VERDI: Arias from Don Carlo and Otello. PUCCINI: Arias from Manon Lescaut, Turandot, Madama Butterfly, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi.
Felcia Weathers, soprano; Vienna Opera Orch/Argeo Quadri, cond.
DECCA CLASSIC RECITALS 475 71677 (M) TT: 50:57

Verdi: Giovanna d'Arco (with Carlo Bergonzi, Rolando Panerai/RAI Chorus and Orch/Alfredo Simonetto, cond. (Milan, March 26, 1951). VERDI: La traviata (with Giacinto Prandelli and Gino Orlandini/RAI Chorus and Orch/Carlo Maria Giuilini, cond.(Milan, May 28, 1952). PUCCINI: Tosca (with Giuseppe di Stefano and Tito Gobbi/LaScala Chorus and Orch/Gianandrea Gavazzeni, cond. (Dec. 12, 1959). CATALANI: La Wally (with Giacinto Prandelli and Dino Dondi/RAI Chorus and Orch/ArturoBasile, cond. (Oct. 20, 1960). PUCCINI: La fanciulla del West (with Daniele Barioni and Giangiacomo Guelfi/RAI Chorus and Orch/Arturo Basile, cond. (July 8, 1961). GIORDANO: Fedora (with Giuseppe di Stefano and Mario Sereni/San Carlo Chorus and Orch/Arturo Basile, cond. (Dec. 14, 1961). BOITO: Mefistofele (with Carlo Bergonzi and Nicolai Ghiaurov/Orch/Chorus/Lamberto Gardelli, cond. (Jan. 25, 1966).
OPERA D'ORO OPD 56012 (14 disks) (B)

PUCCINI: Tosca (with Zinka Milanov, Giangiacomo Guelti/Covent Garden Chorus and Orch/Alexander Gibson, cond. (London 1957). GIORDANO: Andrea Chenier (with Renata Tebaldi and Ettore Bastianini/Vienna State Opera Chorus and Orch/Loro von Maracic, cond. (June 26, 1960). DONIZETTI: Poliuto (with Maria Callas, Ettore Bastianini and Nicola Zaccaria/La Scala Chorus and Orch/Antonino Votto, cond. (Dec. 7, 1960). MEYERBEER: Les Huguenots (with Joan Sutherland, Nicolai Ghiaurov and Fiorenza Cossotto/La Scala Chorus and Orch/Gianandrea Gavazzini, cond. (June 7, 1962). VERDI: Il trovatore (with Leontyne Price, Ettore Bastianini and Giulietta Simionato/Vienna State Opera Chorus and Orch/Herbert von Karajan, cond. (July 31, 1962. PUCCINI: Turandot (with Birgit Nilsson, Galina Vishnevskaya and Nicola Zaccaria/LaScala Chorus and Orch/Gianandrea Gavazzeni, cond. (Milan 1964).
OPERA D'ORO OPD 5602 (14 discs) (B)

WAGNER: The Flying Dutchman
George London (The Dutchman); Leonie Rysanek (Senta);Josef Greindl (Daland); Fritz Uhl (Erik); Res Fischer (Mary), Georg Paskuda (Steersman); Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orch/Wolfgang Sawallisch, cond. (Bayreuth 1959)
OPERA D'ORO OPD 1445 (2 disks) (B) TT: 2:06:28

American soprano Felicia Weathers' career was short, another singer whose assumption of roles not suited for her voice brought tragic consequences. In 1967 with Chicago's Lyric Opera she sang Renata in Prokofiev's Fiery Angel. The following year, Weathers sang Salome, Cio-Cio San and, in 1970, and, more suitably, Liu in Turandot (with Birgit Nilsson in the title role). Other roles which doubtless hastened her vocal decline, included Jenufa, Gunther Schuller's The Visitation, and Aida. In 1966 Weathers made this impressive recital record for Decca featuring Verdi and Puccini arias. Lovely performances indeed, and a sad reminder of what might have been. In 1967, she sang the part of the Fifth Maid in the famous Solti recording of Elektra, and for the same label recorded a group of folk songs and spirituals.Some collectors may know of a 1999 Belart issue (461 5922) licensed from Universal Classics that contained all of these. This Decca Classic Recital issue is like others in the series, containing what was on the original LP release, and reproducing original cover art and notes, the latter virtually impossible to read, and there is no biographical information about the artist.

Opera D'Oro is to be commended for their important super-budget-price issues devoted to Renata Tebaldi and Franco Corelli, live performances of the operas listed above capturing both artists in their prime. Some of these have been reviewed previouisly on this site; now the collector can have all in these bargain sets. There is a brief biography of each singer and a complete track listing but, of course, no librettos. Don't let these slip by.

Another major Opera D'Oro issue is the magnificent performance of Flying Dutchman from the 1959 Bayreuth Festival, two years before London and Rysanek made their famous Decca recording of the opera. They performed it together many times, and are at their finest in this live performance under Sawallisch's firm direction. The final scene is hair-raising; with Rysanek at her stunning best. This same recording also is available on Melodram at triple cost. Limited program notes, as usual with the label, but for collectors it won't matter.

R.E.B. (May 2006)