V0355. FRANCISCO VINAS: Arias & Duets (w. Maria Alessandrovich) from Le Prophete, L'Africaine, Lorenza, Aida, Ballo, Otello, Rienzi, Tannhauser, Die Meistersinger, Tristan, Lohengrin & Die Walkure. (Spain) Aria 1012, recorded 1905-12. Elaborate 21pp. Booklet with Biography in English, Catalan & Spanish. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy.
"Ester Mazzoleni called Viñas 'the greatest Tristan and Lohengrin' imaginable. After all they recorded together and their fascinating Nile duet is part of the set. Indeed Wagner recordings make up for a great part of the discography. And what a joy to hear this music sung by the literally silvery-voiced Catalan tenor - 68 recordings of opera and zarzuela arias, duets and songs are included in this vocal gold mine dating from Viñas' very first session in 1903 to his last ones in 1912.
Viñas was a legendary singer, a pre-verismo tenor in fact and thus without the mannerisms of that singing school. His is a healthy strong tenor with a plaintive quality and excellent enunciation and style. You can't get a better introduction to his art than by this compilation and its liner notes. Simply a 'must' for lovers of great tenor singing and historical recordings."
Rudi van den Bulck, Opera Nostalgia
"Perhaps no better example of ideal voice production could be found for a young singer to emulate than Francisco Viñas; the voice we hear on the records is of a purity rivaled - but not surpassed - only by Caruso. The voice is perfectly free of the throat, easy and natural in emission, and, like Caruso or Gigli, does not have any very obvious vibrato: an example of how a voice should be firm and steady without being 'fixed' in the way Latin ears find so detestable. It is a voice of silver, perhaps, rather than of gold, with the clarion ring of a Bach trumpet on the high notes. Like all the greatest names in singing, Viñas has an individual timbre and style that stamp him as a distinctive and recognizable musical personality. His wonderfully clear and pellucid diction, with limpid consonants and rounded, equalized vowels....
There are not many singers whose entire recorded output I long to hear, but Viñas is one of them: after at long last having had the opportunity to hear all his records, I find that they are all good, and quite a lot of them I shall want to hear again and again. Apart from the beauty of tone and the flawless legato, his singing is distinguished by a high sense of artistic endeavor. In the records of Viñas we hear a bright, open, silvery tone similar to that of other Spanish tenors such as Valero and Constantino and, we believe, also typical of the way Italian lyric tenors sang before the age of Caruso - Marconi is somewhat similar in his more lyrical moments, while Signoretti has something of the declamatory brilliance of Viñas.
Viñas is a master of the legato style, tends to sing deliberately with grandly sweeping portamento, savoring the melody and the words and, especially at the fermate and at significant closes, he likes to introduce long-held and gracefully diminished notes; he also embellishes the vocal line occasionally with affectionate mordents. The extraordinary beauty and eloquence of his singing must surely make his records among the most important, stylistically and historically, among all documents of 19th-century Wagnerian performance practice....the main importance of Viñas' recorded legacy lies in the records from LOHENGRIN, in which he was always highly regarded. These lovely and thrilling records will repay close study with the score in hand, and I do hope that young singers will be able to hear them."
- Michael Aspinall