V1693. CELESTINA BONINSEGNA: Songs by Bach-Gounod & Braga; Arias from Faust, Ernani, Ballo, Forza, Aïda, Tosca, Il Trovatore, I Vespri Siciliani, La Boheme, Cavalleria, Mefistofele, Manon Lescaut, La Gioconda, Norma, Semiramide & Lucrezia Borgia; w.Augusto Scampini: Il Trovatore Miserere. (Germany) Truesound Transfers 3015, recorded 1908-10, incl. variant takes. Transfers by Christian Zwarg.
"On record [Boninsegna] has few rivals in the dramatic soprano field. The luscious, easily produced voice rings out so impressively that the limitations of the acoustic process are quite forgotten."
- Vivian A. Liff, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Sept./Oct., 2004
Celestina Boninsegna was an Italian operatic soprano, known for her interpretations of the heroines in Verdi's operas. Although particularly eminent in Verdi's works, she sang a wide repertoire during her 25 year career, including Rosaura in the world premiere of Mascagni's LE MASCHERE. Boninsegna made many recordings between 1904 and 1918, and her voice was one of the most successfully recorded in that period. In 1897 she made her début at Bari as Marguerite in Gounod's FAUST..This was followed by many engagements throughout Italy, Europe, and the United States including Covent Garden (1904), La Scala (19045), Teatro Real (19056), and the Metropolitan Opera (19067). She also appeared in Boston (190910), at the Liceu in Barcelona (191112), in St Petersburg (1914), and in numerous less important theatres in Italy and abroad. She retired from the stage in 1921 and spent the next two decades teaching singing. Amongst her pupils was Margherita Grandi.
Boninsegna possessed a rich, resonant voice with a wide compass that was particularly suited to Verdi. She was considered one of the finest interpreters of several Verdi heroines including the title rôle in AÏDA, Amelia in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, and Leonora in both IL TROVATORE and LA FORZA DEL DESTINO. Critics particularly admired her smooth vocal delivery and the dignity and refinement that she gave to the vocal lines of the music. However, in an era of dynamic and passionate singing actresses (such as Gemma Bellincioni and Emmy Destinn), Boninsegna's acting skills were somewhat dull in comparison and her career suffered to some extent as a result. Furthermore, with the exception of Santuzza in CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA and the title rôle in Puccini's TOSCA, Boninsegna was either unfamiliar with or simply not cast in the verismo repertory which was very popular during the time she was performing, a problem that prejudiced her career. However, she scored a great success on gramophone records, being one of the first dramatic sopranos whose voice recorded well.
- Ned Ludd
[Truesound] transfers have been an absolute revelation to me
.Amazingly, Christian Zwarg has managed to unlock the sound of these recordings in such a way as to present [voices] such as I have never heard before. Here the sound has a sheen and glow which is quite beautiful. It is as if an old masterpiece painting has been cleaned and restored, allowing rays of brilliant light to emerge
- Davyd Booth, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2012