 515 times over 35 vigorous years, was internationally renowned for her high, silvery voice; her clarion diction in a flurry of languages; [and] her attractive stage presence. In addition to the Met, with which she appeared regularly from 1950 to 1985 - one of the longest associations of any singer with a major opera company - Ms. Peters was heard at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Cincinnati Opera, the Vienna State Opera, Covent Garden and elsewhere. Known for taking meticulous care of her voice, she continued to sing in recital until well into her 70s, a good two decades past the de facto retirement age in her line of work.
On 23 Jan., 1950, the 19-year-old Ms. Peters stood on the stage of the old Metropolitan Opera House on Broadway and 39th Street in Manhattan. There, in the darkened hall, she sang 'Der HÃ¶lle Rache' from THE MAGIC FLUTE, which, with its fiendish series of high F's, is among the canonical texts of the coloratura repertory. Somewhere out in the darkness was Mr. Bing. 'It was the first audition I had done for anyone, and I was so scared', Ms. Peters told The Chicago Tribune in 1993. 'When it was over he asked if I would sing it again. Then he asked me to do it again. Well, I sang it four times, not knowing that he had silently brought in conductors Fritz Reiner, Fausto Cleva and Fritz Stiedry to hear me'. Peters made her impromptu Met debut 17 Nov., 1951, substituting for Nadine Conner. 'The delightful surprise of last night's performance of DON GIOVANNI at the Metropolitan was the emergency debut of little Roberta Peters in the part of Zerlina', THE NEW YORK WORLD-TELEGRAM's review the next day said. 'The voice came through the big house as clear as a bell, the notes equally bright and focused and the phrasing that of a true musician'."
Ms. Peters was by all accounts one of opera's least diva-like divas."
- Margalit Fox, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 19 JAN., 2017
"On the other hand, I cannot resist sharing a typical diva-like confrontation Roberta Peters had at the Sol Hurok management in the then-shared office of Harold Shaw and Joe Lippman. Early in her career, when all performing artists were obliged to earn their stripes by recital-touring throughout the United States, Joe Lippman had arranged an extended recital tour for her which took her to all possible outposts, cultural or otherwise, many in the mid-West where venues were few are far apart, thus requiring travel via train and therein sometimes in cattle cars. Upon returning to New York she burst into Harold Shaw's and Joe Lippman's shared office lambasting Joe Lippman for her 'ordeal'. She clearly delineated all the indelicacies to which she had been subjected, not least of which was the cattle car experience. It should be noted that unlike other managers, Joe Lippman, to his dying day, never once travelled via air, so he was all-too-familiar with travel conditions of that time. Harold Shaw, an old friend of mine, recounted this meeting with Peters and Lippman which Harold observed first-hand. When Peters finally abated, Joe Lippman, who had spent the time during her outburst twirling his unsmoked and wet cigar in his mouth, removed it briefly to quietly inform her that she was lucky: 'They wouldn't hire you the first time I offered your services'. That finally silenced her!"
- J. R. Peters (positively NO relation!)
"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
"Bonaldo Giaiotti became a fixture at the Metropolitan Opera, where he sang more than 400 performances from 1960 to 1989, mainly in Italian operas. He also performed in other major houses, including the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera House in London, the Teatro Real in Madrid and the Zurich Opera. He was a special favorite at the Arena di Verona, where he appeared for more than 30 seasons.
Oddly, Mr. Giaiotti did not make his debut at La Scala until 1986, probably because of all the time he spent in New York earlier in his career. But he did make a notable Italian debut in 1973, when he appeared in Verdi's I VESPRI SICILIANI to open the Teatro Regio in Turin in a production directed by Maria Callas.
Mr. Giaiotti performed stalwart duty at the Met at a time when both the Met and its Lincoln Center neighbor, New York City Opera, served up a cornucopia of great basses, among them Cesare Siepi, Jerome Hines, Nicolai Ghiaurov and Samuel Ramey. While Mr. Giaiotti may have been outshone by the big names of his generation, keen opera observers knew his value. In 1974, the critic Peter G. Davis, writing in THE NEW YORK TIMES, called him 'outstanding' in his two arias on an RCA recording of Halévy's LA JUIVE, numbers that 'almost every golden age bass of any consequence recorded. I can't think of many other contemporary singers in his range who possess such columnar solidity over two full octaves', Mr. Davis wrote. 'Giaiotti inflects the words with real majesty'.
No matter the assignment, Robert Lombardo, a former manager, said by email, Mr. Giaiotti stood out for his 'consistency and class', both stylistically and vocally.
Mr. Giaiotti was a basso cantante, according to the classification of vocal connoisseurs. That is, his voice was lighter and more agile than a basso profondo. Critics described his voice as resonant, firm, sonorous and rock-solid.
Rudolf Bing, the Met's imperial general manager, was returning from a vacation in the Dolomite mountains in Italy when he stopped off in Milan to discover new voices, as he regularly did. He heard Mr. Giaiotti and hired him for the 1960-61 season, slotting him to make his debut as Zaccaria in Verdi's NABUCCO on the season's opening night - the first time the Met had put on that opera. Mr. Giaiotti went on to sing 29 roles in 28 operas at the house.
Mr. Giaiotti sang into his 80s, giving one of his last performances, at the Casa Verdi, a singers' retirement home in Milan, in 2015. It was a rendition of 'Ol Man River'"
- Daniel J. Wakin, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 19 June, 2018