OP1865. IL TROVATORE, recorded 1952, w.Cellini Cond. RCA Ensemble & Robert Shaw Chorale; Zinka Milanov, Jussi Bjorling, Leonard Warren, Fedora Barbieri, Nicola Moscona, etc. 2-RCA 6643, w.elaborate 77pp. libretto brochure. Long out-of-print; Final Sealed Copy! - 07863566432
"This is the classic RCA recording of 1952, with four of the reigning stars of the Metropolitan Opera at their peak, remaining among the very finest recorded versions. The transfer brings out the full beauty and character of all four principals very vividly and are particularly valuable when Zinka Milanov, always an iconic figure at the Met, is here recorded with a purity and firmness that transcends many of her later, all-too-rare recordings. Bjorling is, as ever, superb in his heroic projection, though in a performance with the usual cuts he is allowed only one stanza of 'Di quella pira'. Leonard Warren and Fedora Barbiere are also perfectly focused, with Renato Cellini drawing lively playing and singing from the RCA Victor Orchestra and the hand-picked Robert Shaw Chorale. "
- Penguin Guide
“One of the greatest singers of the twentieth century, [Björling’s] career is well documented in his legacy of recordings and in music literature….His voice serves as a model for singers all over the world."
- Richard T. Soper, NORDIC VOICES
“In the mid years of the twentieth century Jussi Björling could lay fair claim to be the world’s finest lyric tenor. His is what may be described as a central voice – instantly recognisable and, to use a perhaps overworked description, unique.”
- Stanley Henig, CLASSICAL RECORDINGS QUARTERLY, Spring, 2011
"Fedora Barbieri, a dramatic mezzo-soprano celebrated for Verdi interpretations that were extensively preserved on records and film, was gifted with a large, opulent voice. Miss Barbieri was of the same generation as Cesare Siepi, Giuseppe di Stefano, Boris Christoff and Jussi Bjorling. A favorite with European audiences from the 1940s on, she later won acclaim in New York, particularly for her appearances as Azucena in IL TROVATORE, AMNERIS in AIDA, ADALGISA in BELLINI'S NORMA, and in the Verdi REQUIEM.
Her 1950 New York debut itself entered opera history, coming on the night Rudolf Bing first faced his audience as the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera. He opened an era with a boldly ambitious revival of DON CARLO in which Miss Barbieri sang the role of Princess Eboli.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service had turned Bing's entire inaugural season into a cliffhanger days before the curtain rose on it. Acting under the 1950 Internal Security Act, it confined shiploads of arriving aliens on Ellis Island on the grounds that they could be threats to the United States; Miss Barbieri, Christoff and Zinka Milanov were among them.
Miss Barbieri's offense was attending school in Fascist wartime Italy, a circumstance that she stated in her visa application. She and the other soloists were freed just in time for the show to go on.
Miss Barbieri, Mr. Bjorling (in the title role) and Mr. Siepi, making his debut as Philip II, appeared in what Olin Downes of THE NEW YORK TIMES described as an occasion that revealed afresh 'the melodic opulence and dramatic power of Verdi's genius'. Miss Barbieri, he said, was a 'superb mezzo from Italy, with a kindling dramatic temperament'.
Fedora Barbieri made her professional debut in 1940 as Fidalma in Cimarosa's MATRIMONIO SEGRETO. She sang her first Azucena the next night and repeated Fidalma the night after that, a feat that quickly established her reputation in Europe as a masterly interpreter of the Italian repertory at its most demanding.
She sang in Rome, made her debut at La Scala in 1943, sang in South America and went to London with La Scala in 1950. She made an immediate impression at Covent Garden, singing Mistress Quickly in FALSTAFF, and giving one of her stirring performances in the REQUIEM.
She remained a regular at La Scala and sang at the Metropolitan primarily in the 1950s and 60s. Of her many Verdi roles, she favored Eboli in her earlier years, but later leaned toward the lower registers of Azucena and Amneris. She finally found Mistress Quickly best attuned to her voice. Her repertory included 109 roles."
- Wolfgang Saxon, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 7 March, 2003