OP2908. LES HUGUENOTS, Live Performance, 14 May, 1969, Carnegie Hall, w.Giovanetti Cond. American Opera Society Ensemble; Angeles Gulin, Beverly Sills, Kay Creed, Jacqueline Pierce, Tony Poncet, Justino Diaz, Joshua Hecht, etc. (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL 33-217. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
"Maria de los Angeles Gulin Dominguez made her operatic debut in Montevideo in 1963, as the Queen of the Night in THE MAGIC FLUTE, as last minute replacement. She then returned to Europe where she sang mostly in Spain and Italy in roles such as Lucia, Gilda and Violetta. After winning the Busseto Verdian Voices Competition in 1968, she turned to more dramatic roles and specialized in early Verdi works. Gulin's repertoire included OBERTO, NABUCCO, I DUE FOSCARI, GIOVANNA D'ARCO, ATTILA, ALZIRA, IL CORSARO, LUISA MILLER, STIFFELIO, AROLDO, I VESPRI SICILIANI, SIMON BOCCANEGRA, UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, LA FORZA DEL DESTINO and AIDA. Her repertoire also included roles in Rossini's LA DONNA DEL LAGO, Bellini's BEATRICE DI TENDA and NORMA, Spontini's FERNAND CORTEZ, Meyerbeer's LES HUGUENOTS, Ponchielli's LA GIOCONDA, Rachmaninoff's FRANCESCA DA RIMINI, de Falla's LA VIDA BREVE, Giordano's ANDREA CHENIER and Puccini's TURANDOT
Gulin's voice was rich and large, but capable of agility. Her career was cut short in 1987 due to serious health problems. She died in Madrid. She was rediscovered through the appearance of several recordings of her live performances.
Beverly Sills, the acclaimed Brooklyn-born coloratura soprano who was more popular with the American public than any opera singer since Enrico Caruso.
Sills won the greatest reviews of her career [as Cleopatra in Handel's GIULIO CESARE, 1966, New York City Opera]. Critics praised her adroit handling of the music's florid fioratura, her perfect trills, her exquisite pianissimo singing and her rich sound.
Suddenly she was an opera super-star. In 1968 she had another enormous success in the title role of Massenetï¿½s MANON. When the production was revived the next year, the New Yorker critic Winthrop Sargent wrote: 'If I were recommending the wonders of New York City to a tourist, I should place Beverly Sills as Manon at the top of the list'."
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 4 July, 2007
“Vezzani clearly had the better and more pure style and Luccioni the more sensuous sound and more metal, but it was Poncet (The Last of the French ‘fort ténors’) who kept those Meyerbeer operas in the repertoire at a time when so called serious critics and managers thought them old trash. Lucky for us in the eighties some singers realized what a gap of operatic history was disappearing (and what possibilities for success) and though not common, a lot of revivals have proven these operas to be a treasure trove. But none of the tenors after Poncet (surely not in France) were able to step into his vocal shoes as most of them were spintos at their best. Tony Poncet was indeed the last ‘fort-ténor’.
Nowadays one is happy when a few tenors turn up at a singing contest, but in those days it was not strange to pass judgment on hundreds of hopefuls of that most rare vocal category. To win the fort-ténor prize Poncet sang ‘Céleste Aïda’ and ‘Supplice infâme’ (‘Di quella pira’). There exists a live recording of the competition which is the first recording of Poncet’s voice. The sound is unmistakably Poncet’s with top notes blazing forth, but at the same time one sits up and takes note of his purity of style, not always one of his best qualities later on. He sings the ‘Celeste Aïda’ as a real love song with delicate shades of mezza-voce and piano, though of course clinging to the traditional high B at the end. Abe Saperstein (the famous boss of the Harlem Globetrotters, the black basket ball team) took Poncet with him to the U.S., promised him extensive concert engagements and probably some operatic ones as well
He started with a concert in Lyon, France’s second city, in January 1953. A few days later he made his official opera début at the municipal theatre of Avignon. It must have been quite an occasion for Poncet, as he had to sing the roles of Turiddu and Canio at the same time, no mean feat. In June 1956, he had an audition before Georges Hirsch, the general manager of the two Paris Opera Theatres. Hirsch realized Poncet’s potential and helped him improve his musical and scenic abilities. He understood the problems of Poncet’s height and decided that lack of centimetres can be an asset when singing Canio, a poor clown and a cuckolded husband. In January 1957 Poncet made his début at the Opéra-Comique and scored a triumph. A serious critic like Roland Mancini tells us that one of the two most intense ovations he ever heard at a début at the theatre belongs to the tenor (Robert Massard got the other one in IL BARBIERE). Then Poncet made his début at the Opéra itself in the one aria-role of DER ROSENKAVALIER, an opera where it is plausible that the Marschallin has all kind of strange looking servants and so a very small tenor can fit easily in. Poncet was more than ably partnered by some of France’s best singers like Andrea Guiot, Gabriel Bacquier, Jean Borthayre at the Comique and Crespin at the Opéra. From 1958 on he no longer had to look for performances as theatres realized his talents and his fast growing popularity due to his first recordings. Philips France recorded him at the end of 1957 in a long French selection of Lehar’s DAS LAND DES LÄCHELNS together with soprano Renée Doria. The operetta always was a hit in France and all important tenors and high baritones recorded it (Luccioni, Vanzo, Botiaux, Dens etc). The recording was a huge success. This is already vintage Poncet as we will get to know him in his subsequent recorded and some live performances. The voice sounds huge (and it was huge). It is dark-hued as Spanish tenor voices often are and the timbre is not conventionally beautiful. Some people will even think the timbre somewhat ugly as it is grainy timbered but those are the ones that will not like a voice as Pertile either. But Poncet doesn’t chop up his phrases; he has legato and can sing mezza-voce though piano is not his forte. Anyway the record told French tenor buffs that at last here was a successor of Affre, Granal, Verdières, Luccioni and Vezzani. Always generous to a fault, he helped Toulon out on the 21st of December 1958 when their announced tenor fell ill. He sang Canio at the matinee and in the evening he appeared as Rodolfo.
By 1969 one notices far less performances than usual with one rather (in)famous occasion: a concert performance at Carnegie Hall of LES HUGUENOTS, known for the hysterical outbursts of applause by the fans of Beverly Sills [OP2908]. Americans were not impressed by Poncet. After a long illness Poncet died on 13 November of 1979, not yet sixty-one. Poncet was not much of an actor but how could he be with his [lack of] height in such heroic roles. He wore a pair of very high heels that, however, didn’t much improve the situation, and one of his not very nice nicknames was ‘Puss in boots’. He unashamedly milked the audience with applause.”
- Jan Neckers
"Justino Diaz is a Puerto Rican operatic bass-baritone. In 1963, Diaz won an annual contest held at the Metropolitan Opera of New York, becoming the first Puerto Rican to obtain such an honor. On 29 March, 1963, Diaz won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, becoming the 'first' Puerto Rican to obtain such an honor. As a consequence, Diaz made his Metropolitan debut in 1963 in Verdi's RIGOLETTO as Monterone. Among the opera houses in which Diaz has made presentations are La Scala, Paris Opéra, Vienna Staatsoper, Salzburg, New York City Opera, Spoleto Opera, Rome Opera, The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, the Zarzuela Theater of Madrid, Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu and others. In 1966 he helped to inaugurate the new Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center by starring in the opening night performance of ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA by Samuel Barber."
- Z. D. Akron