What is new?

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

NEW : GANNA WALSKA, adresse 15 ou 16 Avenue Montaigne; récit VINCENT GIROUD

Born Polish as Hanna Puacz in the Russian Empire, she was an apprentice cabaret singer before dreaming of a career as an opera diva. A great philanthropist, she spent the interwar period between Paris and the United States. On the advice of her friend, the conductor and musician Walther Straram, she acquired in the early 1920s the majority of the shares of the Société immobilière du Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, a theater which she owned until 1970. It is the little-known story of one of the great benefactors of French music that we have endeavored to retrace here

Click here to order the book (10 Euros)

NEW : LAWRENCE TIBBETT, The Complete Victor Recordings and Selected broadcasts.

Click here to order this unique set

Few (if any?) opera singers have also been Academy Award nominees, let alone for Best Actor. But then again, there is only one Lawrence Tibbett (1896–1960). Described as dashing, Tibbett had a career as a movie actor, radio show personality and host, with sponsors such as Packard, Firestone, and Chesterfield. He was also one of the first “crossover” artists singing Gershwin, Kern, and Porter, and was a staple at the Met. A cogent and articulate advocate for artistic causes (rare in his day), he founded the American Guild of Musical Artists with Jascha Heifetz. But first and foremost, Lawrence Tibbett was an opera singer and one of the greatest baritones of all time.

Lawrence Tibbett signed his first contract with the Metropolitan Opera at age twenty-six and over the years built a hugely successful career. His voice was large, deep, and dark-timbred. His dynamic range (in his prime) ranged from forceful fortes to delicate pianissimos. Falstaff’s Ford was his breakthrough role and he was an outstanding Simon Boccanegra, Iago, Scarpia, and Escamillo. Tibbett was the consummate musician with an incredible stage presence. Sadly, arthritis and alcohol took its toll and Tibbett died from a fall in his apartment at age sixty-three.

Tibbett recorded exclusively for RCA Victor between 1925 and 1940, making over one hundred sides. Marston Records is pleased to present the complete Victor recordings of Tibbett for the first time. In addition, this set will include recordings made for his films, Metropolitan and Under Your Spell, as well as selections from his Packard and Chesterfield radio broadcasts never before available on compact disc. The booklet will contain many rare photos and a comprehensive essay by author and critic Conrad Osborne on Tibbett’s life, career, and recorded legacy.

RIP : AMERICAN soprano of Russian descent LUBA TCHERESKY died at age 101 on 16th December in Yonkers NY

RIP : American soprano MARGARET TYNES passed away at age 104 on 8th March

with tenor Nick Dumont in Brussels

Tynes was discovered to be a childhood prodigy at the age of six when she won her first award of $500 against adults at the time. She won her second award, also against adults, at the age of 12 when she sang the famous lullaby from Godard’s Jocelyn.

She went on to get her Bachelor’s from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 1939 and continued her studies at the Juilliard School. She would later transfer to Columbia University and receive a Master’s in Music Education.

Following her studies, she went on to become a leading soprano, especially in Europe, performing at many of the world’s greatest houses. She performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Wiener Staatsoper, Prague State Opera, Budapest Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Palermo, Torino, Parma, Naples, Bologna, Spoleto, Toronto, Montreal, Baltimore, Zürich, Lyon, Brussels among others. She also performed at the Spoleto Festival under Thomas Schippers and Luchino Visconti.

Among the roles she was best known for included Lady Macbeth, Aida, Norma, Tosca, Salome, Liu in “Turandot”, Leonora in “La Forza del Destino,” Desdemona in “Otello,” and the title role of “Jenufa.”

Tynes also sang oratorios and concert pieces including Verdi’s Requiem, Brahms’ Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem, Britten’s War Requiem, and Strauss’s Four Last Songs. In an off-Broadway show Harry Belafonte produced called Sing Man, Sing! Margaret Tynes the leading lady and she was in the original production of “Finian’s Rainbow.” 

Other highlights included performing Bess in “Porgy and Bess” at the New York City Opera for six years and performing “Amahl and the Night Visitors” on NBC. She performed on Broadway in “Lysistrata” with Sidney Poitier and in Finian’s “Rainbow.” Tynes recorded a recital for Qualiton, excerpts from Porgy and Bess, a record with spirituals, and Pergolesi’s Stabat mater (Supraphon).

RIP : previously unannounced Flemish tenor ROLAND BUFKENS died last December at age 87.

RIP : French soprano FRANCOISE GARNER died at age 90 on 7 March

NEW !!! A PROMPTER’S MEMOIRS

JAUME TRIBÓ: memories d’un apuntador by Jaume Radigales

The first book of a prompter’s memories was written more than 120 years ago. That was Gino Monaldi’s “Memorie di un suggeritore” (1902). Those interested can still find it on the internet though in spite of the title it is hardly an account of a prompter’s life as such. For this we have now a new addition featuring Jaume Tribó (Barcelona, ​​1945) a man linked to opera since childhood. Click here to read further

Interview with the author (in Catala only)

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

NEW : our editor JAN NECKERS remembers MAGDA OLIVERO

“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

(Olivero in the middle to her left Adèle Bergonzi to her right Carlo Bergonzi, between Olivero and Bergonzi the late Sergio Segalini former editor of Opéra International, others unknown. Let us know if you know them)

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.

Click here to order this fabulous set

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.”

Click here to continue reading

(DANIEL JINGA director of tbe Rumanian National Opera in Bucharest)

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:

(Liana Mares (pianist), Barbara Schilstra, Madalina Barbu (sopranos) © BNR.jpg)

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

Click here to order the book

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.

Click here to read more

Charles Mintzer

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.

Click here to read more

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.

Click here to buy the Bellincioni book

Click here to buy the Pagliughi book

Click here to read our articles on Lina Pagliughi by our late collaborator Luciano Di Cave who knew the singer