V0113. JAN KIEPURA: Songs by Stolz, Kaper, Spoliansky, Buday, Rossini, di Capua, Chopin, etc.; Arias from Carmen, Rigoletto, Tosca, Martha, Aida, Turandot & Il Trovatore; Duets with Lotte Lehmann & Esther Rethy (France) Malibran AMR 108, recorded 1932-38. [AMR titles are issued without rear tray-cards] Final Copy!
“Before Kiepura’s modest (but actual) début he had to deal with some competition, namely Dygas and Gruszczynski – the two main tenors at the time in Warsaw. Reportedly, when word got around about Kiepura’s voice, it was especially tenor Dygas who got anxious regarding the newcomer. Dygas was keen on hindering Kiepura’s attempts to break through as a solo singer. Hence, even though Kiepura was supported by his teacher Brzezinski, he began his singing in the chorus at the Wielki Theater in Warsaw. His big début was on February 11th 1925 as Gounod’s Faust. In his biography of the tenor, Jerzy Waldorff describes the performance that evening of February the 11th. Waldorff recalls the sharp contrast between the initial disappointment of the audience due to the absence of Dobosz, and the growing enthusiasm during the performance, which started by stupefaction from the first notes Kiepura emitted, climaxing in a standing ovation at the end. In the following months Kiepura gained popularity singing in Rigoletto, Halka and Cavalleria Rusticana at the Warsawian Wielki Theater.
When he decided to contact F. Schalk, the director of the Vienna Opera House, Schalk was very impressed with Kiepura and offered him the role of Mario Cavadarossi (Tosca), which would make his début at the Vienna Staatsoper. Kiepura was yet again replacing someone, the ill partner of soprano Jeritza. The performance was a fantastic success; the Viennese newspapers labeled him ‘King of tenors’ and even ‘Caruso’s successor’. In light of the success, Kiepura was offered the taxing role of Calaf in Turandot in the same year (15 October 1926) at the Vienna Staatsoper. In 1929 Jan Kiepura debuted at La Scala where he sang Mario Cavadarossi and in 1931 Des Grieux (MANON LESCAUT).
By 1937 Kiepura had married Martha Eggerth, a singer and actress, with whom he appeared in many movies as well as in a production of THE MERRY WIDOW on Broadway, such a success that the production toured throughout the U.S.A. as well as Western Europe, and was sung in four different languages. Kiepura acquired great fame in the ’30s, shifting the emphasis from opera to the big screen. On January the 10th 1938 he debuted at the Metropolitan in New York as Rodolfo in Puccini’s LA BOHEME. Kiepura also sang in TOSCA, CARMEN, and RIGOLETTO at the Metropolitan until 1942. The duke of Mantua was regarded as his best role.
Kiepura’s voice was an outpouring of a rich, warm tone: powerful and generous singing forte, sweet and honeyed when singing piano. Equipped with such an instrument he managed to sing roles throughout virtually the entire tenor fach. He did, however, stay away from the most taxing and heavy roles such as Otello. Besides being successful as an operatic singer he was also a prolific singing movie star. His technique allowed him to sing concerts well into his sixties.”
- Sydney Barker, THE HISTORY OF THE TENOR