Arias from La Bohème, Tosca, Aida, Othello, Carmen, Mignon, Martha, Ein Maskenball, and Il Tabarro.
Hildegarde Ranzak, soprano; Orch/Seymour Meyrowitz, Afred Schmidt, Artur Rother, Clemens Krauss and Leopold Ludwig
PREISER 89639 (M) TT: 77:43

Arias from Il Barbiere di Sivglia, Il trovatore, Rigoletto, La traviata, Aida, Otello and .
Aldo Protti, baritone; Orch/Alberto Erede, Francesco Molinari Pradelli, cond.
PREISER 89641 (M) TT:

77:28

STRAUSS: Elektra. Death and Transfiguration, Op. 24.
Sigrid Ekkehard (Elektra); Margarete Klose (Klytämnestra); Hedwig Müller-Bütow (Chrysothemis); Günter Treptow (Aegisth); Gerhard Niese Orest);Berlin State Opera Orch/Lovro von Matacic, cond.
WEITBLICK SSS0049 (2 CDs) (M) TT: 52:37 + 75:40

PUCCINI: Arias from Turandot, Suor Angelica, Madama Butterfly, La villi, La Bohème, Tosca, and Manon Lescaut. VERDI: Arias from Aida, I lombardi, Attila, and Macbeth.
Ghena Dimitrova, soprano; Orch/Anton Guadagno/Lamberto Gardelli, cond.
EMI CLASSICS 41437 (B) TT: 74:49

Soprano Hildegarde Ranzak (1895-1987) began her career in Düsseldorf in 1918. In 1928 she made her first appearances in Munich, as Carmen and Tosca appearing there often up until 1944 in a wide variety of roles. She sang Strauss often including Aithra in the Munich premiere of The Egyptian Helen, as well as Salome, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Ariadne, and Capriccio. Her wide-ranging repertory also included Nedda, Aida, Mimi, Jenufa and Marta in Tiefland. Ranzak was a favorite of Clemens Krauss, a superb, vivid actress who sang impassioned performances, as evidenced in these Telefunken recordings made in 1932, two in 1942 for Grammophon, and two exciting broadcasts, one of an extended excerpt from Il tabarro (with Peter Anders and Mathieu Ahlersmeyer), the other the love duet from Tosca (with Helge Rosvaenge). In all of these( sung in German) we can hear Ranzak's distinctive pure sound, often reminiscent of Ljuba Welitsch. The Tabarro excerpt is incredibly dramatic. One wonders what other treasures might be in the archives of Berlin and Stuttgart radio.

Baritone Aldo Protti (1920-1995) had a powerful voice perfectly suited to the big Verdi roles. His ease in the upper register permitted him to add a high B-flat as Scarpia at the end of the first act of Tosca. Protti was a favorite at the Vienna State Opera and other European houses, but sang only once at the Met, in 1985 as Rigoletto, at the invitation of James Levine. Protti appeared often in recording studios in the '50's, and on this fine Preiser disk we can hear excerpts from many of those recordings, including duets with Cesare Siepi, Piero di Palma, Hilde Güeden, Renata Tebaldi, and Mario del Monaco. An important CD!

Elektra is heard in a live performance from the Berlin State Opera October 3, 1957 conducted by Lovro von Matacic, Croatian conductor who figured prominently in EMI recordings of the early '50's. His only commercial Strauss recording was of highlights from Arabella with Elisabeth Schwartzkopf, Nicolai Gedda, Anny Felbermayer and Walter Berry; there also exists a stunning 1943 broadcast performance of the final scene from Salome with Ljuba Welitsch issued on EMI which currently is not available. The cast for this Elektra is relatively unknown except for Margarete Klose, close to the end of her career, as Klytämnestra, and Günter Treptow who was known for his Wagner. Sigrid Ekkehard in the title role, and Hedwig Müller-Bütow as Chrysothemis, are taxed by these difficult roles but after they warm up have their moments. I liked the way Ekkehard slides down from her final note—very effective. Matacic proves that he is a fine Straussian, and the superb Death and Transfiguration recorded in a Berlin concert Jan. 18, 1958, one year before the conductor's death, is a welcome bonus. Recorded sound is adequate. No texts, but complete track information is provided.

Bulgarian soprano Ghena Dimitrova (1941-2005) had a powerhouse voice well-suited to Turandot and the bigger Verdi roles. In 1980 a performance of Gioconda with Luciano Pavarotti brought her international fame, and a few years later she made these EMI recordings now released on CD for the first time. Her voice is impressive indeed, in her fearless approach to the heroic Puccini and Verdi roles, not nearly as successful as Liu, Mimi or Musetta. Fine accompaniments and excellent sound, no texts.

R.E.B. (May 2006)