OP3434. L'AMORE DEI TRE RE (Montemezzi), Live Performance, 15 Feb., 1941, w.Montemezzi Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Grace Moore, Ezio Pinza, Charles Kullman, Richard Bonelli, Alessio de Paolis, etc. [A vivid demonstration of all that is missing in opera performances of today! This verismo jewel belongs in every operatic collection!] (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-1277. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
"Some of the most memorable nights in this country's opera houses have been occupied with impassioned performances of an opera that today suffers from a lack of imaginative singing, conducting and stage direction. It is Italo Montemezzi's L'AMORE DEI TRE RE.
Written in 1912, its dramatic sweep and lyric beauty are in the direct line of Verdi's OTELLO and PUCCINI'S LA BOHEME. Montemezzi's orchestra is marked with the same rich texture that enhances Verdi's great masterpiece, and his singers are given melodic lines that soar like the most famous passages of Butterfly, Tosca, Mimi and Rodolfo. In addition, Montemezzi's opera sets a play by Sem Benelli that is in itself luminous and moving even without a note of music. It is a part of this opera's greatness that its composer found music worthy of the post-drenched play.
Thirty years ago, just as [American] historic performances were ending, Montemezzi came to this country to give a special aura to performances he conducted. He brought the best out of Grace Moore. L'AMORE DEI TRE RE is not an opera that yields up its proven gold except to choice artists who care and who are given ideal conducting and direction."
- Paul Hume, THE WASHINGTON POST, 26 June, 1977
"In its way, L'AMORE DEI TRE RE is an ideal music-drama. Few indeed are the operas that may be compared with it for sheer loveliness of sound, for adept craftsmanship, subtlety and graceful blending of drama with music.
No one needs to be reminded that among the streamlined wing of Metropolitan sopranos, Miss Moore has an extra high quotient of eye-appeal. She is also a personality, a singer who can and does act with both her voice and her body.
With the proper role, therefore, and without the dramatic over-emphasis which Miss Moore has been known to indulge, she is certain to give a performance of magnetism. Fiora is that sort of role. She sang it charmingly, negotiating Montemezzi's sensuous music easily and surely. Of the love duet in the second act, it is necessary only to say that the already high temperature of the music was raised a good deal further. Miss Moore did not exaggerate Fiora from the dramatic point of view, aside from a little too much posturing as she ascended to wave her scarf from the battlements. And how beautifully she wore Fiora's crown and mantle - one of the richest costumes in which any heroine ever met operatic death.
Ezio Pinza is to be credited with another superlative characterization. His Archibaldo is extraordinarily gripping, sung with mastery of style and absolute understanding of the dramatic nature of the part. Nor was he ever in better form vocally.
L'AMORE DEI TRE RE is quite remarkable because it sounds very fresh, although composed just before the first World War, a period which artistically now seems deep in the past. It was one of several scores which marked the passing of an epoch, the epoch of Richard Strauss and Mahler and Debussy, of the late musical romanticists and the impressionists.
Thoroughly Italian in the substance of the music, it yet reveals a certain international character in its orchestration. Montemezzi was influenced by Wagner, and in mood and dramatic restraint by Debussy of PELLEAS ET MELISANDE. Once in a while you hear little orchestral details to remind you of Strauss. Here is music warm and colorful and passionate, not torrential or epic as with Wagner, but of a soft, reflective beauty, idealized if you like. Great it probably is not, though Montemezzi achieved in the passages from the death of Fiora to the end of the second act, an eerie, other-worldly effect astonishingly imaginative and approaching greatness.
Mr. Montemezzi's conducting must have drawn from singers and orchestra just the results he desired. At least he produced an evening of luscious sonority, and a performance of power and fascination."
- Cyrus Durgin, THE BOSTON GLOBE, April, 1941
"This set is of great historical interest. It is a Met broadcast from 1941 with the composer conducting and with the monumental Ezio Pinza as the old, blind king Archibaldo. His is an epic performance, filled with grief, rage, and beauty. Grace Moorefs Fiora has a nice biting edge and her sound is pretty, but the role needs more heft. Montemezzi's leadership, and the playing of the Met Orchestra, can't be faulted."
- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
"L'AMORE DEI TRE RE remained a firm favourite in the States until the late fifties. No great bass could afford to be without Archibaldo in his repertoire, while glamorous singing actresses competed with each other as Fiora. Even though Montemezzi doesn't give his heroine an aria, her music is shamelessly sexy, while the scenes between Fiora and Avito rank among the most erotic music ever penned. The opera's subsequent neglect in the theatre is regrettable, though its discography - small if distinguished - should redress the balance."
- Tim Ashley, ClassicalSource.com
"It is Ezio Pinza who easily walks away with the vocal honours. As the blind Archibaldo, his magnificent voice radiates majesty and authority. It is unlikely that the role has ever been better sung."
- Vivian A. Liff, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Oct., 2003