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Beniamino Gigli HMV 1938-40

RO 82023

Beniamino Gigli
Complete HMV singles 1938-40

Beniamino Gigli, tenor

This is the fourth volume in the series of tenor Beniamino Gigli\'s HMV single recordings and it carries on the good work of recording the glory of Gigli\'s magnificent "third period\' when in his mid-40s the tone was as golden as ever and had, if anything, gained in strength while remaining as flexible as ever.
Although war clouds were approaching, Gigli\'s career continued in the autumn of 1938 as though everything were normal. In September he recorded four titles in Milan including his charmingly un-idiomatic versions of two of the most popular Lieder ever penned. Then he was off to the United States for his last opera performances on that continent.

In his autobiography "The World Is My Audience" Gigli relates successes that autumn at San Francisco Opera and in recitals all over the United States
preceding his triumphant return to the Metropolitan in New York at the beginning of 1939. There full of nostalgia because he felt the house was his spiritual home he won renewed plaudits for his appearances in four operas. Back in Europe he recalled he had six or seven "normal" months, i.e. performing in European houses, before the outbreak of war confined him to Italy and Germany.

His next recordings took place while he was appearing at Covent Garden in the spring-summer season of 1939. While there he sang Alfredo to Maria Caniglia\'s Violetta and the chance was taken to record the pair in the characters\' Acts 1 and 3 duets. Also in those sessions Gigli recorded more of his most winning performances of Italian song. The classical Amarilli by Caccini, once so beloved of recitalists, is sung plangently in the tenor\'s most persuasive mezza voce in a style that would not be approved of today in music of the period. So much the worse for today\'s views: it is a most seductive piece of singing. Even more attractive is the tenor\'s warmly projected intimate account of Tosti\'s Aprile, which was chosen to represent Gigli at this stage of his career in volume 3 of EMI\'s "Record of Singing".

In October 1939, hostilities having broken out, Gigli had returned to Italy and in that month he celebrated his silver jubilee as a singer at Rovigo, the venue of his debut. He sang Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor. Thoughts he had entertained of retirement were put aside. As he comments in his autobiography: "I felt in full possession of my powers, far more so than on that October night in 1914. Moreover I had received no hint that my audiences thought otherwise". With no possibility of travel abroad he contented himself with performances in opera houses all over Italy, singing with most of his famous Italian contemporaries.

His recording sessions now all took place in Milan. In July he recorded more songs, including a ravishing account of Donaudy\'s lyrical O del mio amato ben. In April 1939 he had taken part in the first performances at La Scala of Maristella, a little-known opera by the contemporary composer Giuseppe Pietri. Gigli writes: "I found the tenor role extremely congenial to my voice, full of beautiful melodic phrases and with one lovely aria (Io conosco un giardino) that I promptly added it to my concert repertory." He recorded the piece to mesmeric effect during his next sessions in January 1940. It is a perfect fit for Gigli\'s voice. No wonder he seized the chance to immortalise his rendering of it. To these January sessions also belong a typically outgoing ardent account of Amor ti vieta from Giordano\'s Fedora, which only goes to confirm the wisdom of the tenor\'s decision not to retire. His singing is as easy and rich-hued as it ever had been. On the same day, January 23, as he recorded this and the aria from Maristella he also joined Cloe Elmo in the last-act Azucena-Manrico duet from Il trovatore - a pretty satisfying day\'s work.

In the final sessions included here at the end of November 1940 Gigli performs the much more taxing Di quella pira. The performance may not be as trumpet-like and stentorian as some but - careful not to force his fundamentally lyrical tone - Gigli sings with plenty of fire. Puccini\'s Manon Lescaut had been in the tenor\'s repertory for far longer - he first undertook it at the Metropolitan in 1922 and it remained a staple of his vocal diet. He sings Des Grieux\'s impassioned Act 3 outburst from the dockside where Manon is being deported with all his old fire. Delightful performances of songs by the popular Bixio so much enjoyed by Gigli and his admirers complete the 1940 discography.

Romophone\'s superb reputation for impeccable sound restoration is further strengthened by Mark Obert-Thorn\'s new digital transfers, whilst the booklet is presented with full discographic information, lavish illustrations and informative programme notes by the renowned Alan Blyth.


Track listing

1 Ständchen (Schubert) Ger. 8 ix 38
0BA 2746-2 (HMV DA 1657) 3:34
2 Desiderio (Bixio) It. 8 ix 38
0BA 2747-1 (HMV DA 1654) 2:39
3 Dir nur gehört mein Herz (Desiderio) (Bixio) Ger. 8 ix 38
0BA 2748-2
(HMV DA 1658) 2:34
4 Wiegenlied (Brahms) Ger. 8 ix 38
0BA 2749-3 (HMV DA 1657) 1:51
5 Amarilli (Caccini) It. 12 v 39
2EA 7749-2 (HMV DB 6313) 3:29
6 DON GIOVANNI: Dalla sua pace (Mozart) It. 12 v 39
2EA 7750-2
(HMV DB 3809) 4:34
7 Notte d\'amore (de Crescenzo) It. 12 v 39
2EA 7901-2 (HMV DB 3815) 4:24
8 Aprile (Tosti) It. 12 v 39
2EA 7902-2 (HMV DB 3815) 4:02
9 LA TRAVIATA: Ah sì! dì un anno . . . Un di felice (Verdi) It. 5 vi 39
2EA 7908-2 (HMV DB 3811) 3:50
10 LA TRAVIATA: Oh mia Violetta! . . . Parigi
o cara (Verdi) It. 5 vi 39
2EA 7907-2 (HMV DB 3811) 4:48
11 DON GIOVANNI: Il mio tesoro (Mozart) It. 5 vi 39
2EA 7909-2 (HMV DB 3809) 4:12
12 La spagnola (di Chiara) It. 5 vi 39
0EA 7910-2 (HMV DA 1711) 2:47
13 La paloma (Yradier) It. 15 vii 39
0BA 3334-2 (HMV DA 1711) 3:29
14 O del mio amato ben (Donaudy) It. 15 vii 39
0BA 3335-2 (HMV DB 6313) 3:54
15 Maria
tu sei per me la vita (de Curtis) It. 22 i 40
0BA 3647-2 (HMV DA 1731) 2:38
16 Lolita (Buzzi-Peccia) It. 22 i 40
0BA 3648-2 (HMV DA 1722) 3:07
17 MARISTELLA: Io conosco un giardino (Pietri) It. 23 i 40
0BA 3649-2 (HMV DA 1731) 2:53
18 IL TROVATORE: Se m\'ami ancor . . . Ai nostri monti (Verdi) It. with Cloe Elmo
mezzo-soprano 23 i 40
2BA 3650-2 (VDP DB 5385) 4:29
19 FEDORA: Amor ti vieta (Giordano) It. 23 i 40
0BA 3651-2 (HMV DA 1722) 2:05
20 Mamma (Bixio) It. 29 xi 40
0BA 4186-2 (VDP DA 5397) 3:34
21 Se vuoi goder la vita (Bixio) It. 29 xi 40
0BA 4187-2 (VDP DA 5397) 2:59
22 MANON LESCAUT: Che avvien? . . . No! Pazzo son (Puccini) It. with Giuseppe Noto
baritone 30 xi 40
0BA 4189-1 (VDP DA 5398) 3:15
23 IL TROVATORE: Di quella pira (Verdi) It. 30 xi 40
0BA 4190-2 (VDP DA 5398) 2:06

Dino Olivieri/Orchestra (tracks 1-4, 15-16 and 20-21)
Lawrance Collingwood/Orchestra (tracks 5-12)
Luigi Ricci/Chamber Orchestra (tracks 13-14)
Umberto Berrettoni/Orchestra (tracks 17-19 and 22-23)

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