V1525. EUGENIA BURZIO: Songs by Bettinelli; Arias from Norma, Saffo, Il Trovatore, Otello, Forza, Aïda, Mefistofele, Adriana Lecouvreur, Zulma, L’Africaine, La Fanciulla del West & Cavalleria; Eugenia Burzio & Giuseppe de Luca: La Gioconda – Così mantieni il patto? (Austria) Preiser 89723, recorded 1907–13. - 717281897235
Eugenia Burzio’s recorded legacy is one of the most revealing of any Italian soprano of her generation. Her emphatic use of the open chest voice—ugly to some ears, exciting to others—harkens back to the nineteenth century, when large-voiced Italian sopranos emphasized the ‘voce di petto’ register for dramatic and emotional effect, and were expected to do so. What to some listeners sounds like an unevenly equalized scale is for a singer of Burzio’s effusive temperament just one of many colors in a rich palette. Burzio’s recording of Minnie’s Act 1, ‘Laggiù nel Soledad’ from FANCIULLA is of particular interest. As reported above, she participated in the Italian premiere, conducted by Toscanini, who had also led the world premiere at the Met the previous December. One of the most regrettable lacunae in phonograph history is the relative scarcity of examples from this score by the first generation of its interpreters. Burzio’s performance is a marvel of variegated details, particularly in the expansive tenderness she lends to the phrase, ‘S’amavan tanto!’ Listening to this endearing performance with the elastic way she contours certain phrases, one cannot help wondering if this really reproduces the way she sang it at the Costanzi with the formidable martinet Toscanini in the pit. The odds and ends of musicians recruited into a recording studio were there to accompany a vocal star, not necessarily to serve a composer scrupulously. It is this resulting sense of untrammeled interpretative freedom that makes Burzio’s records such a particularly engrossing experience because she involved herself so intensely in the emotions of the characters she was representing. She was not a perfect singer with her lack of a trill and her occasional glottal bump or some attenuated portamenti, but such blemishes can easily be forgiven in a singer who, in my estimation, never made an uninteresting recording and also bequeathed us some unforgettable ones.”
- William Ashbrook, Marston Program Notes
"What depth of feeling Burzio produces! Her very histrionic singing led the way for succeeding generations of emotive singers like Lina Bruna-Rasa, Gina Cigna, Licia Albanese and Magda Olivero….Some of Burzio’s records are left us with the generous voiced artistry of a very special singer who today would undoubtedly be acclaimed a genius."
- James Camner, FANFARE, Jan./Feb., 2000