OP1318. L’AMICO FRITZ, Live Performance, 7 Dec., 1963, w.Gavazzeni Cond. La Scala Ensemble; Mirella Freni, Gianni Raimondi, Rolando Panerai, etc. (Slovenia) 2-Myto-065.336. Long out-of-print, final copies! - 608974503369
“The Italian tenor Gianni Raimondi had a prestigious career lasting three decades. From 1956 to 1976 he sang frequently at La Scala, where his partner a number of times during the early years was Maria Callas. His voice, smooth and warm in tone with a good coloratura facility and very strong top notes, was ideal for 19th-century Italian opera from Rossini and Donizetti to Verdi and Puccini and he rarely sang anything outside that repertory, apart from a few French rôles and a couple of modern operas.”
- Elizabeth Forbes, THE INDEPENDENT, 27 Oct., 2008
"Mirella Freni made her operatic début in Modena in 1955, when 19 years old, as Micaëla in Bizet's CARMEN. She later married her teacher, the piano player and director Leone Magiera, resuming her career in 1958 when she performed Mimì in Puccini's LA BOHÈME at the Teatro Regio in Turin, and sang in The Netherlands Opera 1959-60 season. Her international breakthrough came at Glyndebourne, where she sang as Adina in Franco Zeffirelli's staging of Donizetti's L'ELISIR D'AMORE; in the Glyndebourne 1960-62 season she sang the Mozart comic rôles of Susanna in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO and Zerlina in DON GIOVANNI.
In 1961, Freni made her Royal Opera House début as Nannetta in Verdi's FALSTAFF, and in 1963, her La Scala début in another Zeffirelli production conducted by Herbert von Karajan; Freni went on to become one of Karajan's favourite singers, working with him in operas and concerts. In 1965 she made her Metropolitan Opera début as Mimì, and later appeared there as Liù in Puccini's TURANDOT and Marguerite in FAUST; her Juliette in ROMÉO ET JULIETTE ran for 139 performances. The following year she sang Mimì again for her Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company début, with Flaviano Labò as Rodolfo.
From the early 1970s into the 1980s Freni sang heavier Verdi rôles, particularly Elisabetta in John Dexter's production of DON CARLO, Desdemona in OTELLO (opposite Jon Vickers), Amelia in SIMON BOCCANEGRA, Elvira in the Luca Ronconi staging of ERNANI, Leonora in LA FORZA DEL DESTINO, and the title rôle of AÏDA. She also added the Puccini heroines of Manon Lescaut and Tosca to her repertoire, and recorded MADAMA BUTTERFLY and the three rôles of IL TRITTICO.
Freni starred in the 1975 film MADAMA BUTTERFLY opposite Plácido Domingo, with von Karajan conducting and Jean-Pierre Ponnelle directing, and in 1976, played Susanna in the Ponnelle film LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, which also featured Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Hermann Prey.
In 1978 she married Nicolai Ghiaurov, one of the leading operatic basses of the post-war period. Together they helped to establish the Centro Universale del Bel Canto in Vignola, where they began giving master classes in 2002. Following Ghiaurov's death in 2004, Freni continued their work of preserving the Bel Canto tradition, and currently teaches young singers from around the world.
Freni extended her repertoire and style during the 1990s with Italian Verismo, taking on the title rôles of Cilea's ADRIANA LECOUVREUR in Milan, Paris, Barcelona and New York, and Giordano's FEDORA in London, Milan, New York, Torino, Barcelona and Zürich. In 1998, she performed Giordano's MADAME SANS-GÊNE in Catania. During this time she sang in the Russian operas of Tchaikovsky, appearing as Tatiana in EUGEN ONEGIN, Lisa in PIQUE DAME, and Ioanna in THE MAID OF ORLEANS.
Mirella Freni ended her professional career on stage with THE MAID OF ORLEANS at the Washington National Opera on 11 April 2005, performing the teenager Ioanna (Joan of Arc) at 70 years of age.”
"Rolando Panerai was born in Ciampi Bisenzio, near Florence, Italy. He studied with Frazzi in Florence and Armani and Giulia Tess in Milan. Panerai made his debut as the pharaon in Rossini's MOSÈ IN EGITTO at the Teatro di San Carlo of Naples in 1947. Other important debut were as Simon Boccanegra in Bergamo and as Sharpless in MADAMA BUTTERFLY at La Scala in Milan both in 1951. He sang in many rarely performed Verdi opera such as GIOVANNA D'ARCO, LA BATTAGLIA DI LEGNANO, AROLDO, on radio broadcast for RAI in 1951, to commemorate Verdi's 50th death anniversary. Later roles included the great Verdi baritone roles such as Rigoletto, di Luna in IL TROVATORE, Germont in LA TRAVIATA, Amonasro in AÏDA. He also enjoyed considerable success in comic roles making a specialty of such roles as Figaro in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, Leporello in DON GIOVANNI, both Guglielmo and Alfonso in COSÌ FAN TUTTE, roles he often sang at both the Aix-en-Provence and Salzburg festivals. He also excelled as Figaro in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, as both Belcore and Dulcamara in L'ELISIR D'AMORE, Malatesta and the title role in DON PASQUALE. Rolando Panerai has a dark and vibrant voice, and has enjoyed a remarkably long and distinguished career singing Germont as recently as the year 2000 in a French television production of LA TRAVIATA next to Jose Cura and Eteri Gvazava, his voice in very good shape for a man of 76."
- Z. D. Akron