OP3037. LA CENERENTOLA, recorded 1954, w.Gui Cond. Glyndebourne Festival Ensemble; Marina de Gabarian, Alda Noni, Fernanda Cadoni, Juan Oncina, Ian Wallace, Sesto Bruscantini, etc. (Germany) 2-EMI 64183, incl.86pp. Elaborate Libretto-Brochure. Long out-of-print, Final copy! - 077776418322
“Richard Strauss personally selected Alda Noni to sing Zerbinetta in a famous performance of his opera ARIADNE AUF NAXOS in Vienna to mark his 80th birthday in June 1944.
She was described by commentators as a soprano leggiero, a singer with a light, agile voice, possessing brilliant-sounding vowel projection, but nevertheless with a warmth to her vocal timbre that is not always to be found in other coloratura sopranos. She was also widely praised for her comic roles, playing parts such as Clorinda in Rossini’s LA CENERENTOLA with what Harold Rosenthal once described as a ‘delicious sense of humour’.
Making her début as Rosina in Rossini’s THE BARBER OF SEVILLE in Ljubljana in 1937, and after a number of appearances in Yugoslavia, she joined the Vienna State Opera in 1942; her German accent was widely admired. The ARIADNE occasion came at a time when Strauss’s relations with Hitler were under severe strain, to the point where the Führer had decreed that there should be no celebration of the composer’s birthday. Wiser counsel prevailed, however, and the conductor Karl Böhm mounted a small Strauss festival that included a new production of ARIADNE that also featured the 25-year-old Irmgard Seefried. The occasion was broadcast by Austrian radio and released on disc some 20 years later by Deutsche Grammophon, leading critics to compliment Alda Noni’s ‘piquant, sparkling, wonderfully accurate Zerbinetta’; for many decades hers was regarded as the foremost interpretation of the role.
In 1946, after leaving Vienna, Alda Noni appeared as Norina with the New London Opera Company in Donizetti’s DON PASQUALE in Jay Pomeroy’s season at the Cambridge Theatre, with the baritone Mariano Stabile, a favourite with British audiences. Her performance was particularly amusing, noted Desmond Shaw-Taylor, because of ‘the suddenness of her transitions from drooping convent lily to mischievous wildcat’. By 1949 she was a member of La Scala, appearing with the company at Covent Garden the following year. She returned to Glyndebourne in 1951 to sing Despina in Mozart’s COSÌ FAN TUTTE and Blonde in DIE ENTFÜHRUNG AUS DEM SERAIL, giving the character ‘a spitfire sharpness’. She also made a widely-admired appearance in Glyndebourne’s first LA CENERENTOLA in 1952, which the company toured to Berlin in 1954.
Alda Noni moved to Cyprus many years ago, occasionally appearing on the judging panels of international singing competitions.”
- THE TELEGRAPH, 24 May, 2011
“Juan Oncina was a Spanish tenor, one of the leading tenore di grazia of the 1950s. He began his vocal studies in Barcelona with Mercedes Capsir, and later in Milan, with Oltrabella. He made his début in Barcelona, as des Grieux in MANON, in 1946. The same year he made his Italian début in Bologna, as Almaviva in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA. He appeared in 1949, as Paolino in IL MATRIMONIO SEGRETO, in Paris, and in Cherubini's L'OSTERIA PORTOGHESE and Lully's ARMIDE, in Florence.
The turning point in his career came in 1952, when he made his début at the Glyndebourne Festival, where he was to appear until 1961.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
"During a career that lasted 45 years, the Italian bass-baritone Sesto Bruscantini acquired an enormous repertory that was notable for the range, musical and dramatic, of the roles that he sang, as well as for their number.
Bruscantini first sang at La Scala in 1949, as Don Geronimo in Cimarosa's IL MATRIMONIO SEGRETO, a role that would remain in his repertory for many years. In 1950 he sang Selim in Rossini's IL TURCO IN ITALIA in Rome, with a stellar cast including Maria Callas, Cesare Valletti and Mariano Stabile. The following year he returned to La Scala for Dr Dulcamara in Donizetti's L'ELISIR D'AMORE, another role he would still be singing some 40 years later. He also sang Masetto in DON GIOVANNI. Nineteen fifty-one was the 50th anniversary of Verdi's death, and Bruscantini sang Baron Kelbar in UN GIORNO DI REGNO for Radio Italiana.
In the summer of 1954 he sang Rossini's Figaro in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA at Glyndebourne, and with the company in Edinburgh took on Raimbaud in Rossini's LE COMTE ORY. Meanwhile he was appearing in Genoa, Venice, Naples, Rome, Bologna and Lisbon. At Glyndebourne in 1955 he sang both Mozart's and Rossini's Figaro, demonstrating his ability to bring a character to vibrant life. He felt that the mainspring of Rossini's Figaro was money and that of Mozart's was love; a third Figaro, in Paisiello's IL BARBIERE, which was also in his repertory, was the only one motivated, like the Beaumarchais original, by revolutionary politics. Bruscantini gained another baritone role in Malatesta in DON PASQUALE at Genoa in 1958, but early the following year reverted to Pasquale at La Scala.
In 1959 he appeared at the Royal Festival Hall in London with the Virtuosi di Roma in three 18th-century comic operas, as Uberto in Pergolesi's LA SERVA PADRONA, as Don Bucefalo in Fioravanti's LE CANTATRICI VILLANE and in the title role of IL MAESTRO DI CAPPELLA by Cimarosa, a one-man show that peopled the stage with imaginary characters and always brought the house down.
Nineteen-sixty was a milestone in Bruscantini's career. In February and March he sang the four baritone villains in LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN and Marcello in LA BOHEME at the San Carlo, Naples. Then at Glyndebourne in the summer he took on his first Verdi baritone role, Ford in FALSTAFF. He repeated Ford at Edinburgh and in Turin, then in November he made his US debut in Chicago as Rossini's Figaro.
In 1962 he sang his first Posa in Verdi's DON CARLOS at Trieste. Other high baritone roles followed, and in 1965 another new Verdi role, Renato in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, at Florence. This was followed by Giorgio Germont in LA TRAVIATA at Genoa in 1966. The elder Germont was perhaps Bruscantini's finest baritone characterisation. He sang it in Madrid, Chicago, Palermo and Parma, during the 1960s, and at Marseilles in 1971, with Renata Scotto as Violetta. The depth of feeling he brought to the role was unique in my experience, and he evoked enormous sympathy for a personage who is often taken to be unsympathetic.
He continued to sing throughout the 1980s, appearing at Salzburg three years running as Don Alfonso in COSI FAN TUTTE. At Houston he took on Dr Bartolo in IL BARBIERE. He returned to Glyndebourne in 1985 as Don Magnifico. In 1986 he sang Iago (never one of his best roles) at Dallas in an emergency and obtained a new Rossini role at Bordeaux, Asdrubale in LA PIETRA DEL PARAGONE. In 1988 he sang Don Alfonso in Los Angeles, the four villains in Madrid. In 1989 he sang Michonnet in Rome. In 1990, also in Rome, he sang a new role, the Magistrate in WERTHER, and sang a final Don Alfonso in Macerata. He was 70. After retiring from the opera stage, he started a school of singing in Civitanova."
- Elizabeth Forbes, THE INDEPENDENT, 11 May, 2003