Galli-Curci in Opera and Song

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Galli-Curci in Opera and Song

  • Semiramide, ~, Bel raggio lusinghier
  • (La) Sonnambula, ~, Son geloso del zefiro errante
  • (La) Sonnambula, ~, Ah! non credea mirarti
  • (La) Sonnambula, ~, Ah! non giunge
  • Lucia di Lammermoor, '(The) Bride of Lammermoor', ~, Verranno a te
  • Lucia di Lammermoor, '(The) Bride of Lammermoor', ~, Ardon gl'incensi
  • Lucia di Lammermoor, '(The) Bride of Lammermoor', ~, Spargi d'amaro pianto (Mad Scene)
  • (Il) trovatore, ~, Timor di me?
  • (Il) trovatore, ~, D'amor sull'ali rosee
  • (La) traviata, ~, Un dì, felice
  • (La) traviata, ~, Parigi, o cara
  • (The) Golden Cockerel, '(Le) Coq d'Or', Hymn to the Sun
  • Solitudini amene, apriche collinette
  • Don Pasquale, Tornami a dir (Notturno)
  • Rigoletto, Ah! veglia, o donna
  • Rigoletto, ~, Piangi, fanciulla
  • Rigoletto, ~, È il sol dell'anima
  • Lo, here the gentle lark
  • Echo Song
  • (La) Paloma
  • Semiramide, ~, Bel raggio lusinghier
  • (La) Sonnambula, ~, Son geloso del zefiro errante
  • (La) Sonnambula, ~, Ah! non credea mirarti
  • (La) Sonnambula, ~, Ah! non giunge
  • Lucia di Lammermoor, '(The) Bride of Lammermoor', ~, Verranno a te
  • Lucia di Lammermoor, '(The) Bride of Lammermoor', ~, Ardon gl'incensi
  • Lucia di Lammermoor, '(The) Bride of Lammermoor', ~, Spargi d'amaro pianto (Mad Scene)
  • (Il) trovatore, ~, Timor di me?
  • (Il) trovatore, ~, D'amor sull'ali rosee
  • (La) traviata, ~, Un dì, felice
  • (La) traviata, ~, Parigi, o cara
  • (The) Golden Cockerel, '(Le) Coq d'Or', Hymn to the Sun
  • Solitudini amene, apriche collinette
  • Don Pasquale, Tornami a dir (Notturno)
  • Rigoletto, Ah! veglia, o donna
  • Rigoletto, ~, Piangi, fanciulla
  • Rigoletto, ~, È il sol dell'anima
  • Lo, here the gentle lark
  • Echo Song
  • (La) Paloma

These two issues complement each other very happily, the Romophone going up to 1920, the Conifer concentrating on later recordings, with an overlap of only three (''Ah! non credea'', ''Ardon gl'incensi'' and Lo, here the gentle lark). Romophone are, however, in the process of presenting a complete edition (this being Vol. 1), and whosoever wishes for Galli-Curci whole and entire will await Vol. 2. Those who already have some of her on Nimbus or Pearl may be in a quandary.
Let me briefly rehearse the charms of this singer, who featured as ''Gramophone Celebrities—1'' in the second issue of this magazine in 1923 and of whom, in the first number, the Editor wrote: ''One of the most solid grounds I have for facing the coming of old age with equanimity is the reasonable hope that I shall spend it listening to as many records of la diva Galli-Curci's voice as there are of Caruso's''. The purity of her voice was certainly a delight; it was at that time firm and even throughout its wide compass; and her fluency in scalework, precision in staccato, and ability to swell and diminish on a long-held high note were exceptional. She was an artist who could phrase and nuance exquisitely and who, within the boundaries of a more or less pretty joy and sadness, could be quite poignantly expressive.
In the years of her greatest fame and success, roughly the decade from 1916 to 1926, her operatic repertoire was the standard one for the 'coloratura' soprano, and it is well represented by her records. What they also have, making them treasurable beyond anything that such a summary might suggest, is a personal flavour, a caress, a way of making words sound like water purling gently on a summer's afternoon, a dreaminess that can awaken to fun and affection. She could also flatten rather sadly in pitch, and though her voice in its prime brought scenes of extraordinary enthusiasm in the opera house, her later concert performances gave some disappointment, even to the Editor of Gramophone.
The flattening is usually associated with her later records, yet the very first of all contains an example quite early on. A song called La partida (Alvarez) opens the collection on Romophone, and shows the special quality of her voice immediately; yet also, on the first high G, we hear her very slightly flat. This was a record replaced the following year with another performance (included here), retaining the same catalogue number, and the intonation is fine. In those years she made some of the loveliest soprano recordings of all: Lakme's Bell song, Juliette's waltz, Amina's ''Ah! non credea'' and the incomparable ''Una voce poco fa'' are examples. Duets from Rigoletto and La traviata with Giuseppe de Luca have the voices beautifully matched, as they were when she sang with Tito Schipa (several examples on the Conifer disc). The Rigoletto Quartet and Lucia Sextet with Caruso are by no means ideal in style or balance but exciting nevertheless. Some of the songs, including one (When Chloris sleeps) by her husband and accompanist, Homer Samuels, are charming.
Personally, for completeness and also for the fine quality of transfers by Ward Marston, I would want to have the Romophone. The Conifer selection is certainly a good one, including rarities such as the Scarlatti cantata (Solitudini amene, apriche collinetti), ''Bel raggio'' and ''Ah, non giunge'' (revealingly juxtaposed with ''Ah! non credea''). On the whole, the early records have been transferred on this CD more enjoyably than the electricals. If buying a single disc, it would be sensible to consult the catalogue and see what Pearl and Nimbus also have to offer.'

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