Irene Minghini-Cattaneo (1892-1944)
''Title of Work''>On the whole, singers from Italy did not get a good press when they appeared at Covent Garden in the interwar years. Cattaneo was one of the exceptions: she sang Adalgisa to Rosa Ponselle's Norma and Laura to her Gioconda, winning the approval of critics and public alike. These records were made in those same years, which were also very probably her best. Later, in the 1930s, she was tempted into soprano roles and that normally means that the end is in sight. Her end, the really final one, came in 1944 and in tragic circumstances for she was killed in an air-raid. Yet more of her survives on records than with many artists of the period: two complete studio-recorded operas, for instance, which is more than we have of her great partner in those summer seasons at Covent Garden.
Excerpts from the Trovatore and Aida sets included here show her in magnificent voice, splendidly free and resonant at the top and firm in the chest register too. As Azucena she has the spirit and authority that can make the part so dominant in the opera, and her Amneris is a passionate, temperamental creature well matched with the Radames of Aureliano Pertile. In the Gioconda excerpts she sings as both Laura and La Cieca, the duet with Gioconda being fully competitive in the exciting Italian way (not for the squeamish) and there is some welcome delicacy in the Laura/Enzo duet with the mellifluous Lionello Cecil (the Australian, Cecil Sherwood). In Ulrica's solo from Un ballo in maschera her attack on ''E lui!'' exults, and the cabaletta of ''O mio Fernando'' shines out, both of them powerfully—the Fiorenza Cossotto of her day. Transfers are fine, the best of them (such as the Carmen and Dalila solos) being in material not included on LV66, the LP counterpart of this Compact Disc.'