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Monthly Archives: August 2016

HENRI ALBERS, Baritone * 01 February 1866, Amsterdam + 12 September 1926, Paris;

Henri Albers, born Johan Hendrik Albers was a Dutch-born opera singer who later became a French citizen. He sang leading baritone roles in an international career that spanned 37 years and was a prominent singer at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels and the Opéra-Comique in Paris, which was his base from 1900 until his death. He also sang in 36 performances with the Metropolitan Opera company from 1898 to 1899. He made many recordings for Pathé Records and specialised in the heavier baritone and basso cantante repertoire.

Albers was born in Amsterdam and initially trained and worked as an actor. He then studied singing at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and was engaged by Johannes George De Groot to sing with his newly established Hollandsche Opera company. He made his operatic debut in 1889 as Méphistophélès in a Hollandsche Opera production of Gounod’sFaust and during the next two years continued singing leading roles with the company. In 1891, on the recommendation of De Groot, he met with the French composer Jules Massenet and auditioned for him. Massenet was impressed and encouraged him to study further in Paris and to broaden his horizons beyond Amsterdam. After further singing studies in Paris with Jean-Baptiste Faure, Albers made his first stage appearance outside Holland when he was engaged by the French opera company in Antwerp. In 1892, he sang Jean d’Hautecoeur in the company’s first production of Alfred Bruneau’s Le rêve and began a lifelong friendship with the composer, appearing in many of his operas.

After Antwerp, Albers was engaged as Principal Baritone at the Opéra de Bordeaux and went on to sing at the Royal Opera Housein London and the Opéra de Monte-Carlo. He was engaged by the Metropolitan Opera in 1898 and sang with the company both on tour and in New York City. He made his company debut on 8 November 1898 as Mercutio in the Met’s touring performance ofRoméo et Juliette in Chicago. He remained with the company through 1899, appearing 36 times in eight different operas and tackling his first Wagnerian role, Wolfram in Tannhäuser. On his return to Europe he sang regularly at the Théâtre de la Monnaiein Brussels from 1901 to 1906 and added several more Wagnerian roles to his repertoire: Telramund in Lohengrin; Hans Sachs inDie Meistersinger von Nürnberg; Wotan in Das Rheingold, Siegfried, and Die Walküre; and Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde. A highly versatile singer, he also appeared in the title roles of La Monnaie’s productions of Hamlet, Rigoletto, Hérodiade, and Le roi Arthus, as well as singing Count di Luna in Il trovatore, Iago inOtello, and Baron Scarpia in Tosca.

In 1899, he had also been engaged by the Opéra-Comique in Paris where he sang leading baritone and bass-baritone roles for the next 25 years in 39 different operas. Although it became his “home” opera house, he continued to appear at La Monnaie, the Paris Opéra, and several other European opera houses from time to time. He became a naturalized French citizen in 1920. In late August 1926 at Aix-les-Bains, Albers once again sang the role of Jean d’Hautecoeur in Le rêve.A month later, he died in Paris of a sudden illness at the age of 60. At the time of his death, he was on the administrative council of the Union des Artistes dramatiques et lyriques des théâtres français.

Source: Wikipedia

Albers photographed circa 1920

As Hamlet in Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet

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Henri Albers by Dupont

Arthur Darmel, Andre Bauge and Henri Albers in ”Pagliacci”

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2016 in Baritones

 

EUNICE DOROTHY ALBERTS, Contralto * 27 November 1922, some sources say 1927 Boston, Massachusetts + 13 April 2012, Boston, Massachusetts;

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Eunice Alberts (1927–2012) was an American contralto who had an active career as a concert soloist and opera singer during the 1950s through the 1980s. She began her career as a concert soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the young age of 19 and quickly became a lauded oratorio singer during the late 1940s and the early 1950s. She began her opera career with the New York City Opera in 1951. She went on to have a successful opera career with companies throughout the United States, ultimately forging a strong partnership with Sarah Caldwell’s Opera Company of Boston that lasted from 1961 to 1988. She notably sang in a number of United States premieres in Boston and appeared in a few world premieres in New York City. Although Alberts made a number of impressive achievements in the field of opera, her legacy remains in the numerous appearances and recordings she made with major symphony orchestras in the United States. She was particularly successful as a soloist in the great choral works of J.S. Bach, Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven.

Early life and career
Born in Boston, Alberts attended the Girls’ Latin School in her native city during her youth; earning her diploma there in 1940. She was later awarded the school’s outstanding alumni award in 1990. She studied singing with Cleora Wood and Rosalie Miller at the Longy School of Music, earning a certificate in vocal performance. She also studied at the Tanglewood Music Center where she drew the attention of conductor Serge Koussevitzky. She made her concert debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) as the contralto soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at the Tanglewood Music Festival in August 1946. Shortly thereafter she joined a madrigal group led by Nadia Boulanger with which she toured North America and Europe for two years. She made several more appearances with the BSO during the late 1940s and early 1950s in annual appearances at Tanglewood, singing as a soloist in works like Bach’s Mass in B Minor (1950) and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (1951).

Alberts moved to New York City in 1950 where she became a pupil of impresario Boris Goldovsky. Her first concert appearance in NYC was as the contralto soloist in Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the John Harms Chorus at Town Hall on April 30, 1950. She made her first appearance with the New York Philharmonic in a summer concert at Lewisohn Stadium on June 4, 1951 as the contralto soloist in Verdi’s Requiem under conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos. This performance drew the attention of Laszlo Halasz, then director of the New York City Opera (NYCO), who offered her a contract to join the roster of singers at the NYCO. She accepted the offer and on October 4, 1951 Alberts made her professional opera debut as the Elderly Woman in the world premiere of David Tamkin’s The Dybbuk at New York City Center. Later in the 1951-1952 NYCO season she portrayed Maddalena in Rigoletto and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with the company.

Alberts quickly became one of America’s leading contraltos during the 1950s, singing in concerts and operas throughout the United States. In 1953 she was a soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Temple University Chorus, and conductor Eugene Ormandy. She also sang with the orchestra that year in several works by Bach at the Bethlehem Bach Festival. The year 1955 proved to be a banner year for Alberts. That year she sang Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion and the world premiere of Howard Hanson’s Sinfonia Sacra with the Philadelphia Orchestra and sang Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the New York Philharmonic under conductor Leonard Bernstein at United Nations General Assembly Hall with soprano Adele Addison. She also joined the roster of singers at the Lyric Opera of Chicago where she sang for two highly acclaimed seasons. She made her debut with the company on November 11, 1955 as Enrichetta to Maria Callas’s Elvira in Vincenzo Bellini’s I puritani. This was followed by a portrayals of Inez to Callas’s Leonora in Verdi’s Il Trovatore and Suzuki to Callas’s Cio-Cio-San in Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Other roles she sang with the company during the 1955-1956 season included, Marthe in Charles Gounod’s Faust with Jussi Björling in the title role, Lucia in Cavalleria rusticana with Giuseppe di Stefano and Carlo Bergonzi alternating in the role of Turiddu, and the Old Woman in Italo Montemezzi’s L’amore dei tre re with Dorothy Kirsten as Fiora and Robert Weede as Manfredo. In the 1956-1957 Chicago season, Alberts portrayed Wowkle in La fanciulla del West with Eleanor Steber as Minnie, Madelon in Umberto Giordano’s Andrea Chénier with Mario Del Monaco in the title role, the Page in Salome with Inge Borkh in the title role, and Grimgerde in Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre with Ludwig Suthaus as Siegmund.

Following her stint in Chicago, Alberts performed leading roles with the Kansas City Opera, the New Orleans Opera, the Cincinnati Opera, and the Houston Grand Opera during the late 1950s and 1960s. In 1956 she sang in Verdi’s Requiem with the Connecticut Orchestra at the Stratford Festival. In 1960 she portrayed Emilia in Verdi’s Otello with the Opera Society of Washington in Washington D.C. That same year she gave a lauded performance for her New York City recital debut at Town Hall. In 1961 she returned to the NYCO to sing Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, Mrs. Cripps in H.M.S. Pinafore, and Rebecca Nurse in the world premiere of Robert Ward’s The Crucible.

Later life and career
During the early 1960s Alberts decided to return to school, having never actually earned a college diploma. She entered the New England Conservatory, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1967. During this time she continued to perform in concerts and operas. In 1963, upon the death of President John F. Kennedy, Alberts sang in the pontifical mass honoring Kennedy which was broadcast nationally on CBS. She performed with the BSO in Mozart’s Requiem. In 1964 she sang in a number of Schubert works with the BSO under conductor Erich Leinsdorf. In 1965 she was the contralto soloist in performances of Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s B Minor Mass at Avery Fisher Hall under conductor Hermann Scherchen.

As an opera singer Alberts was highly active with Sarah Caldwell’s Opera Company of Boston during the 1960s through the 1980s. Her first performance with the company was as the mother in Hänsel und Gretel which was followed shortly thereafter with a performance of Mistress Quickly in Falstaff in 1961. She sang regularly with the company over the next seventeen years, notably appearing in the United States premieres of Arnold Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron (as the invalid woman, 1966), Roger Sessions’s Montezuma (as Cuaximatl, 1976), Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmilla (as Ratmir, 1977), Rodion Konstantinowitsch Schtschedrin’s Tote Seelen (1988), and Rodion Shchedrin’s Dead Souls (as Maslennilov, 1988). Her other Boston roles included Magdalena (1962), the voice of Antonia’s mother in The Tales of Hoffman (1965), Kseniya’s nurse in Boris Godunov (1966), Mother Goose in The Rake’s Progress (1967), Countess Geschwitz in Lulu (1968), Alice in Lucia di Lammermoor (1969), Mary in The Flying Dutchman (1970), The Good Soldier Švejk (1970), Suzuki (1974), Princess Marya Bolkonskay in War and Peace (1974), Beda Balanco in La vida breve (1979), Wessener’s mother in Die Soldaten (1982), Junon in Orpheus in the Underworld (1982), and Alkonost in The Invisible City of Kitezh (1983) among others.

Source: Wikipedia

Portrait

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As Amneris in Aida

 

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2016 in Contraltos

 

BENIAMINO GIGLI, Tenor * 20 March 1890, Recanati, Italy + 30 November 1957 Rome, Italy;

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The Italian tenor, Beniamino Gigli, had received lessons from Agnese Bonucci, before he won a scholarship to the Liceo Musicale. His teachers were Cotogni and Enrico Rosati. In 1914 he won an international competition at Parma.

On October 14, 1914, Beniamino Gigli made a successful début in La Gioconda at Rovigo. In 1915 his Faust in Arrigo Boito’s Mefistofele was highly appreciated at Bologna under Tullio Serafin and at Naples under Pietro Mascagni. Spain was the scene of his first successes abroad, in 1917. The climax of his early career was his appearance in the memorial performance of Mefistofele at La Scala November 19, 1918. On November 26, 1920 he made a brilliant début (again in Mefistofele) at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where he remained as principal tenor for 12 consecutive seasons, singing no fewer than 28 of his total of 60 roles.

In the lyrical and romantic repertory, Beniamino Gigli was regarded as the legitimate heir of Caruso (Martinelli excelled in the more dramatic and heroic parts). The operas in which he was most often heard were La bohème, La Gioconda, L’Africaine, Andrea Chénier and Mefistofele. His Covent Garden début was in Andrea Chénier on May 27, 1930, with subsequent appearances in 1931, 1938 and 1946. In 1932 he left the Metropolitan, declining to accept a substantial reduction of the salary paid him before the Depression. Thereafter he pursued his career more actively in Italy, elsewhere in Europe, and in South America, returning to the Metropolitan, for five performances only, in 1939 . A favourite of Mussolini, Gigli was at first under a cloud after the dictator’s fall, but returned to sing in Tosca at the Rome Opera in March 1945 , and in November 1946 reappeared at Covent Garden with the S Carlo company in La bohème, with his daughter, Rina Gigli, as Mimì. He continued to appear in opera at Naples and at Rome as late as 1953, and in concerts almost until his death.

Smoothness, sweetness and fluency were the outstanding marks of Beniamino Gigli’s singing. His style was essentially popular, both in its virtues and its limitations: natural, vital and spontaneous on the one hand, but always liable to faults of taste – to a sentimental style of portamento, for instance, or the breaking of the line by sobs, or ostentatious bids for stage applause ‘like a picturesque beggar appealing for alms’ (Ernest Newman). He missed refinement in W.A. Mozart, and was unequal to the technical demands of ‘Il mio tesoro’; in Giuseppe Verdi he was more at home, although notably happier when, as in the second scene of Un ballo in maschera or the last act of Rigoletto, his grandees had adopted popular disguise; best of all in Giacomo Puccini and the melodramatic lyricism of Andrea Chénier and La Gioconda. His mellifluous cantilena in such pieces as Nadir’s romance in Les pêcheurs de perles was consummately beautiful. Gigli was something less than a great artist; but as a singer pure and simple he was among the greatest.

His many recordings offer a complete portrait of his long career; outstandingly successful are the arias from Mefistofele, Martha, L’elisir d’amore, La Gioconda and Faust, duets with Giuseppe De luca from La forza del destino and Les pêcheurs de perles, and the complete recordings of Andrea Chénier and La Bohème. Gigli was also a seductively charming interpreter of Neapolitan and popular songs, and delighted 1930’s cinema audiences with his portrayals of ingenuous and lovestruck tenors.

Source: Bach Cantatas Website

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Beniamino Gigli in the 1920s

Baritone Antonio Cotogni’s class at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome

Antonio Cotogni (center row, center), Beniamino Gigli (top row, right), Enrico Rosati (center row, 2nd from right)
Photograph owned by and scan, property of Harmonie Autographs and Music, Inc.

Beniamino Gigli

Beniamino Gigli with cash register, circa 1920

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2016 in Tenors

 

ELISABETH SCHWARZKOPF, Soprano * 09 December 1915, Jarotschin, Germany + 03 August 2006, Schruns, Austria;

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Born Olga Maria Elisabeth Frederike Schwarzkopf, December 9, 1915, in Jarotschin, Germany; died August 3, 2006, in Schruns, Austria. Opera singer. German lyric soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf enjoyed a stellar career in opera for several decades, but in later years her legacy was overshadowed by charges that she had been a Nazi sympathizer in the 1930s and ’40s. Nevertheless Schwarzkopf was renowned for her singing prowess in the works of Richard Strauss, the German Romantic composer, and in both these and other classic stage roles, Schwarzkopf “mastered the very highest octaves with remarkable precision and breath control,” asserted Washington Post writer Adam Bernstein. “Adding to her allure were her stunning Teutonic looks and a commanding stage presence.”

Schwarzkopf came from a Prussian family in the city of Jarotschin, in what is now Poland. At the time of her birth in 1915, the area was part of imperial Germany and had a large German-speaking population. Her father was a scholar and teacher, and the family later moved to the city of Magdeburg in the Saxony-Anhalt province of Germany, where she spent her teen years and began her formal musical education. Around 1932, when she was 17, the Schwarzkopfs moved to Berlin, where two years later she began studies at its Hochschule fuer Musik.

Schwarzkopf’s professional career began with the renowned Deutsche Oper in 1938, and she made her debut as a coloratura soprano with a small role in the opera Parsifal . Her breakout performance came in 1940 when she played Zerbinetta in the company’s production of Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos . This period of her career, however, was complicated by Germany’s political situation: Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist, or Nazi Party, firmly controlled all aspects of life, including cultural institutions, and had launched a full-scale military expansion into the rest of Europe. Schwarzkopf officially joined the Nazi Party, took part in propaganda films, and traveled to German-occupied Paris in 1941 for a performance of the opera Die Fledermaus for an audience comprised of Nazi officials and sympathizers in the city.

When World War II ended in 1945 with Germany’s defeat by Allied British, American, and Soviet forces, Schwarzkopf underwent questioning by their military personnel. She reportedly lied about her party membership status, an accusation that would return to haunt her some 50 years later. Both Germany and Austria underwent a de-Nazification program after the war, and those who had been Nazi Party members could expect their career and travel options to be somewhat restricted at the time. Schwarzkopf’s professional status was aided by her reacquaintance with a British record producer named Walter Legge in 1946 in Vienna, where she was then living. Legge subjected her to a punishing audition in which he forced her to sing the same phrase from one song for more than an hour, but then signed her to a recording contract with EMI. She also joined the Vienna State Opera, and traveled with them to London’s Covent Garden for a 1947 production of Don Giovanni as Donna Elvira, which would become one of the signature roles of her career.

A year later, Schwarzkopf appeared at the prestigious Salzburg Festival with Herbert von Karajan, the conductor with whom she would work with many times in both stage productions and in the recording studio, and also made her debut at La Scala, Milan’s famous opera house. She and Legge mar- ried in 1953, and she enjoyed a successful career over the next quarter-century as a sought-after soprano for the aristocratic female lead in several classic operas, among them The Marriage of Figaro as the Countess, Cosi fan tutte as Fiordiligi, Capriccio ‘s Countess Madeleine, and the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier , another Strauss classic. Her 1956 studio version of this opera, done with Karajan and the London Philharmonia, is considered one of the consummate recordings among Strauss-lovers.

Critics were divided on the merits of Schwarzkopf’s voice, however. A New York Times tribute by Anthony Tommasini cited two reviews from the newspaper’s archives: One claimed “she had a superior voice (a smooth, glamorous lyric soprano) and superior technical command,” while another asserted her fame was “a triumph of intelligence and willpower over what was basically an unremarkable voice.” Like many opera stars, her vocal talents declined with age, and she gave her farewell performance in Brussels as the Marschallin in 1971, though she still continued to sing lieder recitals until 1978. Her husband, who had played anintegral role in promoting her career, died a year later.

In 1992, Schwarzkopf was honored with a DBE, or Dame of the British Empire title, by Queen Elizabeth II. Four years later, a biography of her by Alan Jefferson was published that revealed controversial details about her early career in Nazi Germany and the answers she gave to the de-Nazification review board; she had apparently answered “no” on three different questionnaires about whether she had ever been a member of the Nazi Party. An affirmative answer might have prevented her from performing in Germany and Austria in those years, and certainly made traveling to London for her 1947 Covent Garden debut more challenging. It was an issue that had surfaced periodically over the years of her career, including her 1964 debut at the Metropolitan Opera of New York, which was marked by protests. Though she had later admitted to joining the Nazi Party, she pointed out that in most professions it was practically obligatory at the time. “It was akin to joining a union, and exactly for the same reason: to have a job,” she wrote in a letter to the New York Times , according to Tommasini’s obituary.

Schwarzkopf spent her retirement years in Zürich, Switzerland, and later in Schruns, Austria, where she died at home on August 3, 2006, at the age of 90. She and Legge had no children, but when a reporter once asked her if she did, she replied, “I have 500 children,” according to the New York Times . “The songs I sing.”

Source: Encyclopedia of World Biography

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf::::8 Sep 2015::Warner Classics::Angus McBean::

Photographer: Angus McBean
Copyright: Warner Classics

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf::::8 Sep 2015::Warner Classics::Angus McBean::

Photographer: Angus McBean
Copyright: Warner Classics

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf::::8 Sep 2015::Warner Classics::Angus McBean::

Photographer: Angus McBean
Copyright: Warner Classics

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf::::8 Sep 2015::Warner Classics::Angus McBean::

Photographer: Angus McBean
Copyright: Warner Classics

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf::::8 Sep 2015::Warner Classics::Angus McBean::

Photographer: Angus McBean
Copyright: Warner Classics

Photographer: Angus McBean
Copyright: Warner Classics

Photographer: Angus McBean
Copyright: Warner Classics

Photographer: Fayer Wien

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf::::::Warner Classics::ELISABETH SCHWARZKOPF:: ELISABETH SCHWARZKOPF
Copyright: Warner Classics

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf::::::Warner Classics::ELISABETH SCHWARZKOPF::

ELISABETH SCHWARZKOPF
Copyright: Warner Classics

 

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2016 in Sopranos

 

GIANNINA ARANGI-LOMBARDI, Soprano, * 20 June 1891, Marigliano, some sources say 1890 + 09 July 1951, Milan;


Giannina Arangi-Lombardi (20 June 1891, Marigliano – 9 July 1951, Milan) was a prominent spinto soprano, particularly associated with the Italian operatic repertory.

After studies in Naples at the Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella with Beniamino Carelli, she made her debut in Rome in 1920, singing mezzo-soprano roles for the next three years. After further studies with the retired singers Adelina Stehle and Tina Poli-Randaccio, she made a second debut as a soprano in 1923.

She sang at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan from 1924 to 1930, making her debut as Elena in Boito’s Mefistofele, under the baton of Arturo Toscanini. Rapidly invited to all the great opera houses of Europe, although she never appeared in Paris or London, she also sang to great acclaim in South America. She was chosen by Dame Nellie Melba to take part in her farewell tour of Australia in 1928. The tour included Arangi-Lombardi creating the title role in the Australian premiere of Puccini’s Turandot.

Arangi-Lombardi was especially renowned in roles such as La vestale, Lucrezia Borgia, La Gioconda, and Aida. She sang in the first Italian performance of Ariadne auf Naxos. She appeared at the Salzburg Festival in 1935 but retired from the stage, while still in good voice, three years later. She then taught at the Music Conservatory in Milan, and later in Ankara, where she had the well-known soprano Leyla Gencer as a pupil.

She died in Milan shortly after her 60th birthday from undisclosed causes.

Arangi-Lombardi can be heard to impressive effect in four complete opera recordings, Aida (1929), Cavalleria rusticana (1930), La Gioconda (1931, with Ebe Stignani as ‘Laura’), and Mefistofele (as Helen of Troy to Nazzareno De Angelis’s Mephisto) (1931).

Source: Wikipedia

as Amneris Scala 1950

as Donna Anna Salzburg 1935 (Collection G&K)

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on Tour Buenos Aires 1926

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2016 in Sopranos

 

RICHARD TUCKER, Tenor, * 28 August 1913, Brooklyn, Kings, NY, United States + 08 January 1975, Kalamazoo, MI, United States;

 

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Brooklyn-born tenor Richard Tucker had a unique dual career. As one of the great voices of the Metropolitan Opera, Tucker made his debut there as Alfredo Germont in Verdi’s “La Traviata” in January, 1945, and became a specialist in the Italian and French lyric roles. Among his most famous roles with the company were Rodolfo in Puccini’s “La Boheme,” B.F. Pinkerton in the same composer’s “Madama Butterfly,” Don Jose in Bizet’s “Carmen,” and Radames in Verdi’s “Aida.” The latter, in addition to many performances at the Met, was also a role he sang in a televised concert performance under Arturo Toscanini and on a special Met broadcast performance in honor of Enrico Caruso’s centeniary in February, 1973.

Concurrently with his operatic career, Tucker, an Orthodox Jew, was regarded as one of the finest cantors ever, ranked in the company of the great Josef Rosenblatt and Moishe Oysher. His recordings of the cantorial literature on American Columbia records are regarded as among the finest of their kind, and he traveled to Vietnam to preside over High Holy Day services there at the behest of the USO. Although he recorded the role of Canio in Leoncavallo’s “I Pagliacci” in 1953, he did not perform it on stage until 1970, at which time he scored one of his last great triumphs.

Privately, Tucker was regarded as a warm, friendly man who was devoted to his God and his family. He and the former Sarah Perelmuth (the sister of his Met colleague and rival, Jan Peerce) were married for over thirty years and had three sons and numerous grandchildren.

He was also well known for his waggish sense of humor. During the protracted death scene for the baritone in Verdi’s “Don Carlo,” Tucker, in the title role, leaned over to baritone Robert Merrill and whispered, “Will you hurry up and die? I’ve got to catch the train for Great Neck in 45 minutes!” Merrill, one of Tucker’s closest friends off-stage, had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing. I

Today, the most successful American tenor ever to sing with the Met, and one of the greatest American tenors ever, is honored with a portrait at the Met’s Founder’s Hall. That, and his considerable recorded legacy, will ensure that his name will live forever in operatic and cantorial annals.

Richard Tucker was born Rivn (Rubin) Ticker in Brooklyn, New York, into a family of immigrants from Bessarabia (then a province in the Russian Empire) – Samuel and Fanya-Tsipa Ticker. His musical aptitude was discovered early, and was nurtured under the tutelage of Samuel Weisser at the Tifereth Israel synagogue in lower Manhattan. As a teenager, Tucker’s interests alternated between athletics, at which he excelled during his high-school years, and singing for weddings and bar mitzvahs as a cantorial student. Eventually, he progressed from a part-time cantor at Temple Emanuel in Passaic, New Jersey, to full-time cantorships at Temple Adath Israel in the Bronx and, in June 1943, at the large and prestigious Brooklyn Jewish Center. Until then, Tucker’s income derived mainly from his weekly commissions as a salesman for the Reliable Silk Company, in Manhattan’s garment district.

On February 11, 1936, Tucker married Sara Perelmuth, the youngest child (and only daughter) of Levi and Anna Perelmuth, proprietors of the Grand Mansion, a kosher banquet hall in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. At the time of Tucker’s wedding to their daughter, the Perelmuths’ musically-gifted eldest son, Yakob, had progressed from a part-time jazz violinist and lyric tenor vocalist to a national radio star who had already set his sights on an operatic career.

Under the management of the legendary Sol Hurok, the eldest of the Perelmuth offspring, now re-named Jan Peerce, reached his goal when the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera Company, Edward Johnson, offered him a contract after an impressive audition. When Peerce made his much-acclaimed debut at the Met on November 29, 1941, his sister and her new husband were living with Peerce’s parents while Tucker was trying to make a success as the sole proprietor (and only employee) of a silk-lining sales business, while also officiating at Temple Adath Israel in the Bronx.

Although Peerce remained skeptical of Tucker’s ability and did not overtly encourage his operatic ambitions (which led, unfortunately, to a permanent rift between the two brothers-in-law and their families), Peerce did play a role in introducing Tucker to conductor and arranger Zavel Zilberts, who coached Tucker until he came to the attention of Paul Althouse, a notable tenor whose operatic career had begun during the last years of Enrico Caruso’s long reign at the Met. Althouse became Tucker’s only teacher. In a rare moment of the pupil disregarding the teacher’s advice, Tucker entered the Metropolitan Opera “Auditions of the Air” in 1941, but did not win.

When Met general manager Edward Johnson came unannounced to the Brooklyn Jewish Center to hear Tucker sing, however, Johnson offered the tenor another audition and soon awarded him a contract. On December 15, 1945, under the baton of Emil Cooper, Tucker made his debut as Enzo in La Gioconda. The debut, one of the most successful in the annals of the Met, foretold Tucker’s 30-year career as the leading American tenor of the postwar era.

Two years after his Metropolitan debut, Tucker was invited to reprise his success in La Gioconda at the cavernous amphitheater in Verona, Italy, for which the retired tenor and Verona native, Giovanni Zenatello, had also engaged a young overweight, unknown Greek-American soprano named Maria Callas.

Contemporary reviews of the 1947 Verona performances of La Gioconda verify that Tucker’s success considerably surpassed Callas’s, a fact overshadowed by the soprano’s eventual worldwide acclaim. Two years later, in 1949, Tucker’s rapidly ascending career was confirmed when Arturo Toscanini, the most celebrated Italian conductor of the twentieth century, engaged Tucker to sing the role of Radames for the NBC simulcasts of a complete performance of Aida opposite Herva Nelli in the title role, an event heard and seen on radio and television, and eventually released on LP, CD, VHS, and DVD. This was the first full opera performance ever broadcast on national television.

In the ensuing years, Tucker’s ample lyric voice evolved into a lirico-spinto voice of near-dramatic proportions. If his signature stylistic devices, especially his affection for Italianate sobs, were not always lauded by the critics, the distinctive timbre of his ringing voice, his unfailingly secure technique, impeccable diction, and native-sounding pronunciation were universally acclaimed in every role he undertook.

During an era in which a plenum of legendary tenors including Jussi Björling, Giuseppe Di Stefano and Mario del Monaco (and, eventually, Jan Peerce) came and went during the years in which (Sir) Rudolf Bing led the Metropolitan, Tucker remained a dominant tenor and steadily took on new challenges. Although an indifferent actor throughout most of his career, Tucker made a strong dramatic impression with veteran critics when he re-conceived the role of Canio in Pagliacci under the direction of Franco Zeffirelli in January 1970. The tenor was nearly 60 years old at the time.

Before and after each Metropolitan Opera season, Tucker appeared on concert stages through the U.S. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, his appearances in a series of “Puccini Night” open-air concerts at the landmark Lewisohn Stadium in New York City, under the direction of Alfredo Antonini, often attracted audiences of over 13,000 enthusiastic guests.

Through his opera career, Tucker also officiated as a cantor during Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and other sacred events in the Jewish liturgical calendar. A devoted but strict patriarch, Tucker oversaw the religious development of his three sons

Barry (Beryl) Tucker, b. 1938;
David N. Tucker, M.D.,b. 1941;
Henry R. Tucker, Esq., b. 1946),
and arranged for them to sing with him on a popular television program hosted by Sam Levenson in the early 1950s.

Tucker had a long-running contract with Columbia Records, and eventually recorded for RCA Victor as well. But measured against the sheer length of his career, Tucker’s commercial recordings are proportionately sparse and inadequately convey the power and roundness of his voice, according to most of his artistic colleagues. Many of his commercial recordings, as well as private recordings of his concerts and broadcast performances, have been digitally remastered and are available in CD and online downloadable formats. A number of his national television appearances on “‘The Voice of Firestone'” and “‘The Bell Telephone Hour'” were preserved in kinescope and videotape form, and have been reissued in VHS and DVD format.

Regrettably, a complete video performance of the tenor’s searing portrayal of Canio in the Zeffirelli production of Pagliacci, which was to be paired with Cavalleria rusticana featuring Tucker’s friend and tenor colleague Franco Corelli as Turiddu, was never telecast and has not been issued commercially because of legal reasons.

Although Tucker’s well-crafted public image was that of a competitive, overwhelmingly self-confident performer, his offstage demeanor was that of an inherently private but unfailingly considerate man, especially where fans and colleagues were concerned. Never prone to looking back upon his career, Tucker always lived in the moment and maintained a boyish outlook on life. He also displayed a propensity for playing pranks on some of his fellow singers, often provoking a smile at some inappropriate moment in a performance; once during a broadcast of La forza del destino with baritone Robert Merrill, Tucker had sneaked a nude photograph into a small trunk that Merrill was supposed to open onstage. In later years, Merrill described his tenor friend as “an original, right out of the pages of a Damon Runyon story.”

Ironically, Merrill was touring with Tucker in a national series of joint concerts when, on January 8, 1975, Richard Tucker died of a heart attack while resting before an evening performance in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He is the only person whose funeral has been held on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. In tribute to his legacy at the Met, the city of New York designated the park adjacent to Lincoln Center as Richard Tucker Square.

Shortly after his death, the Richard Tucker Music Foundation was established by his widow, sons, colleagues and friends “to perpetuate the memory of America’s greatest tenor through projects in aid of gifted young singers.” In the intervening decades, the Richard Tucker Foundation, whose annual televised concerts have been hosted by Luciano Pavarotti and other opera stars of the past and present, has consistently awarded the largest vocal-music grants and scholarships. Recipients include Renée Fleming, Deborah Voigt, Alessandra Marc and other opera singers of international renown. Source.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/photos.geni.com/p13/05/36/ae/f1/5344483b1479fc9c/rtucker-samtickerfamily_original.jpg

Family Photo:

Proud patriarch Israel (Sam) Ticker (center) with his family in 1926. Seated (left to right) are Daniel Nacman, holding his infant daughter, Ruth; Claire Nacman; Claire Parness; Abe Parness, holding his infant son, Larry; Daniel Parness.

Standing (left to right) are Minnie (Mrs. Daniel Nacman); Celia (Mrs. Louis) Tucker; Louis Tucker; Fannie Ticker; Rubin (Richard Tucker), then thirteen; Norma (Mrs. Abe Parness): and Rae Tucker. (courtesy of Mrs. Richard Tucker)

The Tucker Family celebrating the Jewish Sabbath at home.

The Tucker Family celebrating the Jewish Sabbath at home.

http://digital.lib.buffalo.edu/upimage/24424222892004_C17_041.jpg

Richard Tucker as Turiddu

Richard Tucker and Eileen Farrell

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2016 in Tenors

 

FANNY ANITÙA, Contralto, * 22 January 1887, Durango Mexico + 04 April 1969, Mexico City;

Anitúa was born in the city of Durango. Daughter of Antonio Sarabia Anitúa, mining, and Josefa Medrano Yanez. The father moved with his wife and two daughters to Topia, Durango, when Fanny was three years old. From an early focus was on school holidays, as it had an innate musical talent. At age 10 she had won a radio contest and a contract to sing on a local radio station.

Anitùa initially studied singing in her native city, moving afterward to Mexico City, and later to Rome. She debuted at Teatro Nazionale in Rome in 1910, singing the role of Orfeo from the eponymous Christoph Willibald Gluck opera. She often sang at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, especially in Sigfried (1910-11 season), Etra in the first edition of Ildebrando Pizzetti’s Fedra (1914-15 season), Konciakovna in Borodin’s Prince Igor (1915-16 season), and besides Gluck’s Orfeo, Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore and Un Ballo in Maschera (1923-26 seasons). She sang in other important Italian theaters, including Teatro Rossini in Pesaro and Teatro Regio in Parma, performing Il barbiere di Siviglia (1916) and La Cenerentola (1920), and very often in South American theaters such as Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, especially as Olga in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (1911) and as Amneris Verdi’s Aida (1939).

She has been considered one of the last true contraltos in the history of modern singing with low notes, wide and deep, with a sonorous and extended voice and with a solid technique that allowed her to perform Rossini despite the limited knowledge of coloratura at that time. One of her many students was the tenor José Sosa Esquivel.

Anitùa did not release many recordings, but there is a full edition of Carmen and a few opera pieces edited by Columbia.

Repertoire

  • Gluck
    • Orfeo ed Euridice
  • Gioacchino Rossini
    • Il barbiere di Siviglia
    • La Cenerentola
  • Giuseppe Verdi
    • Aida
    • Il trovatore
    • Un ballo in maschera
  • Richard Wagner
    • Siegfried
    • Lohengrin
    • Tristan und Isolde
    • Die Walküre
  • Georges Bizet
    • Carmen
  • Alexander Borodin
    • Prince Igor
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    • Eugene Onegin

Source: Wikipedia

as Carmen

Portrait

with “Barbiere” -Team: De Angelis, Macnez, Kaschmann, Zanella and Galeffi Parma 11. Mar. 1916

with “Barbiere” -Team (close-up)Parma 11. Mar. 1916

Portrait

Stamp

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2016 in Contraltos

 
 
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