Great Singers Clips and Photos II

A Great Performances Arturo Toscanini documentary. There are 8 sections.


This is Ponselle in Trovatore with Stracciari, a superb baritone in the “Mira d’accerba lagrime” thru to the fine.


Simionato and Del Monaco in a fiery clip from 1959 Carmen in Tokyo.


Gigli sings Four Songs in a MINI recital just for us!


Magda speaks about two great colleagues, Gigli and Schipa.
“Gigli also had this great technique. One time he told me an interesting thing: ‘If I had to teach singing, I would ruin all my pupils because I would want to obtain sounds like mine. To obtain my sounds from my pupils I would have to make them open their notes, open the sounds – very dangerous indeed. I have these colours, these sounds, but they are perfectly supported upon the breath.'”

“Schipa was very smooth. He used to tell me, ‘The words fall on my lips and the breath makes them carry.’ That’s a simple thing, but ever so difficult to put into action! But it’s a thing that I have learnt and when I have occasion I also repeat it to young singers. Remember that the words are little, never big, that they fall on the lips and the breath makes them travel.”


Schipa playing guitar in a rare clip from a lost movie.


Farewell to the Old Met clips; last concert Part One Part Two Part Three


An interesting discussion about Bel Canto.


At 85 Lauri Volpi still enchants. and…provokes. “The voice must be a conduit of the soul.”


Including three gentlemen who “sang” with their instruments.
Heifetz, Rubinstein, and Piatagorsky in a shumann trio.


Mr. Bergonzi in rehearsal for his first assumption of the role of Otello.2000. The night of his debut he was ill for the performance but evident here is the fabulous phrasing, the complete understanding of the text and his mixture with the colors of Verdi’s orchestration.Very beautiful and a lesson in singing.


Alfredo Kraus a truly great lyrico tenore quasi drammatico, gives a fabulous discussion on technique.
He sang until his death in his early 70’s. A great artist, and wonderful “teacher” based on this example alone.


TITO GOBBI baritone,Maria Caniglia
soprano,and Gino Bechi baritone, fly into London 1946,and attempt to outwit the press and fans at the AIRPORT!
“FIGARO,FIGARO,FIGARO” sung by Gino Bechi,baritone, at the airport,and what a performance!!

Largo al factotum (“Make way for the factotum”) is an aria from The Barber of Seville by Gioacchino Rossini, sung at the first entrance of the title character; the repeated “Figaro”s before the final patter section are an icon in popular culture of operatic singing. The term “factotum” refers to a general servant and comes from the Latin where it literally means “do everything.”

Due to the constant singing of sixteenth notes in the piece, it is often noted as one of the most difficult baritone arias to perform.This, along with the tongue-twisting nature of some of the lines, depending on Italian superlative adjectives (always ending in ‘-issimo’), have made it a pièce de résistance in which a baritone has the chance to highlight all his vocal qualities.


The great baritone Giuseppe Danise, sang at the Met with Caruso in the 20’s and 30’s/ great sound.


The very wonderful and expressive Carla Gavezzi, who this May at 95, God Bless her, died in Milano.
“Voi lo sapete” and the duet from “Cavalleria Rusticana”…..

The silvery voice , truly gorgeous voice of Elisabeth Rethberg with Giovanni Martinelli in an excerpt from a 1938 Broadcast of “La Juive”


Eidé Noréna. This fine singer with exceptional voice control, born in Norway in 1884, can be heard on records dating back to 1911/13 in roles as varied as Dinorah and Butterfly.

Eide’ Norena’s voice was initially somewhat lacking in power and individuality but she was to become a good actress, trained for the stage by her husband, Egil Eidé, a well-known actor, whose name she took and retained. She was known as Kaja Eide until her La Scala début as Gilda with Toscanini in 1924 when she was forty, but with a voice still so light that this début could have been both the making of her public reputation or the beginning of the end.

However, this slender, graceful figure with a restrained voice hid sterner stuff. In London, Eidé Noréna was helped with advice from Melba (not usually known for her generosity to potential rivals, though she had by this time given up the roles of Mimi, Violetta and Gilda, the newcomer’s prime roles).

Guided also by Raimund von der Mühlen, Kaja remodelled the character of her voice.

Her high-placed attack was straight from the school of Marchesi; her timbre with its perceptible sensual tremulo, was like a vibrant celestial bell. Eidé Noréna’s phenomenal breath control enabled her to master octave leaps, ornaments and sostenuto singing, while her perfectly formed and effective messa di voce was intact even in one of her last recordings, on retirement at 55, the
“Care selve” from Atalanta.

Truly beautiful baritone legato from American Leonard Warren


The great Ukrainian-born Jewish bass Mark Reizen (1895-1992) sings Tchaikovsky’s “Sred’ shumnovo bala” (“Amidst the din of the ball”), Op.38, No.3 (text by Aleksei Tolstoi). Recorded 1974.

Even at age 79, the ever-youthful and spry Reizen sings with beautiful control of dynamics and legato, putting to shame many singers half his age. 11 years later, Reizen celebrated his 90th birthday by performing, at the Bolshoi Theater, the role of Prince Gremin in Evgeniy Onegin- a feat that appears to be unequalled in the history of opera.


When it comes to sheer tonal opulence and warmth of sound, Ivan Petrov ranks among the greatest of basses, Russian or otherwise. Born in Irkutsk to a family of German origin, he studied at the Glazunov School of Music in Moscow and made his Bolshoi Theater debut at the tender age of 23 (in Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette). He initially sang mostly smaller roles, but became an established singer at the theater as the members of the leading bass “triumvirate”- Reizen, Mikhailov, and Pirogov- began to retire in the 1950s. Petrov also enjoyed great success during his extensive tours in Western Europe and Scandinavia, and made numerous recordings of operas in the Russian, French, and Italian repertories. Among contemporary works, he created the role of Bestuzhev in Yuri Shaporin’s The Decembrists; a complete recording has been issued on the Preiser label. Unfortunately, Petrov retired from the stage rather early- in 1970, at only 50 years of age- mostly due to complications from diabetes.

Although he didn’t have the dominating, hulking physical presence of such basses as Mark Reizen or Boris Shtokolov (or the latter’s profondo coloration), Petrov’s voice was certainly quite ample, with a beautifully focussed core and an extended upper range. There is no wooliness, and the instrument is very smooth and finely polished in all registers. All of these qualities can be noted in this recording of “Tu sul labbro de’ veggenti” from Verdi’s Nabucco, to which Petrov brings a solemn dignity and seamless legato worthy of Pinza and Siepi, as well as some beautiful pianissimo singing.

The only demerit is Petrov’s heavy Slavic accent, but in light of the exquisitely nuanced reading that hardly matters. As with my video of Boris Christoff’s “Come dal ciel precipita”, Verdi purists be forewarned: there is some scooping and portamento here, so you may wish to look elsewhere. I have no use for pedantism, however, and am grateful for this recording, one of the best the aria has had. Mark Ermler and the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra match Petrov’s sensitive reading step for step.


Great singers of Russia’s world famous Bolshoi Opera…. From the thirties to the sixties two tenors: Ivan Kozlovsky and Sergei Lemeshev were friendly rivals for public popularity. Both tenors sing their tribute to Anton Tchekhov’s widow Olga Kniepper at the special Jubilee for her at the Moscow Art Theatre..

Music Documentary Series / 13 x 30 min / 1996
The great tenors of the early to mid-twentieth century are introduced and analyzed in a 13-part television series. Each episode has both a biographical and a musical focus. Every tenor’s particular art and style is demonstrated in remarkable archive footage which was digitally scanned and its speed and pitch corrected; much of this footage is from private collections or long-lost films and is shown here for the first time. Directed by Jan Schmidt-Garre


in Lohengrin in Berlin


Mattia Battistini (1856-1928) singing Macbeth’s aria “Pieta rispetto” and Renato’s aria “Eri tu”. Battistini was known under such names as “the king of baritones” and the “glory of Italy” in his days. He reached a superstar status more commonly associated with tenors or sopranos.

His ability to phrase and his legato are extraordinary. Additionally he was regarded as a truly great actor, particularly famous for the baritone adaptation of Massenet’s Werther as well as Hamlet by Thomas.


Eugenio Giraldoni (1871-1924) sing Iago’s Credo from Otello. What great placement this remarkable baritone had! I wish more recordings of him had been made.


Mario Basiola (1892-1965) just as my father’s teacher Vladimir Dubinsky was a student of the great Antonio Cotogni. This recording was made in 1934.


“Joseph Schwarz (1880-1926) was a magnificient German baritone who sang in a nearly perfected Italian style. Here he sings “Ombra mai fu” in German and Wolfram’s ode to the evening star. Unfortunately he died very prematurely.

PS: I myself do not own the record of him singing Dapertutto’s aria “Scintille Diamant” but if you can find it you will hear some of the greatest singing ever caught on record.”

For myself this has to be one of the most beautiful baritones I have ever heard. The line and the legato are beyond gorgeous. The German is my favorite rendition of this glorious aria.

One of the all time greats…..Stracciari

The Italian baritone Riccardo Stracciari (1875-1955) sings “Eri tu” and “Di Provenza”.

Both were recorded in 1917. He later taught the famous Russian basso Boris Christoff and pretty much adopted him into his family.


Here is one of the greatest renditions of these three Silicilian songs, especially the last, the “C’ore ingrato”, if you aren’t screaming with the rest I will be very surprised. Giuseppe Di Stefano


The next are to excerpts of Giacomo Lauri-Volpi. Il grande tenore di Lanuvio in un brano dal concerto del 1954, quando aveva 62 anni, canta IN TONO la terribile romaza “Una vergine” dalla Favorita, con stile unico ed inconfondibile.

La vecchia registrazione è stata da me restaurata, non si sentono i rumori di fondo e i click della vecchia registrazione, non solo, ho magnificato anche la dinamica, ora la registrazione rende meglio l’idea di come cantava il grande tenore.

Then a recording of the duet from Otello with the beloved Italian soprano, Maria Caniglia, and then extended version of the already famous clip from Barcelona of him singing at 80 and the house in delirium.


Giuseppe De Stefano in a great interview about many things.
Here in a gorgeous excerpt from “Madama Butterfly” by Puccini.


My favorite, or at least one of my TOP favorites in violin concerti…..the majesty of his playing, the intonation so rock solid, and the beauty of this music. Haunts me.

Max Bruch. Violin Concerto No.1 in g minor,op.26
Violin Tibor Varga
The Festiva Orcestra
Conductor J-M Auberson

Tibor Varga, the Hungarian-born violinist, was one of the most exciting soloists of the mid-20th century; he was especially associated with the music of Berg and Bartók, which he promoted long before the composers had become established names.

Varga gave early performances in Austria and Germany of Berg’s Violin Concerto, and in November 1950 premiered Boris Blacher’s Violin Concerto in Munich under Erich Schmid. But it is probably the music of his compatriot Bela Bartók with which Varga is most closely associated. His recording of the composer’s Second Violin Concerto under Ferenc Fricsay remains a classic.

While his interpretation of these 20th century masterpieces brought him glowing praise – Schoenberg told Varga that his performance of the Violin Concerto “resonates as if you had known the work for 25 years” – Varga attracted similar acclaim for his interpretation of the classics, not least Beethoven, Brahms and Tchaikovsky. “With Varga, a new way of violin playing is born,” said Le Monde, going on to praise “the expressive perfection of a playing literally sheathed in flawless phrasing”.

While living after the war in England, where he obtained British citizenship, he founded the Tibor Varga Chamber Orchestra at Detmold, Germany. In 1956 he settled in Sion, Switzerland, where, like Yehudi Menuhin down the road in Gstaad, he acted as something of a magnet for students and aficionados from around the world, running a summer school, a festival and an international violin competition.

If the Tibor Varga Festival (established in 1967) was sometimes seen as a poor relation alongside Menuhin’s festival and the more recently established one in Verbier, at its height its summer school attracted more than 500 advanced students every year. Varga, however, had his own distinct view of the role of music in the world. In an interview seven years ago he described music as “the highest philosophy that exists, a language that can explain what no other language can”.

Tibor Varga was born at Gyor, Hungary, on July 4 1921. It was the same part of the country in which Joachim, Auer and Flesch were also born. His earliest violin lessons were from his father and Carl Flesch, and he made his debut at the age of 10 performing the Mendelssohn concerto. He was swiftly taken under the wing of the elderly Jeno Hubay at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, where he encountered Bartók. He studied there with Ferenc Gabriel. When Hubay died, Varga played his mentor’s Third Violin Concerto at a memorial concert conducted by Ernö Dohnányi.

During the war Varga studied Philosophy at Budapest University and took conducting lessons with Franco Ferrara. Immediately afterwards he returned to his home town in Hungary to teach at the new Gyór Academy of Music. However, following a number of international tours, he settled in London in 1947 from where his career as a virtuoso violinist prospered. He was a regular guest at the Proms concerts, and was frequently heard with the London orchestras. He also continued to promote contemporary music by composers such as Matyas Seiber and Ernst Krenek.

In 1949 Varga founded the string department at the Detmold School of Music, bringing in such eminent teachers as the cellist André Navarra and the violist Bruno Giuranna. He remained associated with the school until 1986. After settling in Sion, Varga started the international violin competition that has continued on an annual basis. He also established the Tibor Varga Foundation in 1974, which exists to promote musical life in the Valais canton with conferences, workshops and manuscript publication.

Almost to the end of his life Varga, who produced some 40 recordings, was teaching and giving masterclasses. In 2001 he was a guest of the Jascha Heifetz Society in California, where he spent a week training and inspiring some 20 chamber orchestra players.

During the war his violin – by the French craftsman Nicholas Lupot – was destroyed. After playing an instrument by Guadagnini while living in London, he later owned the Guarneri “del Gesu” of 1733.


Perhaps one day someone will be able to offer me a logical explanation as to WHY in the wide world Guelfi’s name pops up so infrequently in discussions of great baritones of the 1950s and ’60s. Born in Rome, Guelfi studied in Florence with Bianca Elice (Enzo Mascherini’s teacher) and Titta Ruffo, becoming in time a most worthy heir to the latter’s mantle of Verdi baritone par excellence.

Indeed, in terms of pure vocal refulgence, I can think of only two other baritones that could equal him in the post-Leonard Warren era: the great Romanian Nicolae Herlea, and Cornell Macneil. Yet, although Guelfi was well-respected and enjoyed a fine career worldwide, he never seemed to garner the lavish praise bestowed on such contemporaries as Bastianini, Taddei, and Gobbi.

It can be said that he was a relatively straightforward singer and certainly not the last word in subtlety, but that’s true of a great many singers (think Merrill, or Warren himself). And while Guelfi did not possess Gobbi’s gift of nuance, he had a much, MUCH better voice and sang with substantially greater technical assurance.

I’m at a total loss as to why Guelfi’s voice- a huge, dark, potent, rugged instrument that never thinned out on top- was virtually ignored by the record companies, who must surely shoulder at least part of the blame for his “second-tier” status today.

Aside from the famous Karajan-led Cavalleria with Bergonzi and Cossotto on Deutsche Grammophon (and film of the same opera with Cecchele substituting for Bergonzi), I’m unaware of any major label opera recordings. Fortunately, there are quite a few “live” performances that have been preserved on labels ranging from Opera d’Oro to Myto, including many Verdi roles for which he was justly acclaimed (he had made his debut in Spoleto in 1950 as Rigoletto). One of my favorites is his Macbeth, recorded April 9, 1968 at the Teatro la Fenice in Venice, with Gianandrea Gavazzeni at the helm.

Those looking for deft, detail-oriented phrasing a la Bruson or Taddei won’t find it here, but the outpouring of rich, golden tone is ample reward in itself. And despite the relative lack of nuance, Guelfi does not sing at an unvaried forte: witness the beautiful pianissimo on the word “inaridita”, at the end of the recitative. The recording is clear but low level, so be sure to adjust speaker volume accordingly. For those interested in further investigating Guelfi, I highly reommend his Scarpia (alongside Renata Tebaldi) and Jack Rance (with Eleanor Steber), in addition to Alfio in the Cavallerias mentioned above.


The “Song of the Viking Guest”, comes from the 4th kartina (tableau) of Rimsky-Korsakoff’s 1897 opera Sadko. The people of Novgorod gather at a pier on Lake Ilmen, thronging around the overseas traders (Varangian, Indian, and Venetian, among others) and inspecting the merchandise they have brought. The Viking merchant tells of the sea and cliffs of his homeland (“Against the fearsome rocks the waves break with a roar…”), while Rimsky-Korsakoff’s ascending and descending scales, framed by massive chords, provide a turbulent musical backdrop.

Mark Reizen’s singing needs little comment. His account is magisterial, expansive, and bears a grave nobility quite suited to the Viking Merchant. Nicolai Golovanov leads the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra in this 1952 recording.


Cesare Siepi: “Seigneur, Rampart Et Seul Soutien” very low note that is actually real! Amazing.


Miguel Fleta, a Spanish lirico-spinto, of great accomplishment and beauty. “Sadko” Cancion India by Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov.

And this a recording of 1930,

and finally Signor Fleta singing the famous aria “E lucevan le stelle” from Puccini’s Tosca, recorded at 1924.


A very, very rare Caruso from a cylinder of 1902……


These are remarkable glimpses into another age. Several “Farewell” speeches and interviews with some really great people. The pride and the pronunciation gives me such a smile.

The first is Frances Alda speaking on behalf of Giuseppe De Luca on his farewell performance in 1948.

The delectable, never modest, Mary Garden.


Enrico Caruso and Geraldine Farrar sings O Soave Fanciulla for Victor in 1912. Surprisingly, this recording was never released for the market, and I don’t know why.(Is there anyone who can explain?)

This recording was later re-released in a limited 78rpm pressing from IRCC (International Record Collectors Club) in 1942. But I never heard or seen that IRCC pressing of the song.

Anyway, this is a transferred recording from original master to CD which is called “Caruso in Love”.


Scratchy audio only. vladimir horowitz plays brahms piano concerto #1, mvt3, march 1935, nyc, live, cond. arturo toscanini, recorded from the radio. this performance was never officially released on record.


Rodolfo Celletti interviews Giacomo Lauri Volpi. In Italian. Worth learning Italian for.


A fabulous interview on Italian television with the one and only Mario Del Monaco.


Frances Alda at 51 years old sings a very personal and moving “Ave Maria” from Otello of Verdi.

Giovanni Martinelli in La Juive, very rare 1927, and in Marta…..”M’appari”…..beautiful.


Very wonderful clip of Corelli in amazing youth, a wine that got even more amazing as it matured, with a fabulous Turandot of Udovich. She is pretty wonderful too. The year I was born, 1958, RAI.
RAI 1958 L. Udovich and F. Corelli


Rare vitaphone with Gigli and DeLuca.


One of the single greatest LYRIC readings of this aria “O de’ verd’anni miei” from Ernani of Verdi. From the amazing artistry of Igor Gorrin in the year 1956, truly gorgeous phrasing and an amazing and most stirring conclusion. If he sang today they would still be applauding.



Operavision Academy

Busseto, Italy 2016


Friedhofs-Fotografien von Michael Wassenberg

Theosophy Watch

"Ancient Thought in Modern Dress"

Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise

Aprile Millo's View of the Opera/World


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