OP2259. IDOMENEO, Live Performance, 14 July, 1951, w.Fritz Busch Cond. Royal Phil. & Glyndebourne Ensemble;
Sena Jurinac, Birgit Nilsson, Richard Lewis, Léopold Simoneau, Alfred Poell, Alexander Young, etc.; SENA JURINAC, w.Busch Cond. Danish Radio Orch.: Ch’io mi scordi di te? . . . Non temer amato bene, K.505 (Mozart), Rehearsal of 18 Jan., 1951. (Canada) 2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1015. Transfers by Richard Caniell in greatly improved sound, in association with Brüder Busch Archiv. - 625989657825
“Immortal Performances have entered into an arrangement with the Brüder Busch Archiv to restore some of their Busch-directed Glyndebourne preservations….The work of companies like Immortal Performances is to be applauded in making available important historical performances to a wider audience….”
- Chris Ball, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2012
“Urania issued this recording in 2001, in dim but listenable sound. Now comes a much better refurbishment from Immortal Performances, taken from source material in the Brüder Busch archive. Deviations from pitch have been corrected, drop-outs have been repaired; and though Elettra’s ‘D’Oreste’ remained pretty much unsalvageable, the sound is altogether superior to Urania’s. There’s even a small bonus: a performance (with some rehearsal snippets) of Jurinac singing the concert aria ‘Non Temer Amato Bene’ (originally intended for IDOMENEO). The album, in fact, is dedicated to Jurinac, 'one of the great voices of the 20th Century, on her 90th birthday'. (The booklet was evidently prepared before she died in November.)
No texts are supplied, but there are excellent notes about both the performance and its restoration. (One small error: Simoneau recorded Tamino for Böhm, not Beecham.) I still recommend Pritchard’s EMI recording if you want to hear Jurinac, Simoneau, and Lewis in good, clear sound. The soprano sounded better in 1956 than she did in 1951, at least in this role, and Simoneau had become a smoother singer in those five years. Busch’s conducting, more dynamic than Pritchard’s, remains a strong selling point, so anyone interested in the history of Mozart opera productions in the 20th Century should hear the 1951 recording. If you already have the Urania, replace it.”
- Ralph V. Lucano, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, May/June, 2012
“The cast is an exceptionally strong one: Sena Jurinac’s Ilia simply a dream in tonal beauty(with her unique iridescent quality), technical command, suppleness of phrasing and subtlety of expression. Richard Lewis rises impressively to the title role’s considerable technical demands and sings with dramatic conviction and intelligence enhanced by much artful varying of his tonal color. Léopold Simoneau’s Idamante is fully his equal in technical control and tonal beauty . . . Fritz Busch was the best Mozart conductor of his generation – his direction is lean and supple, indeed a model of classical style, refinement and dramatic thrust. An indispensible historical document, and a mandatory upgrade if you have the old Symposium edition.”
- Boyd Pomeroy, FANFARE, May/June, 2012
“The Jurinac voice was capable of a gleaming fortissimo, but it also commanded a wide range of shadings of colour and dynamic. The top notes could be floated with an ethereal purity; the middle and lower registers had a very human warmth….The present release is particularly valuable in presenting her as a Lieder singer….Like such great Lieder singers as Rehkemper, Erb, Janssen, Lehmann or Schumann, Jurinac gives us unforgettable musical phrases….We owe her a great deal – and history has already judged her to be one of the immortal sopranos of the twentieth century.”
- Tully Potter
"Nilsson made so strong an imprint on a number of roles that her name came to be identified with a repertory, the 'Nilsson repertory', and it was a broad one. She sang the operas of Richard Strauss and made a specialty of Puccini's TURANDOT, but it was Wagner who served her career and whom she served as no other soprano since the days of Kirsten Flagstad.
A big, blunt woman with a wicked sense of humor, Ms. Nilsson brooked no interference from Wagner's powerful and eventful orchestra writing. When she sang Isolde or Brunnhilde, her voice pierced through and climbed above it. Her performances took on more pathos as the years went by, but one remembers her sound more for its muscularity, accuracy and sheer joy of singing under the most trying circumstances.
Her long career at the Bayreuth Festival and her immersion in Wagner in general, began in the mid-1950s. No dramatic soprano truly approached her stature thereafter, and in the roles of Isolde, Brunnhilde and Sieglinde, she began her stately 30-year procession around the opera houses of the world. Her United States debut was in San Francisco in 1956. Three years later she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera, singing Isolde under Karl Bohm, and some listeners treasure the memory of that performance as much as they do her live recording of the role from Bayreuth in 1966, also under Bohm. The exuberant review of her first Met performance appeared on the front page of The New York Times on 19 Dec., 1959, under the headline, 'Birgit Nilsson as Isolde Flashes Like New Star in 'Met' Heavens'."
- Bernard Holland, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 12 Jan., 2006
“Richard Lewis, a tenor who excelled in Handel and who also sang in the first performances of several contemporary operas, [was] one of the first English singers to achieve world fame in concert and opera, [and] made his debuts at both Glyndebourne and Covent Garden in 1947, appearing regularly with both companies until 1979. His debut role at Glyndebourne was the Male Chorus in Britten's RAPE OF LUCRETIA. His other roles there included Tom Rakewell in the first English staging of Stravinsky's RAKE'S PROGRESS, but he was also highly regarded for his performances in works by Monteverdi, Gluck, Mozart and Strauss.
At Covent Garden, his portrayals included Hoffmann, Tamino and Don Jose, but he was particularly prized as a performer of 20th-century music. In 1954, he created the role of Troilus in William Walton's TROILUS AND CRESSIDA, the role in which he made his American debut in 1955 at the San Francisco Opera. Mr. Lewis's other premieres included central roles in Sir Michael Tippett's MIDSUMMER MARRIAGE (1955) and KING PRIAM (1962), both at Covent Garden, where he also sang Aron in the first British performance of Schoenberg's MOSES UND ARON in 1965. He was the tenor soloist in the first performance of Stravinsky's CANTICUM, at the Venice International Festival of Contemporary Music in 1956, and he sang Captain Vere in the American premiere of Britten's BILLY BUDD with the American Opera Society at Carnegie Hall in 1966.
Besides contemporary and standard repertory opera, Mr. Lewis appeared frequently in the United States as a soloist in concert works and oratorios, and he was considered to be particularly expert in Baroque music. He was a member of the New York-based Bach Aria Group in the 1960s. In the Baroque repertory, Handel was his specialty, and his recordings of Handel arias were widely admired. Mr. Lewis' last performance was a concert of Handel arias at the Kennedy Center in 1981.”
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 14 Nov., 1990