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Brotherly love

Again dipping into the rich archive of live recordings remastered and made available by the late Mike Richter, we find this selection from his early disc “Odd Opera 2.”  It’s Bellini’s I puritani, as performed on April 18, 1963 at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia.

From Mike’s liner notes for this release:

Although private recordings have been issued quite frequently, all appear to come from late generations of a tape which I received from the recordist in better sound than I have found on the market. So I take this opportunity to include it here. Note that the sound quality is inconsistent, but consistently less than would be achieved with modern hardware.

Conductor: Richard Bonynge
Company: American Opera Society
Elvira: Joan Sutherland
Arturo: Nicolai Gedda
Riccardo: Ernest Blanc
Giorgio: Justino Diaz
Enrichetta: Betty Allen
Gualtiero: Raymond Michalski

45 comments

  • figaroindy says:

    I believe Eileen Farrell’s debut (in opera) may have been with AOS, also (Medea?). And I think Fischer-Dieskau’s first NY performances were with AOS.

    • Clita del Toro says:

      I did see Farrell’s Medea at Carnegie Hall. I think she sang it a two different times. Don’t remember which years. I saw the second. Was not impressed with the opera (or her) until I heard Callas’ sing the role. Go figure.
      DFD sang Doktor Faustus (or whatever that opera is called). A memorable night!

  • rysanekfreak says:

    I loved hearing this spectacular performance, although it was distracting that the person taping it was apparently seated next to Violetta Valery.

  • ilpenedelmiocor says:

    It kind of depresses me to realize that you could hear performances like this with casts like this in cities like Philadelphia just 50 years ago.

    • Clita del Toro says:

      What depresses me more is much of what we hear today. ;)

    • wotan46 says:

      You can explore the amazing depth and breadth of opera performance in Philly of years past in this incredible online database created by Frank Hamilton. Not tapes, but a listing of performances, complete with dates, venues, casting, etc. The variety of performances featuring everytyhing from obscure, local artists to the greatest international superstars is really mind-boggling. Have not been able to track down Mr. Hamilton. Wish I could find him and thank him for this treasure. http://www.frankhamilton.org/ph/ph2.pdf

  • Clita del Toro says:

    OT. Tomas Tomasson is the worst Luna I have ever heard. A real party tape, if you can stand it. He just sang Il Balen, or something like it.

  • MontyNostry says:

    OT -- a curiosity: Bumbry and Studer live in 1987 (Vienna) in Gluck’s Telemaco.

  • Hans Lick says:

    Oxenburg started American Opera Society on a whim and a prayer, and masterminded many a glorious evening. “Concert opera” as we know it was not yet a going concern; he made it classy and sponsored lots of folks who had not yet reached the Met: Price and Flagello in “Coronation of Poppea,” Price and Siepi in “Giulio Cesare,” Schwarzkopf in a repeat of “Cesare,” Callas in “Roberto Devereux,” the jaw-dropping New York debuts of Sutherland, Horne and Caballe…. Sutherland sang “Semiramide” for him, and also Haydn’s “Orfeo” (with Gedda), the first night I ever heard them. The same season included besides Suliotis’ disastrous “Nabucco,” Caballe and Verrett in “Maria Stuarda” and Tebaldi in “La Wally.” Was it the next year that New York last heard “Tiefland”? and Sills in “Les Huguenots”? and Caballe in “La Straniera”?

    Anyway, I have never seen a tidy list of the complete performance history of this amazing company.

    There were, in the early 70s, too many Caballe cancellations (entailing much forfeit on management’s part) and, rumor has it, a great deal of syphoning off of “corporation” money to Mr. Oxenburg’s antique furniture collection. A sad end. Happily, Eve Queler was there to take up the slack, though things were never the same, seldom quite as thrilling as those early astonishments. But she gave us some fabulous nights.

    • Ethan says:

      Callas never sang Roberto Devereux. Could you be thinking of Il Pirata? A different composer, but the same style. Callas did sing Imogene for the American Opera Society, in 1959. It was a bootleg for years, and is now on EMI.