Monday, 9 April 2012

Otello Covent Garden 1937

Martinelli as Otello
There are plenty of other recordings of Martinelli as Otello, four complete ones from the Met alone often in very good sound. Yet this short extract from Otello (about 4mins from act 2) is interesting because it is the earliest surviving aircheck of a Covent Garden BBC broadcast. Unlike in the US where opera lovers recorded many opera broadcasts dating back as early as 1930 (see the Lotte Lehmann Tannhauser extract previously posted), and were able to capture complete broadcasts from 1934, British opera lovers simply lacked the right equipment to do the same. Not only were disc cutters very expensive, you needed two of them to be able to capture a broadcast without breaks every 4 or 5 minutes. Thus although the BBC broadcast regularly from Covent Garden,  usually just one act rather than a complete opera, very few recordings have turned up over the years. This opera was one of the first to be broadcast complete, Martinelli was of course world famous in the role of Otello. Some opera lover managed to capture this part of act 2, so we can enjoy it seventy-five years later.

Otello Covent Garden April 19, 1937
Otello - Giovanni Martinelli
Iago - Cesare Formichi
c. Thomas Beecham

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