Claudia Muzio sings Opera Arias & Songs
If there were just two sopranos of the Italian school to take to my desert island, one would, of course be Callas, the other Muzio. They shared several qualities essential to great singing—instinctive sincerity as interpreters, psychological insight into the characters they portrayed intense pathos (where required) in their vocal acting achieved through very individual enunciation of the text in hand. All these characteristics, in the case of Muzio, can be arrestingly felt in this collection of the records made right at the end of her career. Every item in this generous recital is filled with the special Muzio magic that justifies the words on the plaque in the foyer in the opera house at Rio de Janeiro, where Muzio was so popular: ''A Claudio Muzio, l'unica''.
What her voice had lost by 1935 (when all but one of these items was recorded) in the pristine freshness heard on her acoustic discs it had gained in emotional overtones and the experience of life's travails. The tone may falter here and there breath may occasionally be short, but who among her successors, except Callas, could so unerringly create Amina's elegiac melancholy, Violetta's and Santuzza's different kinds of desperation, the Forza Leonora's fatalism, Mimi's charm, Maddalena's tensions, Adriana's bittersweet musings Tosca's impassioned pleading, with such immediacy. Every phrase in all these women's solos has individuality, some special moment of illumination that has one marvelling anew at such intelligent yet spontaneous interpretation.
There was a lighter side to Muzio's personality just as there was to Callas's. It comes to the fore delightfully in Les Silles de Cadiz, so delicately voiced, the airy Bonjour, Suzon and, above all, in the teasing of Colombetta, a collector's item in its 78rpm format. These set off to perfection the languishing sorrow of O del mio amato ben, here receiving its definitive performance.
To add to one's pleasure Keith Hardwick has come up with one of his most faithful re-creations to date. I have never heard Muzio's Columbias sound so fresh, so clean in sound. I do urge any new collector yet to come under Musio's spell to acquire this indispensable CD: it should afford him or her many hours of pleasure.'