OP2790. I Vespri Siciliani, Live Performance, 5 Dec., 1970, w.Schippers Cond. RAI Ensemble, Roma; Sherrill Milnes, Gianfranco Cecchele, Bonaldo Giaiotti, Martina Arroyo, etc. (E.U.) 2-Myto 0010. - 3830257900108
"The Verdi baritone is almost a vocal type in and of itself. Verdi roles require outstanding breath control as well as the ability not only to sing strong high notes, but to sing for extended periods in the upper part of the baritone range. Milnes had both of these, and for a while even considered a career as a Wagner tenor rather than a baritone. His timbre was not to all tastes, but his vocal gifts, musicality, and powerful stage presence made him the leading baritone at the Met, where most of his career was focused.
Milnes made his opera debut with the Boris Goldovsky Opera Company as Masetto in Mozart's DON GIOVANNI. He remained with them for five years, singing many of the major Verdi baritone roles, as well as graduating to the title role of DON GIOVANNI, also appearing at other opera houses such as the Baltimore Opera in 1961. In 1964, he appeared at the New York City Opera as Valentin in FAUST, and made his Italian debut at the Teatro Nuovo in Milan. The next year he gave his first performance at the Met as Valentin, opposite Montserrat CaballÃ© - in her Met debut. In 1967, he created the role of Adam Brant in Levy's MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA. His Vienna State Opera debut in 1970, in the title role of Verdi's MACBETH, brought him to international fame. He made his Chicago debut in 1971 as Posa in Verdi's DON CARLO as well as his Covent Garden debut as Renato in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA."
- Anne Feeney, allmusic.com
"Born in Harlem, the daughter of a Puerto Rican father and an African-American mother, Ms. Arroyo made her debut in 1961 in a small role, the Celestial Voice in DON CARLO. During the 1961-62 season, she proved a trouper at the company by singing various supporting roles in Wagner's RING cycle, including the Third Norn, Woglinde the Rhinemaiden and Ortlinde the Valkyrie.
After a three-year absence, her Met breakthrough came in February 1965, when she sang her first Aida. That October in DON CARLO she stepped way up from the Celestial Voice to Elizabeth of Valois.
In all, she would sing some 200 performances at the Met. Today, Ms. Arroyo still contributes to opera by running the Martina Arroyo Foundation, which presents young singers in thoroughly prepared and staged productions of central repertory works. She remains an inspiring role model to emerging artists."
- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 16 February, 2016
"One of the most enduring and memorable discoveries of my early opera-going years was this outstanding soprano, Martina Arroyo. Having heard her in recital, in concert and at the 'old' and the 'new' Met, in a great variety of repertoire, I can attest to her magnificence in any material she chose to sing, and that if it hadn't been for the Met's and Leontyne Price's iron grip on Aida, Arroyo would have reigned universally supreme in this role. Price's shimmering top, especially early in her career, was indeed unforgettable, but Arroyo had that as well, combined with a beautifully aligned voice and a true Verdi line. Whether it was in Verdi, Puccini, von Weber or Barber, she truly had the voice and style for it all!"
- J. R. Peters
"Bonaldo Giaiotti became a fixture at the Metropolitan Opera, where he sang more than 400 performances from 1960 to 1989, mainly in Italian operas. He also performed in other major houses, including the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera House in London, the Teatro Real in Madrid and the Zurich Opera. He was a special favorite at the Arena di Verona, where he appeared for more than 30 seasons.
Oddly, Mr. Giaiotti did not make his debut at La Scala until 1986, probably because of all the time he spent in New York earlier in his career. But he did make a notable Italian debut in 1973, when he appeared in Verdi's I VESPRI SICILIANI to open the Teatro Regio in Turin in a production directed by Maria Callas.
Mr. Giaiotti performed stalwart duty at the Met at a time when both the Met and its Lincoln Center neighbor, New York City Opera, served up a cornucopia of great basses, among them Cesare Siepi, Jerome Hines, Nicolai Ghiaurov and Samuel Ramey. While Mr. Giaiotti may have been outshone by the big names of his generation, keen opera observers knew his value. In 1974, the critic Peter G. Davis, writing in THE NEW YORK TIMES, called him 'outstanding' in his two arias on an RCA recording of Halévy's LA JUIVE, numbers that 'almost every golden age bass of any consequence recorded. I can't think of many other contemporary singers in his range who possess such columnar solidity over two full octaves', Mr. Davis wrote. 'Giaiotti inflects the words with real majesty'.
No matter the assignment, Robert Lombardo, a former manager, said by email, Mr. Giaiotti stood out for his 'consistency and class', both stylistically and vocally.
Mr. Giaiotti was a basso cantante, according to the classification of vocal connoisseurs. That is, his voice was lighter and more agile than a basso profondo. Critics described his voice as resonant, firm, sonorous and rock-solid.
Rudolf Bing, the Met's imperial general manager, was returning from a vacation in the Dolomite mountains in Italy when he stopped off in Milan to discover new voices, as he regularly did. He heard Mr. Giaiotti and hired him for the 1960-61 season, slotting him to make his debut as Zaccaria in Verdi's NABUCCO on the season's opening night - the first time the Met had put on that opera. Mr. Giaiotti went on to sing 29 roles in 28 operas at the house.
Mr. Giaiotti sang into his 80s, giving one of his last performances, at the Casa Verdi, a singers' retirement home in Milan, in 2015. It was a rendition of 'Ol Man River'"
- Daniel J. Wakin, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 19 June, 2018
ï¿½Gianfranco Cecchele was born in 1938 in Padua, Italy. Even as a child he showed a precocious interest in opera and operatic singing. His interest was steadfast, and by 1963, when he was 25 years old, he decided to take some voice lessons. His teachers were impressed with his vocal potential, and in the same year he won a singing contest organized by the Teatro Nuovo in Milan. His dï¿½but followed quickly, and in the following year he dï¿½buted at the Teatro Bellini in Catania, in a relatively obscure work, a one-act pastoral poem by Giuseppe Mulï¿½ entitled LA ZOLFARA. Possessed of a heroic voice, however, he quickly (within the same year, actually) moved on to La Scala to sing no less than the leading role in Wagner's RIENZI! Nextï¿½and this is all in 1964ï¿½on to Rome and Aï¿½DA. Clearly, this young tenor with a stentorian voice was making a quick and powerful impression on audiences and critics alike. In rapid succession he accumulated a repertoire that included, in addition to Rienzi and Radamï¿½s, Don Carlo, Turridu, Don Alvaro and Calaf. In the following year he appeared at the Paris Opï¿½ra, with Maria Callas, in NORMA. It is hard to imagine a more rapid rise in a very demanding repertoire, and that of course was a double-edged sword. He was, after all, only in his 20's! He reputation spread throughout Europe and he gave 241 performances between 1964 and 1969. Of course, the inevitable happened, and toward the end of the period, around '67 and '68, he seriously strained his voice, causing vocal inflammation. Too many big roles too quickly. He had to quit singing entirely at that point, at least for a while, to undergo a long and painful recuperation from swollen and seriously strained vocal musculature. After a few years, however, he was re-establishing himself, and adding some less demanding roles to his repertoire and singing less often, having learned the lesson that many tenors do. Had he displayed that wisdom earlier on, there would likely not have been an interruption in his career. Also, the fact that he sang very largely in Italy made him an opera singer who, while enormously popular there, was not much known in America. This is also the case with two other fine Italian tenors, Mario Filippeschi and Salvatore Fisichella.ï¿½
- Edmund St Austell