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BEVERLY SILLS, Soprano * 25 May 1929, Brooklyn, New York, U.S. + 02 July 2007, New York City;

Opera soprano Beverly Sills, called “America’s Queen of Opera” by Time Magazine, and known as “Bubbles” to her fans, was the face of opera for millions through her public performances, recordings and broadcasts during a singing career of more than four decades.

After retiring in 1980, she stayed in the public eye for the next three decades as head of music organizations, host of public television specials, and as chairperson for national charities. With her death in 2007, the opera world lost one of its most visible and endearing supporters.

This web site is dedicated to preserving the artistry and humanity of Beverly Sills, offering an in-depth look at her life and career through print, sound and video. Whether you are a long-time fan or just discovering her, this web site provides useful and entertaining information, verified in the most authoritative resources.

Although this is a non-commercial tribute site not officially connected with any of Sills’ family, recording companies or former managers and agencies, it is the most comprehensive on the Internet, maintained to keep alive the memory of this beloved artist.

1943 Silverman Family Portrait

1943 Silverman Family Portrait From left to right: Beverly; Shirley, mother; Stan, brother; Morris, father; Sidney, brother.

Beverly and Shirley, her mom

Beverly with Shirley, her mother during the opening night of Manon in Baltimore. April 18, 1953

Beverly and Peter wedding photo

Beverly and Peter on their wedding day, 1956

Beverly Sills and Roy

July 23, 1971: Website co-creator Roy and Sills after a performance of Lucia Di Lammermoor at Wolftrap

Beverly Sills and Ed Specht

Long-time fan Ed Specht and Sills backstage at L.A.’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Dec. 4,1977 after a performance of “Die Fledermaus” by the New York City Opera on Tour.

Beverly Sills and Pat Miles

March 21, 1991: Sills and Pat Miles, Indiana University Auditorium after an “Evening with Beverly Sills”.

Beverly Sills and Billy Chittum

November 9, 1989: Sills and Billy Chittum at the Embassy Theater in Fort Wayne Indiana. Sills was the guest speaker at a Celebrity Lecture Series

Courtesy: Beverly Sills Home Page

 

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2016 in Sopranos

 

IRMGARD BARTH, Mezzo-soprano * 20 March 1913 Erfurt, † 13 July 1980 München;

Irmgard Barth (1913-1980) was a German mezzosoprano.

as Herodias (by courtesy of Manfred Krugmann)

Portrait (by courtesy of Manfred Krugmann)

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2016 in Mezzo-Sopranos

 

MIGUEL BURRO FLETA, Tenor * 1 December or 28 December 1897, Albalate de Cinca, Huesca Province, Aragon, Spain + 29 May 1938, A Coruña;

Miguel Burro Fleta (1 December or 28 December 1897, Albalate de Cinca, Huesca Province, Aragon, Spain – 29 May 1938, A Coruña) was a Spanish operatic tenor.

Despite his short stage career, lasting from 1919 to 1935, Fleta has been described as one of the most significant Iberian opera singers of the 20th century. Among the important international venues at which he sang were La Scala, Milan, (in 1923-26) and the New York Metropolitan Opera (in 1923-25). Additionally, in 1926, he had the honour of creating the role of Calaf in Puccini’s posthumously-premiered final opera, Turandot, at the insistence of La Scala’s principal conductor, Arturo Toscanini. But this taxing dramatic role took him to the limit of his resources and he did not attempt it again.

Fleta made his operatic debut in Trieste in 1919, having previously studied voice at the Madrid conservatory. Successful engagements in Rome followed, leading to his La Scala and Met debuts. He quit the Met in acrimonious circumstances, however, and the resultant legal action stopped him performing again in the United States.

He was celebrated during his best years for the finesse with which he used his rich, flexible voice. The most notable aspect of his performance style was the nimbleness of his bel canto technique. This enabled him to produce spectacular messa di voce and pianissimo effects. Unfortunately, Fleta’s singing became increasingly self-indulgent as his career progressed. By the late 1920s, as recordings show, his voice had deteriorated badly, with his vibrato loosening to an undesirable extent.

Fleta died in straitened circumstances in 1938. He nonetheless left a legacy of sometimes fascinating records, many of which are available on CD reissues.

Courtesy: Wikipedia

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Courtesy: LE GRANDI VOCI

Photo Courtesy of La Asociación Cultural Florián Rey de La Almunia de Doña

Carmen Mirat and Miguel Fleta’s wedding day

Resulta ng larawan para sa Miguel Fleta Carmen Mirat

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Carmen Mirat and Miguel Fleta / Foto de Mundo Gráfico (27 de abril de 1927)

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Carmen Mirat and Miguel Fleta on their Wedding Day

Interior de la iglesia de san Esteban durante la boda

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Carmen Mirat and Miguel Fleta during the banquet

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Foto: Nuevo Mundo (22 de abril de 1927)

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2016 in Tenors

 

ALICE MAY, Soprano * 1847 – 16 August 1887;

Alice May (1847 – 16 August 1887), sometimes known as Louise Allen, was an English singer and actress, perhaps best remembered as the creator of the soprano role of Aline in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Sorcerer (1877).

After musical studies as a child, May studied voice in London with the composer George Benjamin Allen. She began singing in his concerts. May and Allen began to have a relationship, and she travelled with him to Australia in 1870, where they performed together in concerts. Beginning in 1872, May began star in comic operas in Australia. May and Allen returned to England in 1876, where she continued to perform in Offenbach works, earning good notices.

In 1877, May created the role of Aline in The Sorcerer, earning warm reviews, but she left the company after only two months. She quickly returned to Offenbach in London under the management of Richard D’Oyly Carte and, by 1882, she was touring with Emily Soldene’s opera company. She split up with Allen and moved to the U.S. in 1883, where she performed first in New York but soon joined Charles Ford’s Opera Company in St. Louis and on tour. The next year, she married Louis Raymond, another member of the company. She was earning good notices, but she began to miss performances due to her growing struggle with alcoholism. She continued to perform on tour until 1887, when she became ill and died at the age of 40.

Biography

May was born in Yorkshire, England. She began to study music as a child. She sang amateur concerts in the 1860s.About 1868, she began to study voice in London with the composer George Benjamin Allen (1822–1897), with whom she later lived.

Early career

By 1869, May was singing professionally in Allen’s concerts. In 1870, Allen and May had an opportunity to perform in Australia and made the voyage posing as Mr. and Mrs. Allen. She made her Australian concert debut at the Princess’s Theatre, Melbourne, in 1870, receiving good notices. After building her reputation in concert work, May made her operatic debut with Lyster & Cagli’s Royal Italian Opera Company in 1872, soon becoming Australia’s leading comic operasoprano. She toured in New Zealand for a year, beginning in 1874, with Allen’s Royal English Opera Company, followed by seasons with that company in Australia (Melbourne and Adelaide) and India (Calcutta and Madras). 

After May and Allen returned to England, she first performed in Liverpool for R. W. South in December 1876, and later the same month she began to star at theGaiety Theatre, London, in the title roles of Offenbach’s La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein and La belle Hélène. She continued to star in operettas and became a client of Richard D’Oyly Carte’s artiste agency. The Observer wrote in January 1877, “a morning performance of The Grand Duchess was on Wednesday last given at the Opera Comique Theatre. Miss May proved herself a capable heroine of opera bouffe, both in her singing and her acting…. The Opera is [presented by] Mr R. W. South’s company”. She then toured in The Grand Duchess and other operettas, earning good notices while also singing songs, such as G. B. Allen’s “Unrest”, in concert. In May, she played Mlle Lange in Charles Lecocq’s operetta, La fille de Madame Angot. The Manchester Guardian wrote, “Miss Alice May [played] the part… with considerable power. Especially good was her acting in the scene in which the favourite realises that Clairette is her rival; in facial expression, in the tone of her voice, and in every gesture, Miss May succeeded in this scene in giving powerful expression to intense but subdued passion.”[18] After a recital in Belfast, Ireland, in early 1877, The Musical World printed not only a favourable review but also a celebratory poem dedicated to her. Her repertory was not restricted to comic opera; she was warmly praised as a Handel singer.

The Sorcerer and later London engagements

In the autumn of 1877, May’s theatrical agent, Richard D’Oyly Carte, engaged both her and Allen for his Comedy-Opera Company. For Carte, May created the role of Aline in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Sorcerer at the Opera Comique, and Allen became musical director of the production. The Sorcerer opened on 17 November 1877. May received warm reviews, and her Act I aria was encored. The Era wrote: “we may again compliment Miss Alice May upon her graceful impersonation of Aline and her artistic singing”. The Entr’acte and Limelight noted on 24 November 1877, “Miss Alice May vocalises with very good effect, and although she is known more as a vocalist than as a histrion, her acting seems as good as her singing.”The Observer commented, “Miss Alice May carries off the main honours among the ladies”. The following month, Allen was replaced as musical director, and in January 1878, May was replaced in the role of Aline.

Late in January 1878, she played Drogan in a revival of Jacques Offenbach’s Geneviève de Brabant in Islington at the Royal Philharmonic Theatre in a production also managed by Carte. Allen was the musical director. After this, May starred in The Little Duke (1878, Royal Philharmonic), La petite demoiselle and La princesse de Trébizonde (both 1879 at the Alhambra Theatre), Les mousquetaires (1880, Globe Theatre), Jeanne, Jeannette, and Jeanneton and The Bronze Horse (both in 1881 at the Alhambra). In March 1882, May was touring the British provinces with Emily Soldene’s opera company, when a train on which they were travelling narrowly escaped a high-speed collision with an express train. Soldene, May and other members of the company were slightly injured falling off their beds as the quick-thinking engineer of a loose engine “ran full tilt at” the train Soldene’s company were riding and quickly pushed it out of the way of the oncoming express train.

Last years in America

Allen and May separated in 1883, and she travelled to America. She debuted with the Barton English Opera Company in May 1883, in the title role of Michael Balfe’s Satanella at New York’s Standard Theatre. Her biographer, Adrienne Simpson, wrote that May was still reeling from her break-up with Allen and was drinking too much. This affected her performances and caused her to miss performances due to “indisposition”. Satanella was a failure. Charles Ford, a son of John T. Ford, hired May for his St. Louis, Missouri opera company performing at Uhrig’s Cave gardens and on tour. She first starred in F. C. Burnand and Meyer Lutz’soperatic burlesque of Bluebeard, which had opened in London earlier that year. The piece was a popular hit, and May received excellent notices. She then starred in H. B. Farnie and Robert Planquette’s Rip Van Winkle, another hit.

May married bass-baritone Louis W. Raymond, another actor with Ford’s Opera Company, in 1884. May toured in America for several years in light opera. She now played the contralto character roles, including Little Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore, Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance, Lady Jane in Patience, Jelly in Gilbert and Clay’sPrincess Toto, and Katisha in the first authorised American production of The Mikado at Uhrig’s Cave in St. Louis, in July 1885.

Although May achieved popularity as a touring performer in America, she continued to struggle with alcoholism and continued to miss performances. In 1887, she became very ill in St. Louis during a tour with the Bijou Opera Company. She died there, at City Hospital, only 40 years of age. She was buried in St. Louis by members of the company.

Alice May with George Bentham in The Sorcerer, 1877

 

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2016 in Sopranos

 

GLADYS SWARTHOUT, Mezzo-soprano * ( 25 December 1900, Deepwater, Missouri + 07 July 7 1969, Florence, Italy;

 

Gladys Swarthout was born Christmas Day, December 25th, 1900. The year of birth was often reported as 1904, probably in an attempt to avoid revealing her true age. This blessed event occurred in the Ozark mining town of Deepwater, Missouri into a family full of musical talent. Her sister Roma became a singing teacher in New York and two second cousins held the positions of Deans of Music, Donald Swarthout at the University of Kansas and Max Swarthout at the University of California. Given what we currently know about her, she would be a 6th cousin three times removed of the web master.
She was the daughter of Frank L. Swarthout, who worked for many years as a Pullman conductor for the railroad. She lived in Deepwater for several years when a young girl. “At one time the business men of Deepwater seriously considered changing the name of the town to Swarthout, in honor of my daughter, Gladys, the metropolitan opera singer who was born in Deepwater,” her father has been quoted. Although the plans for changing the name of the town did not materialize, it is an evidence of the high esteem and pride with which Deepwater regarded her most celebrated daughter. I have also heard that Gladys donated a set of stage curtains to the Deepwater High School, but haven’t been able to find specific documentation.

While a young girl she suffered from a number of common illnesses, and one of them was evidently rheumatic fever, though it wasn’t diagnosed as such until she was in her 50’s. The disease left her with a heart condition, a damaged mitral valve.

The family moved to 921 Cherry Street in Kansas City were she attended grade and high school, meanwhile taking vocal lessons, for early in life her lovely voice gave great promise. Her start came through her own self-confidence. Her frustration with the lead singer in the church choir in Kansas City led her to put up her hair and apply for the position herself. She was quickly hired to the paying position, though she was only 13! She graduated from New Central High School in Kansas City. She made her radio debut there in 1927 for WDAF-AM.

Right – High School picture of Gladys from Musical America, January 1938

Mr. Swarthout made only a small salary in those days, but the family made every sacrifice so that both Gladys and Romah Lee might have musical training. Gladys Swarthout studied under one of the best teachers, but soon it was necessary for her to study under teachers with an even wider knowledge of voice. Her teacher sent her to the Clark Conservatory of Music at Chicago. The family had found it difficult to finance the music lessons. When the head of the Conservatory heard Gladys sing and envisioned the fame and success that would be hers if she continued, he secured work for her to help pay the expenses. Later, she was giving a recital and missed a high note, so she made her teacher start again and this time she hit the note absolutely clearly; as a result, a wealthy Kansas family financed her musical education. After a four year course at this Conservatory, Miss Swarthout was employed by the Vienna Opera Company at Highland Park, Chicago.

From there Gladys Swarthout followed her bright particular star through a diversified singer’s existence, success following success wherever she appeared. At the age of eighteen she made her first appearance as a soloist with an orchestra, the occasion being a concert of the Detroit Symphony, which was then under the leadership of the late Ossip Gabrilowitsch. She attended the Metropolitan Junior College in Missouri.

At some point around this time she married Harry Kern of Chicago, an older man who was the general credit manager for the Hart-Schaffner & Marx Company, but she still retained her maiden name for her singing appearances.

Gladys was often helped by those around her. While studying at the Bush Conservatory of Music in Chicago, a group of friends formed a committee and arranged for an audition with the Chicago Civic Opera Company. Much to her surprise she ended up with a contract! And at the time she didn’t know a single operatic role! By her debut a few months later, she had memorized 23 parts and participated in over half of the operas presented that season. She sang for the Ravinia Opera Company of Chicago for three seasons. In 1929, she made her debut with the New York Metropolitan Opera Company, where she was a participant for several decades.

Frank LaForge, the musical accompanist and arranger, had built a studio on his father-in-law’s 2,700 acre summer estate at Loon Bay, the lake expansion of the Saint Croix River. Visitors in the 1920’s included such operatic proteges such as Lily Pons and Gladys Swarthout, who where good friends. They not only honed their talents but enjoyed camping forays along the river.

Her husband, Harry, passed away in 1931.

Etude August 1950 Illustration

 

An earlier Tennis shot.

Gladys during a fitting with designer Eulalie

Gladys with husband.

High School picture of Gladys from Musical America, January 1938

 

Different pose.

Same photo session!

One of her enjoyments was tennis.

This and the next shot are the same session. Note the dress and bracelet.

Gladys Swarthout, starring opposite Jan Kiepura in “Give Us This Night”, proves her theory that beauty and health go hand in hand and,

garbed in bright green jumper and dark green skiing trousers seeks her share of the wintry out-of-doors

A couple shots from this session can also be found on some of the advertising cards

Note the straw hat, the sandels and the striped robe behind her. This was in the 1935 Glamour Parade with the above shot.

This was with an article in a magazine. The swimming pool is in the backyard of her Beverly Hills home.

Still another shot from the great swim suit layout. This was published in a magazine in 1937

Deja Vu?

This daisy motif dress was one of the costumes from the movie Champagne Waltz.
1937

 

 

Here is Gladys in the hat sandels and striped robe seen

 

Paramount publicity photo.

Photo of Gladys in her dining room in Hollywood.

Look Magazine
1 February 1938
The red was raspberry jam to enhance the color of tomatoes that had been thrown at her as part of a publicity stunt. The scene was cut after test screening got a negative reaction.

A rare color publicity shot. This one is Spanish

In one of the articles Gladys did it discusses blowing bubbles as one of her daily exercises.

Courtesy of The Swarthout Family 

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2016 in Mezzo-Sopranos

 

KATHLEEN FERRIER, Contralto * 22 April 1912, Higher Walton, Lancashire, England + 8 October 1953 London, England;

Kathleen Ferrier as a young woman

Kathleen Ferrier was (and still is) one of the world’s great singers. Her appeal transcends all ages and seemingly all generations, more so perhaps than any other singer. She died more than fifty years ago, yet she is still remembered and her voice is still heard and loved by millions around the world.

Kathleen Mary Ferrier was born on 22 April 1912 at Higher Walton, a village near Preston in Lancashire in the North of England. She died in London on 8 October 1953. During her short career she went from one triumph to another, received the adulation of her peers, of critics and of audiences all over the world and still maintained her natural charm, nobility, humility, humour and love for truth, people and life.

Kathleen’s father was the village schoolmaster at Higher Walton. A good singer himself, he taught most of the music at the school. He later became a headmaster in Blackburn and the family moved there when Kathleen was two years old.

Kathleen did not begin her career as a singer. She was a keen member of the school choir but even then she had a big voice and she was usually asked just to stand at the back and sing quietly. Her mother, keen to encourage Kathleen’s musical interest, arranged piano lessons for her and, as a talented young pianist of only 14 she passed the final grade of the Associated Board of the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music. A newspaper of the time called this ‘an unprecedented success for so youthful a student.
Kathleen left school at 14 and went to work for the GPO in Blackburn, first in the telegrams department and then as a switchboard operator.

In July 1930, at the age of 18, Kathleen took part in her first concert as a pianist, which was broadcast from Manchester, and began to accompany many local singers in a musical scene which was very active in Lancashire. She regularly entered and won all the major music festivals, but had become interesting in singing and began taking some rudimentary lessons from the singers she accompanied.

By the time Kathleen was 23 she was married and living in Silloth, on the Cumbrian coast, where her husband was the local bank manager. Kathleen gave piano lessons to the local children. When she entered the prestigious Carlisle Festival in 1937 as a pianist, her husband bet her a shilling that she dare not enter for the singing contest as well as the piano prize. Never one to refuse a dare Kathleen accepted the challenge, entered the contralto solo class and not only carried off both trophies, but won the first prize for the best singer at the Festival. Carlisle was a turning point, and this brilliant new singer was in great demand. In 1939 she made her first radio broadcast as a singer.

Kathleen was approached by CEMA – the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts, and the forerunner of the Arts Council of Great Britain. It was now wartime and CEMA were doing an ENSA style job in bringing music to people in the factories, villages and hostels throughout Britain, during the war years. In June 1941 she signed up with CEMA and her professional career had effectively begun. The CEMA tours were hard but invaluable and important training for Kathleen. Wartime travel was extremely difficult and the venues were geographically haphazard, the North one day, South next, North the day after, and so on. She sang in church halls, cinemas, schools and factories – in fact anywhere where an audience could be got together.

In 1942 Kathleen sang for the great English conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent who told her that she had a great future, but that to further her career she must live in London. With the help of her sister, Winifred, the decision was made and they moved into a flat in Hampstead. Kathleen began lessons with the baritone singer Professor Roy Henderson who helped to improve Kathleen’s voice dramatically.

Kathleen FerrierKathleen’s career began to take off. She made records and became well known on the concert platform and in all the great oratorio works, particularly the Messiah and Elgar’s masterpiece The Dream of Gerontius. The composer Benjamin Britten wrote his second opera, The Rape of Lucretia, with Kathleen in mind for the title role.
Kathleen sang for the first time in New York in 1948, to great acclaim, and then began tours of America, Canada, Holland, Scandinavia and America again. The problems of travelling abroad were almost as bad as travelling at home. Stars in those days did not have the entourages they have now, and Kathleen was mostly on her own, coping with indifferent and sometimes non-existent hotel arrangements.

During 1951 Kathleen had an operation to remove a malignant breast tumour. This seemed to be successful and she resumed her career after a spell in hospital. She toured again, at home and abroad and was one half of many brilliant collaborations – with Roy Henderson, Benjamin Britten, Sir John Barbirolli and the great German conductor Bruno Walter, with whom she was instrumental in bringing the work of the composer Gustav Mahler to a much wider audience. Throughout 1952 she was dogged by problems of movement and it was found that further treatment was necessary. Determined as ever, she fulfilled as many of her commitments as she could between regular hospital visits. Eventually though, she was unable to meet the travel demands. She and Barbirolli were working on an English version of Orfeo and it was as much as she could do to keep up with this. Despite a further operation her condition continued to deteriorate and she was re-admitted to hospital where she died on 8 October 1953.

Kathleen Ferrier’s life was not a tragic one, even despite its brevity. She was forty-one years old when she died. In the ten years or so of fame which were granted her she achieved more than most singers achieve in a lifetime. In tribute Bruno Walter said that the greatest privileges in his life were to have known and worked with Kathleen Ferrier and Gustav Mahler – in that order.

Kathleen Ferrier with Bruno Walter at the piano

Kathleen as a pianist

Courtesy: Kathleen Ferrier Society

“A soul full of joy” (Bruno Walter)

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Miss Katherine Ferrier – Aged 30 years – 1942

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Kathleen as a young woman

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London portrait of Kathleen Ferrier.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2016 in Contraltos

 

GIUSEPPE DI STEFANO, Tenor * 24 July 1921, Motta Sant’Anastasia + 3 March 2008, Santa Maria Hoè;

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Born into a poor family at Motta Sant’Anastasia near Catania in Sicily, Giuseppe Di Stefano entered a seminary in 1934. After three years, a fellow student encouraged him to take singing lessons and he subsequently became a pupil of Luigi Montesanto and Mariano Stabile, who emphasized the importance of clear diction. In 1938 Di Stefano won a singing competition in Florence but his career was interrupted briefly by the outbreak of war in 1939. He was conscripted into the Italian army, but being seen as of greater value as a singer than a soldier, he was discharged and earned a precarious living as a singer of popular songs in Milan, performing under the name of Nino Florio. Following the German defeat in Italy, Di Stefano escaped to Switzerland, where he was briefly interned before being taken up as a tenor by Radio Lausanne. Here his repertoire extended from popular songs to complete operas.

After the end of the war, Di Stefano returned to Italy and made his official stage debut in 1946 at Reggio Emilia as Des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon. In 1947 he took the same role at La Scala, Milan, where he enjoyed immediate success. His American debut came in 1948 as the Duke in Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York and was quickly followed by appearances in Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.

Di Stefano soon became one of the most sought-after tenors of his generation. Until 1953 he sang lighter roles, such as Elvino / La sonnambula, Fritz / L’amico Fritz, Nadir / Les Pêcheurs des Perles and Wilhelm Meister / Mignon; with these he enjoyed great success as a result of his warm tone, expressive phrasing and lively personality. His singing of traditional Neapolitan songs also demonstrated his talents superbly. During the early 1950s he was a favourite singer at La Scala and the Met, although his cavalier attitude towards contracts caused him to be barred from the latter by Rudolf Bing between April 1952 and December 1955.

For Walter Legge and the UK Columbia label Di Stefano took part in numerous recordings made with the forces of La Scala. The most famous of these was Puccini’s Tosca, conducted by Victor De Sabata, with Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi (with both of whom Di Stefano sang frequently). Other distinguished recorded assumptions from this period included the Duke and Arturo / I puritani, both again with Callas, conducted by Tullio Serafin.

By 1957 Di Stefano had added Canio / Pagliacci, Don Alvaro / La forza del destino, Don José / Carmen, Osaka / Iris, Radamès / Aida and Turiddù / Cavalleria rusticana to his repertoire. He made his British debut in 1957 as a member of the La Scala ensemble that visited the Edinburgh Festival, singing one of his most famous roles, Nemorino / L’elisir d’amore (a part he also recorded for Decca). In the same year he and Callas opened the 1957–1958 season at La Scala with an account of Un ballo in maschera which is one of the most intense ever to have been committed to disc, officially or unofficially. The assumption of heavier parts during the latter part of the 1950s, however, caused Di Stefano’s singing to become more effortful; and by the time of his 1961 first appearance at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (in Tosca), time and good living had also begun to take their toll, exposing technical weaknesses in his voice-production.

Di Stefano’s last appearance at La Scala was in 1972 with Carmen, after which he undertook some less than wholly successful recitals with Callas. He made his final stage appearance with the Rome Opera in 1992 as the Emperor Altoum in Turandot.

In addition to his operatic repertoire, Di Stefano was a highly accomplished singer of lighter music. He enjoyed success in operetta, recording the role of Prince Sou-Chong in highlights from Lehár’s Das Land des Lächelns with the forces of the Volksoper in Vienna.

Despite his personal unpredictability, Di Stefano at his best ideally matched tonal warmth with dramatic conviction, and his many studio and live recordings represent a remarkable testimony to his art.

Courtesy: Naxos

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Giulini (holding Callas’ hand) with Ettore Bastianini (left) and Giuseppe di Stefano (right).

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Madama Butterfky, Chicago, 1955 Giuseppe Di Stefano – Pinkerton con Maria Callas – Cio-Cio San

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2016 in Tenors

 
 
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