Ninon Vallin & Miguel Villabella    (Malibran 176)
Item# V0411
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Ninon Vallin & Miguel Villabella    (Malibran 176)
V0411. NINON VALLIN & MIGUEL VILLABELLA: Carmen & Manon – Excerpts; 1956 Interview with Vallin. (France) Malibran 176, recorded 1929-34. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 3760003771761

CRITIC REVIEWS:

“Ninon Vallin…an exceptionally cultured artist [who] made a considerable impression….I was enchanted by the delicacy of her vocal colouring…..”

- Sergei Levik, THE LEVIK MEMOIRS, pp. 130 & 249



“Miguel Villabella, though remembered as a quintessential French tenor, was actually a Basque, born in Bilbao in 1892. His father was a famous Zarzuela baritone, from whom the young tenor learned much, but a move to Paris led to a meeting with Lucien Fugère, doyen of French bass-baritones and musical life in Paris. He made a concert début in San Sebastian in 1917 and his operatic début a year later, opened at the Opéra-Comique in 1920 and thereafter, once established, was seldom heard outside France (he did get as far as Brussels and though he was billed for a Florence appearance it can’t be confirmed he actually appeared). His career wound down after the Second War; his stage career ended in 1940, as he devoted more and more time to teaching, and he died in 1954. He took the expected roles, Don José, Hoffmann, Fernando (in Così), Des Grieux, Rinuccio and Gérald amongst them. He sang under Bruno Walter and recorded Lully, so he was certainly no one-dimensional tenor. What he was instead was an expressive lyric tenor with a fine range, especially at the top where his floated head voice was exceptionally convincing. He was a most stylish exponent of the French tradition, one that embraces a good number of Basque and Corsican singers in addition to Villabella. He is plangency itself in Manon – marvellously floated head voice with admirable breath control (even at the top there is no sense of strain) – and he is noble and virile in Massenet’s Grisélidis. The voix mixte he so effortlessly deploys (essentially head voice and falsetto) is emblematically French and wonderful to hear. His Le Roi d’Ys is notable for richness of execution, latent power, consummate style and portamenti on light head notes. [Villabella is] lyrically elevated and tonally admirable exponent of a vanished performing style.”

- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb-International