OP2570. MACBETH, Live Performance, 7 Dec., 1952, w.de Sabata Cond. La Scala Ensemble; Enzo Mascherini, Maria Callas, Italo Tajo, Gino Penno, Ivo Vinco, etc. (E.U.) 2-Myto 00310. Final Copy! - 0801439903104
“Although he was a composer and a violinist and pianist of virtuoso caliber, Victor de Sabata (born Vittorio) was best known as one of the world's leading conductors, particularly of Italian opera. During the first few years of his career his concentrated on composition. His opera IL MACIGNO (The Rock) was premiered at La Scala in 1917 and was frequently played during the next few years.
Arturo Toscanini (who frequently performed de Sabata's tone poem JUVENTUS of 1919) encouraged de Sabata to consider a conducting career. He began to conduct in 1918, but continued composing as his conducting career gathered steam. He wrote several other orchestral works, mainly with an intriguing mixture of Romantic-era Italian lyricism and dramatic episodes. He soon became the conductor of the Monte Carlo Opera. With that company he gave the world premiere of Ravel's L'ENFANT ET LES SORTILÉGES in 1925. His first performance in the United States was with the Cincinnati Symphony in 1927. He conducted that orchestra through much of 1929, but left to assume a post at La Scala in Milan, débuting there in 1930 with Puccini's LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST. He remained affiliated with La Scala to the end of his life. He concentrated on a broad spectrum of the traditional repertory, plus modern composers like Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel, Puccini, Sibelius, Strauss, and his Italian contemporaries. He was active as a guest conductor, appearing at the Vienna State Opera in 1936 and the Berlin Philharmonic in 1939. He became closely associated with Wagner's TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, leading him to be invited to conduct in Bayreuth in 1939. After World War II he resumed his international touring. He led a special series of all the Beethoven symphonies in 1947 with the London Philharmonic, brought the La Scala company to Britain in 1950, conducted 14 concerts in March, 1950 with the New York Philharmonic in Carnegie Hall, and conducted in several other American cities.
He was known for a precise ear and original interpretations. He had the elasticity of tempo characteristic of the Romantic era. This rhythmic freedom and his unusual interpretations caused him to be criticized in later years as eccentric, which bothered him. Ill health caused him to give up regular conducting in 1953, but not before he led one of the all-time classic opera recordings, Puccini's TOSCA, with Callas, di Stefano, and Gobbi. His conducting at the funeral of Toscanini on 18 February, 1957, was his last performance. He remained associated with La Scala as artistic superintendent from 1953 until his death.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
“In the early 1950s, Gino Penno became known throughout Italy as a highly competent heldentenor singing Siegfried at the Verona Arena and Lohengrin in Rome. He also partnered Maria Callas in Norma, Macbeth, Il Trovatore, and Medea, in various theatres in Italy
In 1951, his career took an international turn. He appeared at the Paris Opéra, the Liceo in Barcelona, the Monte Carlo Opera, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and the Royal Opera House in London.
He was very highly thought of both for his musicianship and his reportedly enormous voice, of magnificent quality.”
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE
“Gino Penno, who sang at the Met between 1954 and 1956, seems better suited to the urgency and desperation of Gabriele Adorno’s scena from SIMON BOCCANEGRA, ‘Sento avvampar nell’anima’. Giuseppe Campora is revealing a voice at once sturdy and supple, always at the service of his high-level musicianship and dramatic sensitivity. In a Met career that spanned 1955 to 1965, he partnered both Lily Pons and Maria Callas in a run of 1956 LUCIAs and the following year sang performances of LA TRAVIATA with Tebaldi and Leonard Warren. In every aria, Campora’s beautiful legato allows plenty of play for rhythmic details, dotted notes and word accents, and his musical intelligence and dramatic instincts are superb.”
- Judith Malafronte, OPERA NEWS, June, 2015
"There is a magnificent grandeur about Tajo’s singing, whether comic or serious….Tajo’s working with the text, coupled with a firmness of tone and a commanding presence add up to an impressive display of operatic art."
- Charles H. Parsons, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, May/June, 2006