Carlo Bergonzi sings his farewell at Carnegie Hall.


Category:general -- posted at: 2:37pm EST

Ebe Stignani, Born July 11, 1903..The GREATEST EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have played you a lot of my all-time favorite mezzo,Ebe Stignani.Here on her July 11 birthday, is some info.on her great career. Much adored in opera circles.

Born in Naples in 1903[1] (some sources cite her year of birth as 1904[2]), Ebe Stignani studied music for five years at the San Pietro a Majella Conservatory in Naples, including piano and composition as well as singing. The date of her singing début is usually said to have been in 1925 at the San Carlo opera house in Naples, in the role of Amneris in Verdi's Aida, but there is evidence that she may have sung a number of roles in the previous year. In 1926, she was invited to La Scala Milan by Arturo Toscanini to sing the part of Princess Eboli in Verdi's Don Carlo, and Milan continued to be a principal stage for her during the rest of her career. She sang all of the major Italian mezzo-soprano roles, but also tackled Wagner's Ortrud (Lohengrin) and Brangäne (Tristan und Isolde), and Saint-Saëns's Dalila (Samson et Dalila) conducted by Victor de Sabata.

She appeared with the San Francisco Opera in 1938 and again in 1948 but never at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She toured extensively in North America in the years after World War II. Her first appearance at Covent Garden was in 1937, as Amneris, and she returned to London a number of times, notably in the role of Adalgisa in partnership with Maria Callas's Norma in 1952 and 1957. In the second of the two 1957 performances the thunderous and sustained applause after the duet Mira O Norma led conductor John Pritchard to encore that last part, apparently the only time she ever sang an encore in opera in her career. She also appeared frequently in South America, including the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, and in many other European cities outside Italy including Paris, Madrid, and Berlin (where she sang in 1933, 1937 and 1941). Among the new roles which she created during her career were Cathos in Felice Lattuada's Le preziose ridicole (1929), and La Voce in Respighi's Lucrezia (1937).

She retired from the stage in 1958 after appearances in London (as Azucena) and in Dublin (as Amneris). Thereafter, she lived quietly in retirement at her home in Imola. She had married in 1941 and given birth to a son in 1944.

Stignani's voice was large and rich in tone, if sometimes hard-edged, and evenly balanced throughout its considerable range (extending from a low F to a high C). It had sufficient flexibility for her to undertake such roles as Rossini's L'italiana in Algeri, but it was in noble, dramatic parts that she was heard to greatest effect. Critics often referred to the grandeur of her performances. By her own account, she was short and plump, and she admitted her shortcomings as an actress, but she achieved dramatic power and characterization through the quality of her voice and technique. She knew her priorities: speaking to Lanfranco Rasponi, she said, "I was given a magnificent gift, and in a way I am like a priestess, for I feel that it is my responsibility to keep the flame lit in the best possible manner... I am Stignani because of my voice". She was highly disciplined in her choice of roles and in the number of appearances she made, refusing to take assignments which she felt were not right for her voice, and this no doubt contributed to the longevity of her career at the highest level.

Category:general -- posted at: 11:11am EST

THANK YOU ALL (AGAIN!!!)

  Hello all,

      Every time I read the stats and see what interest you have in these podcasts,I am truly happy I can contribute to your pleasure. After all, I was turned on to opera by others, and so I am thankful to them that I can return the favor to you. I thank you again for all your sincere interest.

                                                As ever,

                                                     Carlo Magno, traditore(???)

Category:general -- posted at: 2:12pm EST

   I was told..and correctly, that the Rigoletto debut was Joe Calleja....I can KILL the person who labelled it wrong..Maybe I need to listen to my own podcasts, and now i have to write Piotr and apologize.........

Category:general -- posted at: 6:26pm EST

More Rise Stevens and a "friend."

  This was at our last club meeting in 1960 out at Rise's home on Long Island. The guy next to her did have hair at the time but look, time marches on!! How can I ever forget her?

Category:general -- posted at: 12:01pm EST

In Loving Memory of Shirley Verrett

Born on May 31, 1931, I have always felt that Shirley Verrett ranks way up there with Simionato,Cossotto,etc. She was a marvelous singer, who blew the roof off with a magnificent voice, and I will never forget her. We lost her in 2010, but her memory lives on.

Category:general -- posted at: 5:42pm EST

Happy Birthday, Teresa Stratas

  "My aunt sings opera," said a kid in my Spanish class one day. I thought to myself, "Big deal!." I was polite..."What is her name???"   TERESA STRATAS!!!!!!

Born May 26, 1938, she has had many emotional problems,but who can doubt her great artistry...Best to her!!!

Born: May 26, 1938 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Genre: Opera

Stratas is one of the controversial stars of the latter half of the twentieth century, and one whose personality and life, like that of Callas, another great soprano of Greek descent, are inextricably linked with her performances in the minds of many members of the public. Also like Callas, she had a special magnetism as a performer, due to her dramatic intensity and exceptional physical beauty. Her top became weak during her middle and late career and she lost some focus in the middle of her voice, which sometimes caused her to force. However, her performances on stage and on film were so riveting that most were willing to forgive those vocal flaws, and even her habit of canceling, usually due to nerves.

She grew up in Toronto and began singing in nightclubs and in her father's restaurant when she was twelve. Encouraged by her successes, including radio performances, and after being given a free ticket to La Traviata, an experience which she said overwhelmed her with the concept of what the human voice can do, she auditioned for the Opera School at the Royal College of Music in Toronto in 1954. She had never studied voice, knew opera only from that one performance, and brought Smoke Gets in Your Eyes as her audition piece, but her personality and potential talent were so impressive that she was admitted, and was such a quick learner that she made her debut with the Canadian Opera as Mimi in 1958, and won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air the next year, making her debut as Pousette in Manon the next year. In 1960, she created the title role of Glanville-Hicks' Nausicaa at the Athens Festival. Her Covent Garden debut was again as Mimi in 1961, and in 1962, she made her La Scala debut as Isabella in de Falla's Atlantida. In 1974, she came to international fame with her appearance as Salome on a television production of Salome, considered one of the very few singers in living memory who could convincingly portray Salome's transformation from naive teenager to depraved woman. In 1979, she sang the title role of the first performance of the three-act version of Berg's Lulu at the Paris Opera.

In the 1980s, she almost completely withdrew from the operatic stage, though she made notable recordings of Weill songs, and appeared in films of La Traviata and Amahl and the Night Visitors. She also explored Broadway, earning a Tony Award for best actress for her performance in Rags in 1986, and recorded Julie in Showboat. In 1981, she backpacked through India, where among other activities, she volunteered for Mother Teresa's projects in the poorest areas of the cities. In 1988, she returned to the Met to create the role of Marie Antoinette in Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles.

Category:general -- posted at: 11:55am EST

Remembering "Bubbles."

   Let us remember the great Beverly Sills, born on May 25, 1929. She was an amazing artist, and was able to take a basically light coluratura voice, and often turn it into a voice that thrilled even in more dramatic roles. Rest in Peace.

Category:general -- posted at: 9:25pm EST

Birgit Nilsson's Birthday

 Someone must have done something right on May 17, because both Zinka Milanov and Birgit Nilsson were born.(Nilsson in 1918, Zinka in 1906). Anyone here who never saw Nilsson live would need OXYGEN if they heard what that was like in live performance. She was an absolute MIRACLE in opera history, and beloved lady to all.

Swedish soprano Birgit Nilsson was born on May 17, 1918 in the town of Vastra Karup in the province of Skane (Scania) in southern Sweden. She married Bertil Niklasson, a veterinary student she met on a train, on September 10, 1948.

Miss Nilsson made her operatic debut on October 9, 1946 as Agathe in Der Freischütz with only 3 days notice. Her debut came shortly after she had joined the Swedish Opera School. After her brief stint as Agathe, Miss Nilsson made her breakthrough performance as Lady Macbeth in 1947 at the Royal Opera in Stockholm.

Miss Nilsson attained international stardom after a performance as Isolde in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on December 18, 1959. She says, though, that the single biggest event in her life was when she was asked to perform at the opening of the 370th season at La Scala as Turandot on December 7, 1958.

In 1966, Miss Nilsson was asked to appear in a rather unusual performance at the Metropolitan Opera. During a showing of Tannhäuser, she was asked to sing the parts of both Venus and Elisabeth. They did not appear on stage at the same time, of course!

Birgit Nilsson is probably best known for her portrayals of Turandot in Turandot, Brünnhilde in Richard Wagner's Der Ring Des Nibelungen (a role with which she made her La Scala debut in 1958), Isolde in Tristan und Isolde, and Elektra in Elektra. Miss Nilsson is also known for her interesting relationship with Rudolf Bing. When Bing was asked if Birgit was difficult, he replied, "Not at all, you put enough money in and a glorious voice comes out." When preparing her taxes Miss Nilsson was asked if she had any dependents. "Yes," she said, "Rudolf Bing." Miss Nilsson retired from opera in 1984.


Comments? E-mail me here! (Please note: I am NOT Birgit Nilsson! I am just the person who made this page.)

Category:general -- posted at: 11:26pm EST

God bless my Zinka!!!

 For May 17, Zinka's birthday (1906).No one thrilled me more from my first opera experiences and she became my favorite singer. Was I cute at 19? (Don't answer that!!!)   Never to be forgotten!!!!!

Born in Zagreb, Croatia as Zinka Kunc (pronounced [zîːŋka kûnt͡s]), she studied with the Wagnerian soprano Milka Ternina and her assistant Marija Kostrenčić. She also studied in Milan with Campi and in Vienna with Stickgolt. On October 29, 1927, she made her operatic debut as Leonora in Giuseppe Verdi's Il Trovatore in Ljubljana, Slovenia, at the young age of 21. Her debut in her native Croatia, at the National Theatre in Zagreb, took place five weeks later as Marguerite in Charles Gounod's Faust

After an early debut in Dresden (November 5, 1928, also as Leonora), her teacher, Ternina, was not pleased and much work commenced to perfect her technique. She performed in Zagreb and Ljubljana almost exclusively for the next six years. Later she became a member of the New German Theatre in Prague, where all performances were sung in German. She was discovered there by Bruno Walter, who recommended her to Arturo Toscanini for a performance of Verdi's Requiem in Salzburg.

In 1937, the soprano made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera, once again as Leonora. At that time she adopted the name Milanov, which was the stage name of her second husband, an actor. According to Milanov herself, "Kunc" wasn't "glamorous" enough for the Metropolitan Opera. In the article "Zinka Takes Off" (Opera News, November 2004, vol 69, no. 5), it is stated that the name change was deemed necessary since the gentlemen at the Met feared the "implications inherent in what they predicted would be the standard American mispronunciation — but they were never forthright with her about it".[citation needed] On November 8, 1937, Erich Simon, who was in charge of engaging Milanov, cabled Edward Ziegler, the assistant manager of the Met, "Mme Zinka KUNZ-MARCOVIC has informed me that she wishes to perform under her husband's stage name, MILANOV."[citation needed]

She was in romantic relationship with Marshal of Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito, before he married Jovanka Broz. In 1947, she left the Met when she married, for the third time, to Yugoslav general and diplomat Ljubomir Ilić, and returned to live in Yugoslavia.[citation needed] She was at the peak of her artistic and vocal powers when she made her debut at the Teatro alla Scala as Tosca in 1950. Milanov returned to the Metropolitan Opera the same year, invited by Rudolf Bing in his first year there as general manager.[citation needed]

She gave her final performance in 1966 at the closing night of the old Metropolitan Opera House. Having worked as a voice teacher while still performing, Milanov devoted herself to teaching after her retirement. Among her pupils were Betty Allen, Grace Bumbry, Christa Ludwig, , Dubravka Zubovic and Milka Stojanovic. She recorded prolifically from the 1940s through to the 1960s. Her voice was well-suited to Italian operas such as those of Verdi, Ponchielli, Puccini and the verismo composers. She died in New York City, aged 83.

Category:general -- posted at: 11:15pm EST


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