V1520. ROSALIA CHALIA: Songs by Camora, Álvarez, Secchi, Arditi, Yradier, de Fuentes, etc.; Arias from Semiramide, Barbiere, Stabat Mater (Rossini), Don Giovanni, Carmen, Faust, L’Étoile du Nord, La Traviata, Ballo, Aïda, Cavalleria & Bohemian Girl. Marston 51007. Transfers by Ward Marston. Booklet features discographic information, photos & extensive notes by Gregor Benko and Lawrence F. Holdridge. Final Copy! - 638335100722
The Emperor of Historic Recording himself - Ward Marston - has made these transfers on his own label. As usual, he doesn’t disappoint. It is not only the archaeological researching to excavate from public and private sources perfect copies which have been rarely or never played but the supreme finesse of his ear in removing surface sound without touching any qualities of the voice - a skill which requires millimetres of perfect aural judgement. The 1900 discs have surface noise aplenty but the voice is as clear as if she were in the room with you.
Sopranos tend to specialise in either the first half of the nineteenth century, crowned by Rossini or the second half where Verdi is king. Chalia serves both admirably. She gets a nice combination of turbulence and sparkle into ‘Ah fors’ è lui’ but her final TRAVIATA aria – ‘Addio del passato’ - comes out as more menacing than menaced. Most impressive of all, is the BALLO IN MASCHERA aria – ‘Ma dall’ arido stelo divulso’ in which she combines dramatic thrust with real beauty of sound as nowhere else on this disk.
There are some charming Spanish numbers which are adequate enough, though here one longs for the voice of Supervia to do justice to their nuances. ‘I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls’ and ‘The Last Rose of Summer’, together with Arditi’s ‘Il Bacio’ are better vehicles for Chalia’s enormous talent. And fortunately, Ward Marston was on hand to bring Rosalia Chalia to our attention and to give us a perfectly focused reproduction of her greatness. Hers is an immediately recognisable, highly individualistic voice. No lover of exceptional voices will want to be without this CD.”
- Jack Buckley, MusicWebInternational
“[Chalia's] combination of extreme virtuosity and sheer reliability was extraordinary even in a time when virtuosity was more common than it later became.”
- Will Crutchfield, Program Notes, Marston's CHALIA
"Rosalia Chalia was born into Cuban nobility in 1866 and despite her family's wishes, she mounted a tremendously successful stage career. She was especially known for her Santuzza, which she sang at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1898 - 1899 Season. But possibly her greatest mark will be her role as the first major operatic star to make a series of disc recordings: the Eldridge R. Johnson Improved Record (Victor) in 1900 - 1901. She also sang for Bettini, Zonophone, and Columbia. Her records are rare and hard to find in good condition. Her voice is extremely flexible with a huge range and supple timbre. She negotiates coloratura passages with breathtaking agility and beauty. Her recordings are spellbinding and each one is a treasure."
- Ward Marston