Otello by Rossini

What a shame that I did not know who Virginia Zeani was, when in 1968 the Rome opera brought Otello by Rossini to the Met. Well,at least we have this document featuring one of our favorite sopranos. This is from 1960 Rome under Fernando Previtali, and also features Agostino Lazzari as Otello, Giuseppe Baratti as Iago,Franco Ventriglia as Elmiro, and Anna Reynolds as Emilia. Look for the plot on Wikepedia or other sites. (70 min.)

Direct download: Otello_Rossini.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:58pm EDT

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 EDT

In memory of George London on his birthday.

 In memory of the marvelous George London, on his May 30th birthday, we shall hear duets  from Eugen Onegin (with Valerie Bak), Aida (with Astrid Varnay, Arabella (with Eleanor Steber, arias from Prince Igor,Flying Dutchman, and a scene from act one of Parsifal. Also included,from a live recital, are the Mussorgsky "Songs and Dances of Death." We pay tribute to this glorious artist.   (71 min.)

Direct download: London_Birthday.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:50pm EDT


 For May 30, we wish the marvelous mezzo,turned soprano,Olivia Stapp, a very happy birthday. She has been one of our finest artists, and you will hear scenes from Elektra, Macbeth, Anna Bolena (as both Seymour and Anna), and Tosca (with Nicolai Gedda).    (60 min.)

Direct download: Stapp_Birthday.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:34pm EDT


Highlights from an Italian version of Berlioz's "Les Troyens" from La Scala, 1960 under Rafael Kubelik. Mario del Monaco,Giulietta Simionato(Dido),Nell Rankin (Cassandra). and Nicola Zaccaria (Narbal) are in the cast.    (67 min.)

Direct download: Troj.Del_Mon..mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:20am EDT

Forza del Destino, 1953

An all-star Forza from New Orleans, 1953 under Walter Herbert. In the cast are Zinka Milanov, Mario del Monaco, Leonard Warren, William Wilderman, and Norman Treigle (Marchese). Need I say more???   (72 min.)

Direct download: Forza_Orleans.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:49am EDT

An All-star Simone Boccanegra

  Yes, they did once make them like this:  A brilliant Scala 1972 Simone Boccanegra which features Piero Cappuccilli,Mirella Freni,Nicolai Ghiaurov, Gianni Raimondi, and Felice Schiavi (Paolo). The conductor is Claudio Abbado. (and stop telling me I only like dead and retired singers!!!)  (72 min.)

Direct download: Simone_Capp..mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:44pm EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

Francesca da Rimini w.Olivero,Del Monaco

 From Scala,1959 under Gianandrea Gavazzeni, highlights from Zabdonai's exciting opera, Francesca da Rimini, featuring Magda Olivero, Mario del Monaco, Gianpiero Malaspina (Gianciotto), Piero de Palma (Malatestino), etc.   (68 min.)

Direct download: Francesca_Magda.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:01pm EDT

An All-star Falstaff

 From 1958 Chicago under Tullio Serafin, here is a really fabulous cast in Verdi's "Falstaff," with Tito Gobbi,Cornell MacNeil,Renata Tebaldi,Giulietta Simionato,Anna Moffo,Alvino Misciano, and Anna Maria Canali.  (62 min.)

Direct download: Falstaff_Gobbi.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:38pm EDT


 Most of the early Verdi opera "Alzira," from Rome 1967, under Franco Capuana. The cast features Virginia Zeani (Alzira), Cornell MacNeil (Gusmano), Gianfranco Cecchele (Zamoro), and Carlo Cava (Alvaro).      (72 minutes)

Direct download: Alzira.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:16pm EDT

Medea with Leonie Rysanek

Highlights from a live 1972 Vienna Medea under Horst Stein. The remarkable Leonie Rysanek is the Medea, with Bruno Prevedi, Lucia Popp, and Nicolai Ghiuselev completing the cast.  (54 min.)

Direct download: Medea_Rysanek.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:34pm EDT

Waltraute in Gotterdamerung

 A comparison of six marvelous mezzos in the Act One Waltraute Monologue from Die Gotterdamerung.  In order they are:

   Rosette Anday, Elizabeth Hoengen, Margarete Klose, Hanna Schwarz, Christa Ludwig, and Martha Moedl (who was a mezzo at the start and end of her career.).

  I wish to call your attention to the magnificent Youtube rendition by Katharine Goeldner, if you wish to go there. It is surely as fine a rendition as the above.  (62 min.)

Direct download: Waltraute.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:38pm EDT

Very Loud tenors

 A pot-pourri of tenors from the earlier part of the 20th century who excelled in a very bright and powerful top range for the most part. Those included (in order on the podcast) are:

Leonce Escalais, Bernardo de Muro, Eduardo Garbin, Mario Gillion, Aristodemi Giorgini, Icilio Calleja, Giovanni Zenatello, Antonio Paoli, Dimitri Smirnov, Leonid Sobinov, and (in photo), John O'Sullivan. (68 min.)

Direct download: Loud_tenors.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:11pm EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

Elisir D'amore with Freni/Gedda

From 1965, highlights from a delightful "Elisir d'Amore" with Nicolai Gedda,Mirella Freni,Fernando Corena, and Mario Sereni under Thomas Schippers.   (71 min.)

Direct download: Elisir_Gedda.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:50pm EDT

L'Amico Fritz

A beautiful performance of Mascagni's "L'Amico Fritz," one of the operas that they ought to perform more often.This is from Milano, 1953 under Vittorio Gui, and features Cesare Valletti, Rosanna Carteri, Carlo Tagliabue, and Rina Corsi. (65 min.)

Direct download: Fritz_Carteri.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:31pm EDT

Tannhauser from 1955

  A fine live performance of Tannhauser under Rudolf Kempe from 1955. The cast includes Ramon Vinay,Astrid Varnay,George London, Blanche Thebom, and Jerome Hines. (69 min.)

Direct download: Tannh.1955.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:33pm EDT

More of the superb soprano, Marisa Galvany

 You all know of my great praise for dear Marisa Galvany, and you have responded with praise to my podcasts of her material. Here is another selection of her material, with some repeats, but sometimes it is more valuable to hear a compilation.  Included are scenes and arias from Ernani,Traviata, Cavalleria (with Domingo), and Aida (as Aida and Amneris.)  (58 min.)

Galvany studied primarily under Armen Boyajian (also the teacher of Paul Plishka and Samuel Ramey). She made her professional opera debut at the Seattle Opera in 1968 in the title role of Giacomo Puccini's Tosca. The following year, she portrayed the title heroine in Simon Mayr's Medea in Corinto in New York City, a performance which was recorded for Vanguard. She made her first international appearance in 1972 at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City in the title role of Giuseppe Verdi's Aida.

In 1972 Galvany was offered a contract to join the roster of principal singers at New York City Opera by Julius Rudel. She accepted, making her debut with the company later that year as Elisabetta in Gaetano Donizetti's Maria Stuarda opposite Beverly Sills in the title role. She continued to sing regularly with that company through 1983, portraying such roles as Abigaille in Nabucco, Amelia in Un ballo in maschera, , Odabella in Attila, Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana, Violetta in La traviata, and the title roles in Anna Bolena and Luigi Cherubini's Médée. She also sang in several different productions of Tosca where she partnered such tenors as José Carreras and Harry Theyard.

In 1973, Galvany filmed her acclaimed Lady Macbeth, in Macbeth, for the Canadian Broadcasting Company, opposite Louis Quilico. That same year she made her first appearance with the Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company as Aida with Pier Miranda Ferraro as Radamès, Joann Grillo as Amneris, and Gianfranco Rivoli conducting. In 1974 she made her first appearance at the New Orleans Opera opening the 1974-1975 season as Rachel in Fromental Halévy's La Juive with Richard Tucker as Eléazar. She returned to open the company's next two consecutive seasons as Aida and Valentin in Les Huguenots, the latter production with Rita Shane and Susanne Marsee. She later returned to New Orleans to sing Salomé in Jules Massenet's Hérodiade.

Galvany made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1979, in the title role of Norma. In 1985, the singing-actress sang Gertrud in Hänsel und Gretel and Ortrud in Lohengrin on tour with the company, then the Kostelnička in Jenůfa during the Fall Season in the theatre. At the Cincinnati Opera, she appeared in Turandot (with Harry Theyard) and Salome (with Ticho Parly as Herod).

During the mid 1980s, Galvany began to add mezzo-soprano roles to her repertoire. She sang Amneris in Aida at the Cincinnati Opera in 1985. In 1992 she sang the title role in Bizet's Carmen with the New York Grand Opera. (NYGO) She performed frequently with the NYGO up into the early 2000s.

On the international stage Galvany has appeared at the Opern- und Schauspielhaus Frankfurt, the Liceu, the Great Theatre, Warsaw, the National Theatre in Prague, and the National Theatre in Belgrade among others. She has also sang in operas in Brazil and Venezuela.


Direct download: Galvany4-2.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:40pm EDT

The Superb Soprano, Rosanna Carteri

Rosanna Carteri is, for me, an example of a "lost art" in opera. She possesses the emotion, the attention to word and phrase, the beauty of voice, and all the elements that I honestly feel are so rare in these days. I am not intending to denigrate anyone, but you "cognoscenti" by now (with slight prejudice from me)  might understand what I mean. I hope you enjoy this soprano as I do  (71 min.)

Rosanna Carteri (born 14 December 1930) was an Italian soprano primarily active in the 1950s through the mid-1960s.

Rosanna Carteri was born in Verona but was raised in Padua. She studied with Cusinati and started singing in concert at the age of twelve. She won a RAI singing contest in 1948 which led to her operatic debut at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome as Elsa in Lohengrin in 1949, aged only 19. She made her La Scala debut in 1951. Other debuts were at the Salzburg Festival as Desdemona in Otello in 1952 under the direction of Wilhelm Furtwängler, San Francisco as Mimi in La Bohème in 1954, the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Marguerite in Faust in 1955, the Arena di Verona as Mimi in 1958, Covent Garden as Tosca in 1960, Opéra de Paris in 1961 as Violetta in La Traviata.

Carteri made a few recordings for Cetra early in her career, in such operas as Guglielmo Tell, La Bohème and Suor Angelica. She recorded La Traviata for RCA Victor with Cesare Valletti and Leonard Warren under the direction of Pierre Monteux. She participated in several television productions for RAI such as Le nozze di Figaro, La Traviata, Otello, and Falstaff.

Carteri also participated in the creation of some contemporary works such as Ifegenia by Ildebrando Pizzetti in 1950, Proserpine e le straniero by Juan José Castro in 1952, Calzare d'argento again by Pizzetti in 1961 and Il mercante di Venizia by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco also in 1961.


Carteri decided to retire from singing in the mid-1960s while still only in her thirties to devote herself to her family.

Direct download: Carteri.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:27pm EDT

Don Carlo 1980, Part two

 The second part of the 1980 Five Act Don Carlo.   (69 min.)

Direct download: Don_Carlo_Cruz-2.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:08pm EDT

Don Carlo 1980, Part One

Part one of highlights from a wonderful 1980 Don Carlo under James Levine. The cast features Giuseppe Giacomini, Gilda Cruz-Romo, Tatiana Troyanos, Sherrill Milnes, Paul Plishka, and Jerome Hines.   (66 min.)

Direct download: Don_Carlo_Cruz.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:21pm EDT

Il Pirata w.Caballe

A most exciting reading of Bellini's "Il Pirata" (highlights) with Montserrat Caballe, Flaviano Labo, and Piero Cappuccilli under Franco Cap[uana from Florence, 1967 (68 min.)

Direct download: Pirata_Caballe.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:10pm EDT

...and you thought there were no more Toscas.....


The link is long..Instead of copying it,go directly to Youtube  VASSILKA PETROVA, but be careful you do not eat,drink, or have any small animals near the computer....

Category:general -- posted at: 12:26am EDT

Boris Godunov with Hans Hotter

A most exciting performance of Boris Godunov (In German), featuring Hans Hotter, Hans Hopf, Martha Moedl,Lorenz Fehenberger, Kurt Boehme (Varlaam), Kim Borg (Pimen), under Eugen Jochum. Munich 1957  (65 min.)

Direct download: Boris_Hotter.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:49pm EDT

A Superb Lohengrin

Here are highlights from a marvelous Lohengrin from Berlin Radio 1942, under Robert Heger. The cast features two of my all-time favorites, Margarete Klose and Franz Voelker, and stars Maria Muller, Jaro Prohaska, and Ludwig Hofmann(the King.)  (71 min.)

Direct download: Loheng.Voelker.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:01am EDT

Reminder of Mr.Friend of Opera Videos

Remember that there are 1240 wonderful videos on my "Mrfriendofpera" site."  Have fun!!


Go to Mr.Friend of opera site and click Zinka's photo at upper right.Then you see, and upper left the "Favorites".....Then scroll for what you want.

Here is the easiest way to access the site:


Category:general -- posted at: 12:29pm EDT


More Great Music

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