Saturday, 25 February 2012

Otello La Scala 1939

Merli as Otello
Recorded lived at Castello Sforzesco in Milan and transmitted via shortwave to the USA we have nearly all of act 1 of Otello. This post allows us to hear the famed Italian tenor Francesco Merli (1887-1976) in one of his signature roles, Otello. Merli made studio recordings but live recordings of him on stage are rare. World War II, which would break out just weeks after this broadcast, would effectively end Merli's career. The broadcast was aired on WJZ New York (4-4.35pm).

Verdi – Otello – Act 1
Castello Sforzesco, Milan August 15, 1939

c. Arturo Lucon

Otello - Francesco Merli
Desdemona - Delia Sanzio
Iago - Enrico de Francheschi
Cassio - Alfredo Poggianti
Rodrigo - Erminio Benatti
Lodovico - Giuseppe Meraina
Montano - Luigi Sardi
Emilia - Rina Gallo Toscani

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Meistersinger Covent Garden 1951

Hotter as Sachs
 This is a rare opportunity to hear Thomas Beecham conducting Meistersinger. A large part of some 1936 performances were recorded by HMV but very little now survives. Here we have a complete act 1 and a complete act 2. The entire opera was broadcast by the BBC but a recording of act 3 has never surfaced. The cast is a mixture of home-grown talent and international stars. There are only two other complete recordings of the great bass-baritone Hans Hotter singing Sachs, in Munich in 1949 and Bayreuth in 1956. Austrian Ludwig Weber, normally associated with the ring villans Hunding and Hagen, sings Pogner. Liquid-voiced Elizabeth Grümmer would record the role of Eva in the studio under Kempe and then sang the role at Bayreuth between 1957 and 1961, but this is her earliest recording of the role. Singing Walther is Peter Anders and this is a rare example of him singing one of the Wagnerian roles that he was moving into at this stage of his career. He died in an accident aged just 46 in 1954.
Among the local singers performing are Constance Shacklock, and a young Geraint Evans.

Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Acts I, II
Royal Opera House Chorus and Orchestra, London
Sir Thomas Beecham, Conductor
July 2, 1951

Hans Sachs - Hans Hotter
Veit Pogner - Ludwig Weber
Sixtus Beckmesser - Benno Kusche
Fritz Kothner - Rhoderick Davies
Walther von Stolzing - Peter Anders
David - Murray Dickie
Eva - Elisabeth Grümmer
Magdalena - Constance Shacklock
Nachtwächter - Geraint Evans
Kunz Vogelgesang - Edgar Evans
Konrad Nachtigall - Ernest Davies
Ulrich Eisslinger - Dennis Stephenson
Balthasar Zorn - Emlyn Jones
Augustin Moser - David Tree
Hermann Ortel - Marian Nowakowski
Hans Schwarz - Charles Morris
Hans Foltz - Ronald Lewis