OP1523. DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE (in English), Live Performance, 26 Dec., 1942, w.Bruno Walter Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Ezio Pinza, Jarmila Novotná, Charles Kullman, John Brownlee, Josephine Antoine, Eleanor Steber, etc. (E.U.) 2-Andromeda 5020. Final Copy! - 3830257450207
“[Steber’s] timbre – silvery, of diamond-like clarity – is distinctive and shimmeringly beautiful in the manner of the best German lyric sopranos….and indeed, her finest efforts would almost always bear a Teutonic tinge. But it is in Mozart, with its union of southern warmth and northern clarity, that her special gifts would register most strongly…. Often a delightful touch of phrasing or burst of spirit denotes the superior musician, and the mid and upper voice have a heavenly sheen….Indeed, Pinza’s solos in the second act are of the highest order, rolling out in rich organlike tones….”
- Paul Jackson, SATURDAY AFTERNOONS AT THE OLD MET, p.301
“Jarmila Novotná…was a legendary beauty with an uncanny gift for the stage….She brought a radiance to every role she undertook: her every entrance was like a burst of sunshine.”
- Lanfranco Rasponi, THE LAST PRIMA DONNAS, p.296
“Jarmila Novotná was widely considered one of the finest singing actresses of her time. Her interpretations of such roles as Donna Elvira, Euridice, Manon, Mélisande, Antonia and Marenka were praised for their intelligence and lyrical grace. She also excelled in trouser roles, particularly Orlofsky in DIE FLEDERMAUS, Cherubino in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO and Octavian in DER ROSENKAVALIER. On hearing her American début in San Francisco in MADAMA BUTTERFLY in 1939, Olin Downes wrote in The New York Times: ‘There is grace, warmth, communicative feeling in all that she does’.
She made her Metropolitan début in LA BOHEME in 1940, singing with Jussi Björling. That year Downes also praised her ‘great’ Violetta at the Met: ‘She conceived the music, from first note to last, dramatically, and portrayed the character with an aristocratic sensibility and simplicity. The word and the tone were indissoluble; the phrasing was that of the finest musician’. In her years at the Metropolitan Opera, Miss Novotna sang 193 performances and won consistent praise for her expressiveness and musicianship.
Miss Novotná studied with Emmy Destinn and made her début at the age of 17 with the Prague National Opera. She continued her studies in Milan and became a member of the Vienna State Opera from 1933 to 1938, eventually singing opera and concerts in most of the major houses of Europe. Toscanini brought her to the attention of the Met after she sang Pamina under his direction in Salzburg in 1937. She came to New York in 1940, arriving, she noted years later, the day Hitler marched into Prague. During the war years she recorded ‘Songs of Lidice’, in memory of the victims of the Nazi massacre. The recording presents folk songs of her native land; the piano accompaniments are by Jan Masaryk, the son of the former president of Czechoslovakia.”
- Edward Rothstein, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 10 Feb., 1994
“Charles Kullman was one of the first American singers to establish a career in Europe before returning to his home country in triumph. His successes in Berlin, Vienna, Salzburg and London, and his work with such conductors as Otto Klemperer, Bruno Walter and Arturo Toscanini made it possible for him to join the Metropolitan, where he sang a remarkably varied repertory in 402 performances - 283 in New York, 119 on tour - between 1935 and 1960. Although never one of the greatest opera stars - in part because his international career was hindered in its prime by World War II - Mr. Kullman was a deeply respected artist.
In the late ‘20s there was hardly any domestic circuit for young American singers. Mr. Kullman did tour for a season with Vladimir Rosing's pioneering, English-language American Opera Company, but realized that his best hope for success was to establish a European career. Mr. Kullman auditioned in Berlin for Klemperer, who at that time was director of the Kroll Opera, the experimental wing of the Berlin State Opera. He made his début with the Kroll as Pinkerton in Puccini's MADAMA BUTTERFLY on 24 Feb., 1931. The Kroll Opera shut down at the end of that season, but Mr. Kullman was taken on by the State Opera proper, where he sang until 1936. His tenure in Berlin was cut short by his defiance of a Nazi ban on German-based singers appearing at the Salzburg Festival in Austria, where Toscanini and Walter were attempting to establish an anti-Fascist counterweight to the German summer festivals. Mr. Kullman, who was now singing regularly in Vienna, as well, performed often with those conductors, including Walter's first recording of Mahler's DAS LIED VON DER ERDE and Toscanini's famous productions of Beethoven's FIDELIO and Verdi's FALSTAFF at Salzburg. Mr. Kullman's Met début took place on 20 Dec., 1935, in the title role of Gounod's FAUST.
At the Met, Mr. Kullman's repertory included 33 parts, ranging from Mozart, to mainstream Italian tenor roles, to French operas, to the lighter Wagner. His most frequently sung role was Eisenstein in DIE FLEDERMAUS, which he performed 30 times. In 1956 he accepted a teaching position at Indiana University in Bloomington, but continued to sing at the Met.”
- John Rockwell, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 11 Feb., 1983