Arias from Cosi fan tutte, Der Zauberflöte, Tannhäuser, Rigoletto, Andrea Chenier, Tosca; lieder of Schubert and Mussorgsky.
Marko Rothmüller, bass-baritone; various orch/cond.
PREISER 89705 TT: 77:30
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Arias from Il trovatore, Otello, L'africana, Carmen, Werther, La Gioconda, Cavalleria rusticana, Andrea Chenier, Manon Lescaut, Turandot, Cavalleria rusticana, I pagliacci, La fanciulla del West, Sly, and Madama Butterfly
NINO PICCALUGA, tenor
PREISER 89700 TT: 75:02
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Arias from Ruyslan and Ludmilla, A Life for the Tsar, The Snow Maiden, Les Huguenots, Der Zauberflöte, I Puritani, La Bohème, Lakmé, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Lucia di Lammermoor, Hamlet, I vespri siciliani and The Tsar's Bride; music of Delibes, Arditti, Tosti, and Denza
Antonina Nezhdenova, soprano; various orch/cond.
PREISER 89704 TT: 78:38
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Arias from Il trovatore, Aida, Tristano e Isotta, La Gioconda, Fedora, Adriana Lecouvreur, Werther, Carmen, and Un ballo in maschera; lieder of Brahms, Grieg, and Strauss
Cloe Elmo, contralto; various orch/cond.
PREISER 89691 (F) TT: 73:17
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Duets from La Bohème, Don Pasquale, Faust, Les Troyens, Roméo et Juliette, Carmen, Werther, Tosca, Aida, and La traviata
Angela Gheorghiu, soprano; Roberto Alagna, tenor; orch. cond. by Claudio Abbado, Richard Armstrong,m Antonio Pappano and Michel Plasson
EMI CLASSICS 14599 TT: 76:18
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Here are four Preiser releases of great interest to collectors. Croatian-born baritone Marko Rothmüller (1908-1993) made his debut in 1932 in Hamburg singing Ottokar in Der Freischütz. From 1935-1947 he was a member of the Zurich Opera singing a wide variety of roles in Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, and contemporary music as well (he studied composition with Alban Berg). Rothmüller also sang with the Vienna State Opera (1946/1947), and the New York City Opera (1948-1952) followed by two seasons at the Metropolitan Opera. In 1955 he became a professor at Indiana University in Bloomington where he lived until his death in 1993. Rothmüller was a distinguished singer, noted for his singing of operas by Berg, Stravinsky, Zemlinsky, Hindemith, Schoeck, and Richard Strauss. After a decade of research, he wrote The Music of the Jews: An Historical Appreciation. Rothmüller can be heard in Beecham's live 1939 Royal Opera House recording of Smetana's The Bartered Bride, and as Jochanaan in Strauss's Salome with Clemens Krauss and the Vienna Philharmonic (with Maria Cebotari in the title role), recorded live in Covent Garden in 1947 (see REVIEW). Rothmüller's virile baritone can be heard on Preiser's new CD in a wide variety of roles as well as lieder, performances recorded during his prime, 1943-1950.

Italian tenor Nino Piccaluga (1890-1974) had a distinguished European career that, unfortunately, was quite short. Illness caused him to retire in 1935 although he lived another four decades. Piccaluga was a favorite of Riccardo Zandonai and sang in several of his operas. He sang Boris Godunov (Dimitri) and Manon Lescaut (Des Grieux) under Arturo Toscanini, and often appeared with the greatest singers of the time. Tall and handsome, he created quite an impression. Subtlety was not a part of his singing, but his sheer volume and vibrant ringing sound offered some compensation. These recordings were made for Parlophon and Fonotipia in 1928-1929. Unfortunately they do not include music from operas of three composers associated with him: Zandonai, Montemezzi, and Alfano, except for an aria from the latter's Sly.

Preiser's disk devoted to Russian coloratura soprano Antonina Nezhdanova (1873-1950) gives collectors the opportunity to hear this soprano who was considered to be among the finest of her time. Even before completing her studies, she sang in Glinka's A Life for the Tsar with the Bolshoi Opera and remained with the company for three decades. Although she received many offers from leading opera houses (including the Met and LaScala) she sang only one performance outside Russia: Rigoletto in Monte-Carlo (partnered by Enrico Caruso and Titta Ruffo!). Her repertory was broad and she promoted music of Scriabin, Arensky and Glazounov; Rachmaninoff wrote his Vocalise for her. From 1924 she was one of the most popular radio performers in the Soviet Union, and later had an extensive teaching career. On this CD she can be heard in Mozart, Bellini, Puccini, Verdi, Delibes and Auber as well as several Russian operas. These are acoustic recordings made from 1907-1914, and it could not be said that the primitive equipment was kind to her; yet this is a welcome opportunity to sample singing of this famous Russian soprano.

Italian mezzo-soprano Cloe Elmo (1909-1962) made her debut as Santuzza in 1934 and immediately joined La Scala, where she specialized as Azucena, a role in which she appeared at the Met in 1947, where she sang only a few years (at her debut, Elmo was partnered by Stella Roman, Kurt Baum and Leonard Warren). Arturo Toscanini chose her to sing Mrs. Quickly in his 1950 recording of Falstaff (a live 1951 recording from La Scala conducted by Victor De Sabata is available), and there also are several other live performances—check ArkivMusic listings. After a few years of limited performances at the Met, Elmo returned to Italy where she taught. In 1954 Elmo was appointed professor of music at Ankara where she remained until her death. Many of her favored roles are included on Preiser's disk, along with lieder of Brahms, Strauss and Grieg, recordings made from 1940-1952, all displaying her remarkably rich voice and total control. The Grieg and Strauss songs are identified as "bad dubbing," but they sound just fine. A welcome issue!

The legion of fans of Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu will probably welcome their latest joint endeavor, a very full disk (76:18) of duets, some extracted from complete recordings, and all previously issued. Both are in pristine vocal condition. No texts, just brief adulatory comments in three languages.

R.E.B. (October 2008)