NOTE TO OUR READERS : after a hiatus of more than a year we are slowly coming back. The hiatus was due to the fact that our previous provider suddenly stopped hosting websites. Not only did we have to look for a new one but the ‘old’ website needed to be changed to a new system. Operanostalgia.be is now operanostalgia.com but still a work in progress.
The old website will soon disappear but all the articles can still be read through the new one.
THIS MONTH WE CELEBRATE THE CENTENARY OF RENATO CAPECCHI
This month we celebrate the CENTENARY of soprano VICTORIA DE LOS ANGELES
TENORS GALORE !
In an extensive article Jan Neckers reviews 9 CD recitals by present-day tenors
On Musicweb reviewer Ralph Moore recently wrote on his penchant for tenor recitals. Usually classic music reviewers look down on these recordings, pontificate that arias are taken out of context and make short shrift of recitals. Mr. Moore doesn’t. On the contrary, with each new record he hopes to hear the next great tenor anxiously awaiting for a successor to….you name it. Of course that’s the problem. We less sophisticated vocal buffs who like a great high C have not been spoiled for almost 25 years. Compare our time with the golden age of tenor singing; broadly speaking 1900-1990. Yes, there have been some notable exceptions to the dearth of a breed that seems almost extinguished ( e.g. Florez and Calleja and Kaufmann though only in German repertoire) but I am not the only one wondering what predecessors would have thought of La Scala openings with Meli or Eyvasov. . Anyway there’s recently being a new crop; therefore “incomminciato!”. Click here to read the full article
RIP French soprano SUZANNE SARROCCA died at age 96
NEW : our editor JAN NECKERS remembers MAGDA OLIVE
“Era un nume” Magda Olivero told me. “He was a God” and that god was Enrico Caruso; the one great tenor whom she never sang with as she was too young. But she remembered well the horrified exclamations of her father when he read in his newspaper Caruso had died. I met her for a long talk in her magnificent apartment in the Italian seaside resort Rapallo in 1987. The Dutch-speaking public broadcasting organisations had decided on a co-production of an Italian language course. A documentary on Italian culture would be produced as well and as the Flemish producer I proposed one on the breed that for almost hundred years was the symbol of Italy in Flanders and The Netherlands: “The Italian tenor”. I baptised the programme “Sei fuggita e non torni più” (from the song “Rondine al nido”) as the breed was almost extinguished at the time and has nowadays disappeared. I’d found rare footage (rare in these pre-Youtube-days) and started working the phone. First I tried Franco Corelli as he was the only top tenor who during his career had his number at Via Crivelli 12 in Milan (photo on his first Neapolitan Song LP) in the public directory. No answer. Click here to read further
RIP : Italian soprano MARGHERITA RINALDI died on 7th September in Impruneta at the age of 88
GIUSEPPE ANSELMI, the complete recordings Marston records
The charismatic lyric tenor Giuseppe Anselmi (1876–1929) was idolized in Madrid, Warsaw, Buenos Aires, and Saint Petersburg during the first decade of the 20th century. He sang with success at Covent Garden and La Scala at a time when his competition was Caruso, Zenatello, Bonci, and Giorgini. Understanding the power of recordings to publicize a singer’s voice, Anselmi recorded prolifically for Fonotipia from 1907–1910 (both operatic and song repertoire) and in 1913 for Edison. His records include some of his own compositions, as well as some pieces of unusual repertoire for the time, so some of the records are quite scarce for this reason. Also an accomplished violinist, Anselmi composed in his spare time and after he ended his career in 1918 he devoted his time to teaching and composition until his untimely death from pneumonia in 1929, at fifty-two. Upon his death his heart was removed from his body and sent to Madrid’s Teatro Real, the theater of his greatest successes.
Giuseppe Anselmi is known to many for his matinee-idol good looks and arresting stage presence. Besides the typically romantic roles in which he excelled, like Des Grieux and Romeo, among his most memorable roles were Almaviva and Don Ottavio. Along with Bonci, Anselmi is considered one of the last of the bel canto tenors. But above all else, Anselmi was a refined and sophisticated musician, known for his ornamentations, elegance, diction, and mastery of recitative. Anselmi is a must-hear singer.
Anselmi’s biography has always been surrounded by a shroud of mystery to which he often contributed, especially concerning his early career and private life, so that much of what has been written about him was simply hearsay and scarcely documented. We pay homage to Anselmi by reissuing all of his Fonotipia and Edison recordings in this five-CD set, which will include numerous rare photos, complete discographic information, and two informative essays: Francisco Segalerva, a frequent contributor to The Record Collector, has written a biographical piece containing original research that sheds light on some of the most unknown episodes of Anselmi’s life and career. William Crutchfield, director of Teatro Nuovo and also a contributor to The Record Collector concentrates on the tenor’s singing and recordings providing insight into Giuseppe Anselmi the musician.
Portait of Anselmi, courtesy Rudi van den Bulck/Charles Mintzer archive
JUST PUBLISHED RENE SEGHERS’S BOOK ON HARICLEA DARCLEE
Published at last, René Seghers’ HARICLEA DARCLEE biography!
After 25 years and overcoming the falling through of a scheduled 2014 release, author René Seghers did it after all: publish his biography on Hariclea Darclée, the first Tosca, Catalani’s Wally, Mascagni’s Iris and Luisa in I Rantzau and many more! And how: the book is designed as a piece of art in the Art Nouveau style of her time, the print is state of the art and… the 500 page book with over 110 photographs, a 70 page chronology and including a names register is printed in FULL COLOUR ! Seghers: “People asked me many times if in these 25 years I despaired that the book would ever see the light of day, but no. On the contrary. To begin with it was born out of personal fascination, so I enjoyed every step on the way. The discoveries, the friends made in the process. Moreover, any given setback always resulted in a better book. When Thomas G. Kaufmann and Frank Hamilton died, to both of whom this book is dedicated, I thought all knowledge in the chronology department ended with them. But in 2020 Pippo Martelli stepped in to vastly enhance the chronology once again. Private funding made this limited 100 copies release possible. It was scheduled for an earlier print in 2021, when I discovered novel AI image enhancement programming. Having been a photographer in a previous life I threw myself on AI and postponed the release with another year. In that period I was able to vastly enhance all photographs in the book. On top of that I was able to restore all of them to full colour, making this the first full colour biography of any 19th century singer.”
The book presentation
The SensoTV.ro film report of Mr. Seghers’s Darclée biography presentation in the National Bank of Romania had an elite audience. Among the speakers were Mr. Daniel Jinga of the Bucharest National Opera, with whom mr. Seghers will perform his rediscovery of the once thought lost Enoch Arden score (by Catargi) that Darclée created in 1906. The premiere is planned for 2024, the Puccini year. Also speaking was the vice major of Braila, Doinita Ciocan, with whom Mr. Seghers is planning to work together on a presentation of the Romanian language edition of the book, likewise in 2024. Offers for a televison movie based on the biography will shortly be discussed. An accompanying CD to the biography with countless surprises is in the makings. At the presentation a movie was shown, shot by Mr. Seghers, of his 2007 discovery of the only true 78RPM record of Darclée. Madalina Barbu sang songs dedicated to Darclée, soprano Barbara Schilstra sang the central Act II dream scene of Enoch Arden. Excerpts of both are in the SensoTV report, which can be seen here:
The new site now also features a review of the recently published book by Giacomo Lauri-Volpi and an extensive Giulietta SIMIONATO portrait.
CHARLES MINTZER REVIEWS THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF GIACOMO LAURI-VOLPI’S VOCI PARALELLE
Giacomo Lauri-Volpi: PARALLEL VOICES, Edizioni Bongiovanni, Translated, annotated by Daniele D. Godor
252 pages with index, and 2 cd’s, USA $41.00
This famous book by Giacomo Lauri-Volpi enjoyed 3 editions (1955, 1960, 1975) and has now been translated into English. It is one of the most important discussions of basically Italian singers heard by or performed with the famous tenor. The most detailed discussions are with the singers he had heard close-up, followed by serious analyses of singers he heard in person. Historical singers necessary to make points are discussed. So, the book ranges from Pasta to Pavarotti, but only to sketch in the pre-1910 and post-1960 period. One of his first essays involving singers he heard were Maria Barrientos, and one of his last American singers was Gladys Swarthout. Having sung in North America, mostly with the Metropolitan, he has interesting takes on his rivals and compatriots.
GIULIETTA SIMIONATO REMEMBERED
Article dedicated to the memory of ROBERT “Bob” RIDEOUT (1938-2023)
The lady in Verona
(This article was originally written in Dutch for the Dutch operatic magazine Esultate.)
In the previous issue of Esultate, the title was “Giulietta Simionato 100 years”. That is not correct as the mezzo died one week before her centenary (Esultate was already in print). I never had the privilege of attending a Simionato-performance but I have seen her a few times. One minute before the start of a performance in the Arena di Verona, La Simionato appeared. She slowly walked through the middle corridor so that the loggionisti had time to recognize and welcome her warmly. She was a small female (1 m.55) with a high haircut that compensated for the missing length. And she always wore high heels. Not only during a performance but also at every opera recording in the heart of summer and even at home. Almost nobody got to see her without those surplus centimetres. Her record: heels of 14 centimetres in Aida.
LINA PAGLIUGHI and GEMMA BELLINCIONI, two new wonderful biographies from Italy
Wonderful because both books are gems for the opera lover and/or admirer of these two important Italian singers. The books contain numerous rare photos, complete chronologies (with reviews) and discographies. Bellincioni has 575pp, Pagliughi 409pp. The Bellincioni bio also has a Roberto Stagno chronology and the Pagliughi contains a biography, chronology and discography of Primo Montanari her husband.