OP3327. LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, Live Performance, 5 Dec., 1964, w. Silvio Varviso Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Joan Sutherland, Sandor Konya, Nicolae Herlea, Bonaldo Giaiotti, etc. (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-928.
“JOAN SUTHERLAND came, sang, and conquered the Metropolitan Opera House…as Lucia. This mode of putting it means there was never much doubt of her ability to deliver Donizetti's music with distinction. But how it would sound in a theatre that has devoured many another famous voice was something else. This, however, was quickly determined after her entrance aria in the Fountain Scene: broad, fluent, perfectly in pitch, fastidious in style, a treat to the ear and an incitement to the enthusiasm of an audience that filled every saleable spot.
Thereafter it was a matter of sitting back to enjoy a superlative demonstration of vocalism by a grand mistress of the ancient, ever new art. As she developed the part, through the duet with Edgardo, the angry episode with her brother, into the sextet, the accumulating evidence pointed to one thing in particular: this is a voice consistent in timbre through two octaves with scarcely a break - full, ringing, and clear at the top, solid in the middle, viola-mellow at the bottom.
Her ‘Mad Scene’ was a thoroughly studied thing in itself, altogether suited in character to what had preceded, but sufficiently illuminated by highlights to be the shining climax to the whole. Here she allowed herself more freedom in ornamentation than previously, working out delicate traceries of figuration in and around the melodic line, stitching in a bit of petit-point staccato, coasting cleanly down a descending scale, and finally demonstrating her prize beyond price-a perfectly controlled trill that was not a mere glorified vibrato but a swift, even beat of two notes perfectly interchanged. Finally? Not quite. She ended her work with a bright, firm, fully produced high E flat that is still ringing in the ear as this is written….One especially apt incident accompanied an echo effect in the music, in which she turned her back to the audience, apparently listening (to herself)….There is so much of this, however, that one could only say: ‘Well done and welcome, Miss Sutherland; may your prime be long and productive’.
In the old-fashioned way, her entrance was accompanied, physically as well as musically, by her own conductor, the young Swiss Italian Silvio Varviso. There is nothing in the least old-fashioned about his treatment of the score, except a virtuous attention to detail, a well-discriminated distribution of emphasis between pit and stage. “
- Irving Kolodin, THE SATURDAY REVIEW
“Although explosions of enthusiasm are familiar enough, though never common, at the Met nothing comparable is recalled in recent times. There wasn't applause but wild beatings of palms; not bravos but roars of exultant appreciation. There were 10 genuine, unforced, prolonged solo curtain calls….Suffice that with this Australian's arrival, a box-office sensation, a queen among divas and opera history were all made simultaneously. It was simply not possible to find anything to quibble about. Even the creaky old libretto suddenly seemed exciting….No point in complicating the simple fact of a once-in-a-generation eruption of performing genius. Miss Sutherland, tall, completely the mistress of her role, and pretty good actress to boot, was that rara avis, a promised glory that exceeded hopes. She is the kind of talent that old-timers often refuse to believe any longer lives.”
- Robert J. Landry, VARIETY
"Mr. Konya had a powerful, dramatic voice and was most highly regarded as a Wagnerian tenor. But his broad repertory also included several of the major Verdi and Puccini roles, as well as Edgardo in Donizetti's LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR and Turiddu in Mascagni's CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA. Although his Wagner was criticized by some for embodying an Italianate sob, Mr. Konya's admirers prized exactly that tendency toward stylistic cross-pollination. Just as he brought the emotional lyricism of Italian opera to Germanic roles, he sang Italian roles with the big, heroic sound more typically heard in German works.
Mr. Konya studied at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, as well as in Milan and at the Music Academy of Detmold, in northwestern Germany. In 1951 he made his professional debut as Turiddu at the Bielefeld Opera. He remained on the company's roster for three years, during which he expanded his repertory, both in grand opera and in lighter roles."
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 6 June, 2002
“Nicolae Herlea was a Romanian baritone best known for his roles in bel canto opera. During a stage career lasting more than 35 years he claimed to have appeared as Figaro in more than 550 performances of Rossini’s comic opera. The character, who plays cupid in the love-stricken Count Almaviva's attempts to woo Rosina, famously sings the aria ‘Largo al factotum’ as he enters in Act I. It was in this tongue-twisting tour de force that the stocky Herlea never ceased to amaze with his agile acting and note-perfect enunciation. Many compared him with Tito Gobbi who commanded a similar standing to Herlea but to the west of the Iron Curtain. While Gobbi probably had the greater stage presence, Herlea’s musical performances are arguably finer than those by the Italian.
Behind the Iron Curtain he became one of the best-known singers of his day, appearing at the Bolshoi in Moscow and in Siberia. In the West he was more of a connoisseur’s choice. Herlea made forays to other Western opera houses, including La Scala, in 1963. He continued to appear at the Met until 1967, notably in RIGOLETTO where he was noted for his ‘great singing and great acting’, and in LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR with Joan Sutherland.”
- THE TELEGRAPH, 20 March, 2014