OP1688. I PURITANI, Broadcast Performance, 5 Jan., 1952, w.Previtali Cond. RAI Ensemble, Roma; Lina Pagliughi, Mario Filippeschi, Rolando Panerai, Sesto Bruscantini, Franco Calabrese, etc. (E.U.) 2–Myto 00160. - 8014399501606
“A member of the coloratura sorority that enjoyed ascendancy before the emergence of Maria Callas, Lina Pagliughi represented the best of that breed. Declared ‘my successor’ by Luisa Tetrazzini, Pagliughi possessed a clear, beautifully formed instrument that was flexible in passagework and flowing in legato. Unlike the slenderized edition of Callas, however, she was a woman of enormous girth and continued to gain weight during the course of her career. Thus, while vocal display was present in abundance, dramatic verisimilitude was not. On recording, however, Pagliughi's art can be enjoyed without the distraction of physical appearance. Born to Italian immigrant parents in New York, Pagliughi moved to San Francisco before her second birthday. There, she began making public appearances at age seven. Luisa Tetrazzini sought to adopt her, but her parents declined the offer. When Pagliughi moved to Italy at age 15 to study with Manlio Bavagnoli, however, the legendary singer oversaw her training and became close to the young student. Having already graduated from a San Francisco conservatory before her move to Italy, Pagliughi was well prepared musically and could concentrate on vocal polish and learning repertory. For her 1927 début at Milan's Teatro Nazionale, Pagliughi presented herself as Gilda, a rôle with which she would be closely identified thereafter (and which she recorded twice). After an experiment with the rôle of Mimi, Pagliughi vowed to concentrate on the coloratura repertory, even though her voice was substantial enough for lyric rôles. Thus, she kept her instrument supple and trim for the duration of her career, even with having included Violetta among her rôles, a part that grows progressively heavier with each passing act. Pagliughi's equable personality no doubt also contributed to her longevity. A good colleague, one to whom jealousy was an alien emotion, she admired fellow artists of quality and saw in them no threat to her own reputation. In addition to appearances at Italy's major houses, Pagliughi sang at London's Covent Garden in 1938 (her Gilda was regarded as having been beautifully sung) and performed with success at Brazil's São Paulo Municipal Theatre and in Buenos Aires, where she undertook her first Rosina and her first Violetta. Following her formal retirement in 1957, the soprano became a respected teacher.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
“Mario Filippeschi began singing lessons at twenty-three and continued studies for a further seven years, only making a small town début in 1937. Success was fortunately not long in arriving though somewhat serendipitous. Word of mouth led to increasingly important engagements and by the early to mid-1940s he was singing in Rome and on tour. La Scala beckoned after the War’s end and record companies paid him increasing attention – many will know him best from his NORMA with Callas. Nevertheless he was not seduced by the prospect of radically upgrading his repertoire to meet international opportunities; he deliberately kept it small but retained works that he knew suited the voice. He retired in 1961, still only in his mid-fifties, and ran an antiques shop. As Lauri Volpi wrote to him in 1978 – ‘Today you would be the King of Tenors’.
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
“Rolando Panerai, an Italian baritone who sang more than 150 roles at leading international opera houses, made many classic recordings and appeared frequently with the celebrated soprano Maria Callas in her prime, was widely admired throughout a 65-year operatic career for his full-bodied sound and the elegance of his singing. Steeped in the Italian vocal heritage, he sang with supple phrasing and evenness throughout his entire vocal range. If not the most charismatic presence onstage, he readily conveyed authority and dramatic depth and brought a light comedic touch to the title roles of Puccini’s GIANNI SCHICCHI and Rossini’s THE BARBER OF SEVILLE, among many other characters. Though his repertory was extensive, Mr. Panerai focused closely on Italian opera. Earlier in his career, he sang several German roles in Italian translation, like Amfortas in Wagner’s PARSIFAL.
Outlining the requisite qualities of a true ‘Verdi baritone’ in an interview earlier this year with Classical Singer magazine, Mr. Panerai essentially described his own voice: ‘a dark brownish tint like bronze’ coupled with ‘the quality of the metal, which reminds us of the power and strength’. In a 1996 interview with Bruce Duffie for WNIB, a former classical music radio station in Chicago, Mr. Panerai cautioned younger singers about being ‘dragged into’ the characters they portray. ‘I am used to acting with a certain detachment or coldness’, he said. By acting that way ‘you can act better’, he asserted, and more effectively convey ‘what the composer has to say’.
Famous from his recordings and busy in Europe, Mr. Panerai had a lower profile on American opera stages. Mr. Panerai singing Figaro in a production of THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO at the San Francisco Opera in 1958. Famous from his recordings and busy in Europe, Mr. Panerai had a lower profile on American opera stages.
His performances sounded anything but detached. On a 1955 live recording of Donizetti’s LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, a production at the Berlin State Opera conducted by Herbert von Karajan starring Callas, Mr. Panerai holds his own in every gripping moment of the confrontation between his character, Enrico, the head of a Scottish estate in severe decline, and Callas’ Lucia, Enrico’s tormented sister, whom he is trying to force into an advantageous marriage to save the family from ruin. Callas sounds frantic and dazed by her brother’s bullying. Yet below the surface bluster of Mr. Panerai’s Enrico, you hear the panic of a prideful young man who needs his fragile sister to rescue him. Mr. Panerai sang often with Callas during the 1950s, the most important decade of her career, and made several treasured opera recordings with her, including versions of Bellini’s I PURITANI, Verdi’s IL TROVATORE and Puccini’s LA BOHÈME. He called Callas ‘the greatest singer I ever listened to or worked with’ in the 1996 interview.
In 1972, 16 years after the BOHÈME with Callas, Mr. Panerai recorded the role of Marcello, this time with Mirella Freni as Mimì, Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo and Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic. It is the BOHÈME of choice for many Puccini-lovers.
He sang one of his signature roles, Ford in FALSTAFF, on three acclaimed recordings: with Karajan conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra of London in 1956; with Leonard Bernstein leading the Vienna Philharmonic in 1966; and again with Karajan, in 1980, also leading the Vienna Philharmonic. The critic Peter G. Davis, reviewing the last version for THE NEW YORK TIMES, wrote that Mr. Panerai’s ‘dark, vibrant, firm, slightly dry tone has changed remarkably little with age, nor has his characteristic nobility of expression, incisive diction and elegant feeling for Verdian phrases deserted him’.
Rolando Panerai was born the youngest of three brothers on Oct. 17, 1924, in Campi Bisenzio, near Florence. His father, Oreste, ran a shoe factory. His mother was Ada (Paoli) Panerai. Rolando was drawn to music early. He studied at the academy in Florence, continued his training in Milan and made his stage debut in 1946 as Enrico in “Lucia di Lammermoor” at the theater in his hometown.
He never appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, though he was offered some engagements early in his career. But by then he had a family and wanted to stay closer to home. He continued to sing, as well as coach and, in later years, direct operas, through his 70s. In 2011, at 87, he sang the title role of GIANNI SCHICCHI in Genoa. Mr. Panerai attributed his longevity to sensible work habits, giving up smoking in his 20s and eating a Mediterranean diet. He advised younger singers to focus on their artistry and not obsess about a career. ‘It is best to sing well and not become bigheaded’, he said in 1996. ‘The rest comes all by itself’.”
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 30 Oct., 2019