OP2237. FRANCESCA DA RIMINI, Live Performance, 16 March, 1961, w.Capuana Cond. Teatro Giuseppe Verdi Ensemble, Trieste; Leyla Gencer, Renato Cioni, Anselmo Colzani, etc. (E.U.) 2-Walhall 0348. - 4035122653489
"When you sing, you have to feel what you are saying.... I actually cried on stage. Once in a while a note would issue forth that was not orthodox. That's why the American critics don't like me. But I don't care. They want music with water and soap."
- Leyla Gencer
“Leyla Gencer was the greatest Turkish opera singer of the 20th century and a singing actor of formidable power and individuality. Although she came from what she herself referred to as a ‘Muslim and oriental’ background, she had the good fortune, as a student in Istanbul, to study with the famous Italian dramatic soprano Giannina Arangi-Lombardi, so that when she went to Italy in 1953, she was thoroughly grounded in the traditions of Italian opera. Gencer was a very beautiful woman, with large dark eyes, a wide, generous mouth and a natural command of the stage. She made her début as Santuzza in CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA at the open-air summer festival in Naples in 1953, and remained a particular favourite with the Neapolitans. Throughout her career, Gencer had a very wide repertoire, ranging from Monteverdi, Gluck and Mozart to Verdi, Ponchielli and Puccini. During her career she sang virtually every soprano rôle in Verdi's operas, but it was especially in the revival of bel-canto works by Bellini, Donizetti and Pacini that she made her mark. To some extent, Gencer shot to fame in the immediate aftermath of the end of Maria Callas' Italian career - Gencer followed Callas as Anna Bolena at La Scala, and in the rôle of Paolina in Donizetti's POLIUTO - the last new part Callas undertook. As Queen Elizabeth I of England, first in Donizetti's ROBERTO DEVEREUX, and then in Rossini's ELISABETTA, REGINA D'INGHILTERRA, Gencer preceded Montserrat Caballé and Beverly Sills, who later recorded the rôles. Although Gencer's career was mostly in Italy, she appeared in the United States, where she made her début in San Francisco as Lucia in 1957, returning there, as well as to Chicago and Dallas. John Ardoin described her voice in a memorable LUCREZIA BORGIA in 1974, as ‘poignant, compelling’ and mentioned the ‘strange colours and deep pathos of her art’. In England she was heard at Glyndebourne as the Countess in FIGARO, and as Anna Bolena. At Covent Garden she was Donna Anna in Zeffirelli's 1962 production of DON GIOVANNI, then Elisabeth de Valois in DON CARLOS. Gencer's most memorable UK appearances were undoubtedly in the title rôle of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda, at the Edinburgh Festival in 1969. The sparks that flew on stage in the confrontation - historically absurd but dramatically thrilling - when Gencer as Mary Stuart ripped off her glove and flung it in the face of Shirley Verrett as Elizabeth I at the words, ‘Vil bastarda’ will surely live in the memory of all who witnessed it. Gencer had no career whatsoever as a recording artist, but many of her broadcasts from Italian radio have now been issued on disc and are a fine memorial to her voice and dramatic ability.”
- Patrick O'Connor, The Guardian, 12 May, 2008
“In 1956, as a result of winning an international voice contest organized by the Rome Opera, Renato Cioni made his stage début at Spoleto, as Edgardo in LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR. Earlier that same year he had appeared as Pinkerton, in a television production of MADAMA BUTTERFLY, opposite another debutante, Anna Moffo. He quickly was in great demand as a leading tenor throughout Italy, making débuts in Rome, Naples, Palermo, Venice, Genoa, Trieste, Bologna, and Catania, etc. He made his La Scala début on 4 March 1961, as Pinkerton, under Gianandrea Gavazzeni. Soon he was also singing outside Italy, appearing in Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, and France. In 1959, Cioni made his American début at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, followed by a concert performance of IL DUCA D'ALBA at Carnegie Hall in New York, which he had also sung earlier that year at the Spoleto Festival. He made his début at the San Francisco Opera in 1961, as Edgardo, and at the Metropolitan Opera in 1970, as Pollione, opposite Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne. Cioni became widely known through his studio recordings of LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR and RIGOLETTO, opposite Joan Sutherland, in 1961. In 1964, he took part in two historical performances, first at Covent Garden, as Cavaradossi in TOSCA, opposite Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi, and then at La Scala, as Alfredo in LA TRAVIATA, opposite Anna Moffo and Mario Sereni, under Herbert von Karajan.”
"[Colzani] may never have quite entered the pantheon of great Italian baritones, but Anselmo Colzani was never that far off. He also had to contend with an era in which the likes of Tito Gobbi, Ettore Bastianini and Giuseppe Taddei bestrode the world’s opera stages….He was in demand internationally too, making his Metropolitan Opera début in 1960, where he played Simon Boccanegra. There was a great deal of pressure on the new arrival, as the Met’s favourite baritone, Leonard Warren, had died weeks before. If Colzani never became the next Warren, he did become a Met regular. He sang 272 performances there over the next 16 seasons."
- James Inverne, GRAMOPHONE, June, 2006