V2030. FRANCO CORELLI, w.Gwyneth Jones, Grace Bumbry & Ezio Flagello; Mehta Cond. Los Angeles Phil.: MANZONI REQUIEM (Verdi), Live Performance, 14 Nov., 1967, Los Angeles; FRANCO CORELLI: Songs by Tosti, di Capua & Cardillo; Arias from Tosca, Le Cid, I Lombardi & Macbeth, Live Performance, 1967, Providence, RI; FRANCO CORELLI: Songs by de Curtis & Berrefato; Arias & Duets (w.KIRSTEN & TEBALDI) from Cavalleria, La Boheme & Andrea ChÃ©nier, all Live Performances, 1962-68, Ed Sullivan Shows. (E.U.) 2- Myto 0015. - 3030257900157
"Franco Corelli had been singing for well over a decade when he made his Met debut in 1961 at the age of 40. The first attraction in any Corelli performance is the voice itself. Solid and evenly produced from bottom to top, with no audible seams between registers. The middle and lower parts of the voice are dark and richly colored. The top is stunningly brilliant, and never thins out or turns hard. It is a once-in-a-generation kind of voice if your generation is lucky, and in the four decades since his retirement in 1976 we have had nothing like it for visceral power. Some critics complained because Corelli would hold high notes well beyond their value in the score. But if we listen to singers from the past whose careers overlapped with the great Italian opera composers, and who often worked with them, we can easily conclude that the composers expected it. (A recording of an aria from Francesco Cilea's ADRIANA LECOUVREUR by tenor Fernando de Lucia, with the composer accompanying at the piano, exposes liberties that go far beyond anything Corelli ever did, and Cilea echoes those 'distortions' at the keyboard.)"
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE
"In 1955 Grace Bumbry entered Northwestern University, where she studied voice with Lotte Lehman, and transferred with her to the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. In 1958 she was joint winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, sharing first place with Martina Arroyo. She won some other prizes, and made her professional debut in a recital in London in 1959. Her first operatic appearance was at the Paris Opéra, as Amneris in Verdi's AIDA. It was one of the most spectacular operatic debuts in history; Bumbry became an instant star and was invited to join the roster of the Basle Opera. She made operatic history in 1961 when she was engaged by Wieland Wagner to sing at the Bayreuth Festival and became the first black singer to perform in that shrine of Wagnerian opera. Furthermore, musical historian Nicolas Slomimsky has pointed out that she was the first African American to make a professional operatic as a goddess, for her debut at Bayreuth was as Venus in TANNHAUSER, 23 July, 1961. Bumbry embarked on a concert tour of the United States and was invited by Jacqueline Kennedy to sing at the White House, on 20 February, 1962. She also followed up her success at Bayreuth with appearances as Venus at the Chicago Lyric Opera and at Lyons, France.
Bumbry's 1963 London debut came in the role of Princess Eboli in Verdi's DON CARLOS, and she gave her first Metropolitan Opera performance in the same role in 1965. During the 1960s Bumbry worked on extending her vocal range. In 1970 at the Vienna Staatsoper, she sang the part of Santuzza, making her debut as a soprano. She sang Richard Strauss' SALOME at Covent Garden the same year, and her first appearance in Puccini's TOSCA at the Metropolitan Opera came in 1971. She has a very warm voice with rich tone quality throughout the mezzo range, although it loses some of its distinctiveness in the very upper part of her soprano register. She is among the few sopranos who have sung both the roles of Aida and Amneris in AIDA and both Venus and Elisabeth in Wagner's TANNHAUSER."
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
"Ezio Flagello, a bass with a rich voice and wide range who sang 528 performances at the Metropolitan Opera as part of an international career, a son of Italian immigrants in New York City, sang at major opera houses like La Scala in Milan, the Vienna State Opera, the San Francisco Opera and the Houston Grand Opera. But it was the Met that he made perhaps his most distinguished mark. His wide-ranging career there included basso cantante roles like Rodolfo in LA SONNAMBULA, Wagnerian characters like Pogner in DIE MEISTERSINGER, comic roles in Mozart and Rossini operas and major Verdi roles like King Philip in DON CARLO.
He made his professional debut in 1955 at the Empire State Festival in Ellenville, N.Y., singing Dulcamara in L'ELISIR D'AMORE. His career took off after he won first place in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air in 1957. He made his Met debut in November 1957 as the jailer in TOSCA. Shortly after, he sang Leporello in DON GIOVANNI, filling in for Fernando Corena, who was ill. His other performances at the Met included Geronte in MANON LESCAUT, Dulcamara in L'ELISIR D'AMORE, Sparafucile in RIGOLETTO, Ramfis in AIDA, Sarastro in DIE ZAUBERFLOTE and the title roles in GIANNI SCHICCHI and FALSTAFF. He originated the role of Enobarbus in Barberï¿½s ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, which received its premiere on opening night of the new Metropolitan Opera House in September 1966. Mr. Flagello's final appearance at the Met was as Dr. Bartolo (a role he sang many times there) in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA in December 1984. In a NEW YORK TIMES review of Mr. Flagello's performance as Falstaff at the Met in December 1964, Harold C. Schonberg wrote, 'a singer with a sturdy voice and a good deal of intelligence, Mr. Flagello found himself thoroughly at ease with the demands of the role. That included the dramatic demands', Mr. Schonberg said. 'He did not merely walk through the role using stock Falstaffian gestures. Rather, he used gesture, expression and motion to build toward a real characterization'.
Mr. Flagello was born in New York City on Jan. 28, 1931, [and] received a bachelor's degree from the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with the bass-baritone Friedrich Schorr and the baritone John Brownlee. In 1955, Mr. Flagello won a Fulbright Scholarship and studied with Luigi Ricci at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome.
He may have reached his largest audience in a brief screen appearance in THE GODFATHER Part II (1974). He played a vaudeville impressario in a flashback sequence, set in 1917, in Little Italy."
- Vivien Schweitzer, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 24 March, 2009
“Conductor Zubin Mehta, son of Mehli Mehta, a violinist who was the founder and conductor of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra, was born in Bombay on April 29, 1936. At the age of 18, after considering a career in medicine, Zubin entered the Vienna Academy of Music, learned to play the double bass in order to join the Academy's orchestra, and took conducting lessons from Hans Swarowsky. He graduated from the Academy in 1957 and made his professional debut in Vienna, guest conducting the Tonkünstler Orchestra. A victory in the first international conductors' competition organized by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra led to a one-year appointment as their assistant conductor. After completing his year-long tenure, Mehta was engaged to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and made another important and successful guest conducting position with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Guest appearances with the Montréal and Los Angeles symphonies both led to permanent positions; in 1960 he became music director in Montréal and associate conductor in Los Angeles. Thus Mehta became one of the first of a new breed of conductors sometimes called the ‘jet set’, who are able to maintain two (or even more) principal conductorships of major orchestras by means of frequently flying between the cities involved.
Mehta's accomplishments in Los Angeles, where he became musical director in 1962, were particularly striking. In just a few years he was able to turn the lackluster ensemble into one of the nation's finest orchestras, and, still under 30 years of age when he was appointed, he became the youngest music director of any ‘major’ U.S. orchestra. An exuberant, extroverted performer and person, he possessed a genuine star quality; soon, he conducted the Orchestra on a notable series of excellent recordings for London (Decca) Records. Mehta made his operatic debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on December 29, 1965, and in 1967 he resigned his position in Montréal, and forged a new relationship with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, eventually becoming its chief music adviser in 1970.
In 1978 he resigned his Los Angeles post to succeed Pierre Boulez as music director of the New York Philharmonic. After the rather ascetic, ultra-modern Boulez, Mehta's interest in lush Romanticism, and a more traditional repertoire made for a favorable impression, and a long and successful relationship with the Orchestra. However, by the time of his resignation in 1991, a little of the bloom had faded from his relationship with the critics, some of whom seemed to be put off by the more ‘Hollywood’ aspects of his style and personality.
Between 1998 and 2006, Mehta was music director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. He made several tours and kept up a busy schedule of guest conducting appearances. He has continued to serve as Music Director for Life of the Israel Philharmonic.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
“Although Mehta never had difficulty pleasing the casual concertgoer, he did not always make a minority of hard-core aficionados ecstatic. They recognized his penchant for the superficial effect, his willingness to cheapen a subtle impulse, his tendency to exaggerate, his weakness (or is it strength?) for bombast and disinclination for subtle introspection.”
- Martin Bernheimer, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 2 Oct, 2019