OP3371. LA FILLE DU RÉGIMENT (in Italian), Recorded 1950, w.Rossi Cond.RAI Ensemble, Milano; Lina Pagliughi, Cesare Valletti, Sesto Bruscantini, Rina Corsi & Eraldo Coda. (Italy) 2-Warner-Fonit 8573 87493, w. Libretto-Brochure. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 0685738749324
“Since Warner Fonit has been issuing the series of operas that Cetra recorded in the early '50s with a stable of Italian singers, I have been giving them a good listen. Note that the latest issues have the original somewhat flamboyant covers that graced the original LPs and quite good mono sound - far better than the ruinous Everest pseudo-stereo LPs.
As for the performances most were recorded live at the RAI studios in one day with no or minimal retakes and therefore have a rough and ready quality to them. Most of the operas have of course been recorded with top flight casts and conductors. But here is something to be said for the idiomatic 'rightness" of these performances. There is a feeling that the singers have worked together, are comfortable with each other and know the scores inside out. The vocalism is often rough but the feelings are sincere and heartfelt and that counts for a lot. The conductors too share that feeling and often seem to be more interested in getting the dramatic points across than orchestral perfection. My own feeling is that the performances go back to a tradition that is now gone. In any case, I recommend most of them since they are are still the only complete commercial recordings).”
- Z. D. Akron
“Donizetti’s opera has had a chequered history. Its first performance at the Paris Opéra-Comique was indifferently received but completely the reverse at subsequent ones. It had only spasmodic revivals thereafter, such as in 1928 with Toti dal Monte, then in the 1950 with the soprano featured here, Pagliughi, who committed it to disc with Cetra, then Sutherland made the role her own to give the opera a higher profile. The opera is a simple comedy despite, or indeed because of its unlikely plot. Maria has been entrusted by her dying father to Sulpizio, a sergeant in a regiment assigned to a Swiss village. She and Tonio are in love and he enlists to be near her. Recognised by the Countess of Berckenfield (a Swiss Beaconsfield perhaps?) as her niece, she colludes with her guardian to remove Maria from her surroundings to receive an education suitable for her true position and in preparation for a more propitious marriage (to the equally unlikely named Duke of Krakenthorp). Of course she resists and in desperation the Countess turns to Sulpizio for help, at the same time revealing Maria to be not her niece but her daughter. Even that fails and Maria is married to Tonio, by now promoted to an officer.
The music is full of gay melody, plenty of opportunity for vocal pyrotechnics, its style reminiscent of L’ELISIR D’AMORE by the same composer but with debts to Boieldieu, Auber, Adam, and of course Rossini. It in turn influenced both Offenbach and Johann Strauss (there’s hints of FLEDERMAUS - ‘Mein Herr Marquis’ - in the first act ensemble with Maria and chorus ‘Egli è là’). Pagliughi’s coloratura shines though her feel for comedy is somewhat straight-laced in delivery. Valletti has the lightness of vocal touch to match her, while Bruscantini is well on the road of his wonderful career as a buffo bass and as dependable as ever. His diction is the best of the lot. Corsi, as the Countess, characterises it all in the manner of Marcellina in NOZZE, with plenty of military moments such as side-drums, trumpet calls and ‘Rataplan, rataplan’ male choruses add to the colourful style of this charming opera.”
- Christopher Fifield, MusicWebInternational
“A member of the coloratura sorority that enjoyed ascendancy before the emergence of Maria Callas, Lina Pagliughi represented the best of that breed. Declared ‘my successor’ by Luisa Tetrazzini, Pagliughi possessed a clear, beautifully formed instrument that was flexible in passagework and flowing in legato. Unlike the slenderized edition of Callas, however, she was a woman of enormous girth and continued to gain weight during the course of her career. Thus, while vocal display was present in abundance, dramatic verisimilitude was not. On recording, however, Pagliughi's art can be enjoyed without the distraction of physical appearance. Born to Italian immigrant parents in New York, Pagliughi moved to San Francisco before her second birthday. There, she began making public appearances at age seven. Luisa Tetrazzini sought to adopt her, but her parents declined the offer. When Pagliughi moved to Italy at age 15 to study with Manlio Bavagnoli, however, the legendary singer oversaw her training and became close to the young student. Having already graduated from a San Francisco conservatory before her move to Italy, Pagliughi was well prepared musically and could concentrate on vocal polish and learning repertory. For her 1927 début at Milan's Teatro Nazionale, Pagliughi presented herself as Gilda, a rôle with which she would be closely identified thereafter (and which she recorded twice). After an experiment with the rôle of Mimi, Pagliughi vowed to concentrate on the coloratura repertory, even though her voice was substantial enough for lyric rôles. Thus, she kept her instrument supple and trim for the duration of her career, even with having included Violetta among her rôles, a part that grows progressively heavier with each passing act. Pagliughi's equable personality no doubt also contributed to her longevity. A good colleague, one to whom jealousy was an alien emotion, she admired fellow artists of quality and saw in them no threat to her own reputation. In addition to appearances at Italy's major houses, Pagliughi sang at London's Covent Garden in 1938 (her Gilda was regarded as having been beautifully sung) and performed with success at Brazil's São Paulo Municipal Theatre and in Buenos Aires, where she undertook her first Rosina and her first Violetta. Following her formal retirement in 1957, the soprano became a respected teacher.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
“As one of the younger tenors to emerge soon after World War II, it was obvious that Valletti was an artist whose reputation would be made based on artistic and musical considerations….His musicianship and vocal colour made him an ideal interpreter of Mozart rôles, and like Schipa [his mentor], he became a renowned Werther with sensitivity and nuance being the key to his interpretation….he was considered a lyric tenor of the front rank.”
- Alan Bilgora, program notes to Pearl’s THE CETRA TENORS
“Cesare Valletti…was a phenomenon among Italian tenors, an opera singer who was also a stylish recitalist with a large, well studied repertoire of songs....Valletti was a pupil of Tito Schipa but has more affinity with Schipa’s contemporary Dino Borgioli.”
- John Steane, GRAMOPHONE, June, 2008
"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