SALVATORE BACCALONI sings arias from The Barber of Seville, Don Pasquale, L'Elisir d'Amore, Crispino e la comare; Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro, La Serva padrona, The Italian Woman in Algiers, and other music of Petrella, De Ferrari, Pedrotti, Nutile, Filippi and Pecchia
PREISER 89615 (F) (ADD) TT: 75:26

JOSEF METTERNICH sings arias from The Marriage of Figaro, The Barber of Seville, Rigoletto, La traviata, Il trovatore, A Masked Ball, Faust, Carmen, The Tales of Hoffman, Pagliacci and Lohengrin
PREISER 93442 (F) (ADD) TT: 71:53

BENIAMINO GIGLI (Volume 9) Music of De Curtis, Melichar, Bach, Bizet, Franck, Schumann, Grieg, Cilea, Becce, Curci, Blanc, Puccini, Verdi, Bixio, Tosti, Cinque, Tosti, Denza and Rossini
NAXOS 8.110270 (B) (ADD) TT: 73:29

VERDI: Arias from Aida, A Masked Ball, Otello and Ernani
Leontyne Price, soprano; Israel Philharmonic Orch/Zubin Mehta, cond.

"AMERICAN SONGS" by Ives, Bernstein, Moore, Griffes and Beach
Deborah Voight, soprano; Brian Zeger, pianist
EMI CLASSICS 57964 (F) (DDD) TT: 51:47

Once again we are indebted to Preiser for issuing, in very fine transfers, compilations of recordings made by famous singers of the past. Salvatore Baccaloni (1900-1969) apparently had remarkable stage presence and sang a wide variety of baritone roles ranging from Pergolesi, Donizetti and Rossini through Puccini, Verdi and some Wagner, and was a great favorite at La Scala. Preiser's disk, supplementing their previous issues of this artist, features 14 Columbia recordings dating from 1928-1943. Baritone Josef Metternich (1915-2005) had a distinguished career at the height of which he was featured in five major opera houses: East and West Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Vienna, giving 150 performances a year. He appeared in a number of major recordings conduced by Von Karajan and Fricsay, and retired in 1971. This is Preiser's second disk devoted to arias sung by the baritone, and there are no duplications from the first CD (90125); they also have issued his1950 recording of Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer (90536) and Wagner's Flying Dutchman recorded in 1952 (20036). All performances on the new CD were made in 1953-1954 and show him at the height of his powers, surely an imposing presence on the operatic stage.

Thanks to Naxos and Mark Obert-Thorn we have Volume 9 of Beniamino Gigli's recordings, this one featuring Berlin, Milan and London recordingsfrom 1936-1938. As always, transfers are superb—but this series is available in the United States only as an import. Leontyne Price's Decca Verdi recital was recorded in 1980, rather late in the soprano's career, when her voice had a dusky quality, particularly in the lower register. Still, these are majestic performances although the CD has brief playing time (50:13) as it contains only what was on the original LP release (Decca SCL 6971)—with the same jacket notes as the LP, reduced to fit the jewel box making them virtually impossible to read. Fans of Price surely will wish to own this even though her earlier recordings of the same music are vocally superior.

After glorious singing from the disks mentioned above, we come to a disappointing release, Deborah Voight's latest EMI CD containing 25 songs by American composers, an imaginative selection ranging from Charles Ives to Leonard Bernstein. The diva, who lost about 80 pounds with the help of surgery, has been acclaimed on operatic and concert stages since her weight loss which was precipated by her being fired from the Royal Opera because she was so large she couldn't fit into a costume for performances of Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos. This set of Americana was recorded January 2005 in New York. Unfortunately, except at loud volume, Voight seems to be unable to sing without a distressing wobble, decidedly unpleasant to hear. In Strauss or Wagner, where she can let it rip, the vibrato isn't as noticeable, but in these intimate songs Voight is less than effective. Credits include the diva's personal, make-up, and hair stylists. No mention of a much-needed vocal coach for this repertory. Complete texts are provided. CD information doesn't include total playing time, perhaps because it is only 51:47.

R.E.B. (Sepember 2005)