MARIA IVOGÜN  "The Complete Odeon Recordings"
Arias of Mozart, Bellini, Rossini, Verdi, Bizet, Puccini, Meyerbeer and Cornelius; music of Johann Strauss, Jr., Chopin and dell' Aqua

PREISER  89237 (2 CDs) (F) (ADD) TT: 78:55 & 75:23
Ivogün, one of the leading coloratura sopranos of the first part of the 20th Century, was born in Budapest Nov. 18, 1891. After study at the Vienna Academy, she auditioned for the State Opera—and was rejected.  Only with the strong intervention of Bruno Walter was she given the opportunity to sing in the conductor's new company in Munich where she slowly developed into a leading soprano in Puccini, Mozart and Donizetti.  Appearances in Chicago and New York were highly successful although it is rumored Amelita Galli-Curci used her considerable influence at the Met to keep the younger soprano from taking over her roles, particularly Rosina, for which Galli-Curci was famous. Ivogun was married to tenor Karl Erb; after their divorce she married pianist Michael Raucheisen. By the mid-'30s she had retired from the operatic stage and began her famous career as a teacher, her students including Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. 

Preiser's 2-CD set contains Ivogün's complete Odeon recordings of 1916-1917 many of which have never been issued in any format.  All are sung in German and there are many duplications—five recordings made 1916-17 of "Teurer Name, dessen Klang" (Caro nome) from Rigoletto,  three each of "'s ist seltsam" (E strano) from La traviata and an excerpt from the Mad Scene of Lucia di Lammermoor.  There are six duets (from Don Pasquale, La Bohème, La Traviata, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Carmen and Der Barbier von Bagdad in which she is joined by her then-husband, tenor Karl Erb, who later became recognized as a leading interpreter of lieder. Ivogün's pure, accurate singing—and remarkable trill—are apparent throughout this worthy album, although there are a few climactic high notes that are rather pinched—remember these are all a single take! 

Highly recommended—and essentia—for admirers of coloratura singing.  Look for NIMBUS 7832 which features, in addition to five tracks from the Preiser collection, a dozen other later (1923-1932) recordings by Ivogün, a CD that might be hard to find now that the label, unfortunately, has closed shop. 

R.E.B. (July 2002)