Tosca - Carmen Melis [s]
Cavaradossi - Piero Pauli [t]
Scarpia - Apollo Granforte [b]
Angelotti - Giovanni Azzimonti [b]
Il Sagrestano - Antonio Gelli [bs]
Spoletta - Nello Palai [t]
Sciarrone - Giovanni Azzimonti [b]
Shepherd Boy - Uncredited
Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala, Milan
Conducted by Carlo Sabajno
Chorus Master, Vittore Veneziani
(Two sides were conducted by Gino Nastrucci)
Recorded Milan, 1929-1930, by Italian HMV on 28 sides, issued HMV Plum Label C1902-1915 Matrices: CM 1244-2, 21 November 1929; CM 1222-2, 12 November 1929 CM 1229-2, 15 November 1929 CM 1213-2, 7 november 1929 CM 1216-3, 14 January 1930 CM 1232-2, 18 November 1929 CM 1230-2, 15 November 1929 CM 1234-2, 19 November 1929 CM 1203-2, 5 November 1929 CM 1204-4, 22 November 1929 CM 1223-2, 12 November 1929 CM 1267-2, 27 November 1929 CM 1268-3, 27 November 1929 CM 1249-1, 22 November 1929 CM 1240-1, 20 November 1929 CM 1241-2, 20 November 1929 CM 1242-2, 20 November 1929 CM 1212-5, 28 February 1929 (Nastrucci cond.) CM 1217-1, 9 November 1929 CM 1243-1, 21 November 1929 CM 1235-3, 19 November 1929 CM 1261-3, 26 November 1929 CM 1226-4, 24 March 1930 CM 1224-3, 14 November 1929 CM 1227-1, 14 November 1929 CM 1219-1, 11 November 1929 CM 1221-4, 14 January 1930 CM 1250-2, 22 November 1929
CD, MP3 and FLAC information:
CDs: Double set - Act 1 = CD1, Acts 2 & 3 = CD2.
FLACs: Continuous tracks with a short pause between acts.
MP3: Two MP3s in a Zip filed which correspond to the two CDs as outlined above, complete with individual cue sheets
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"...To go serially, through the fourteen double-sided records (Nos. C1902-1915) would involve the repetition of an oft-told tale. Suffice it to say that the calibre of the workmanship and artistry revealed in them is of the highest order. Consequently, there is no need for comparisons. I cannot perceive any shortcomings either in the interpretation of the score or the quality of the recording. Each scene stands out clearly, strongly, effectively; and let me add that the necessary interruptions or divisions have been extremely well devised. It should, therefore, be easy to provide with this material a thoroughly realistic and comprehensible musical representation of Puccini's opera..."
This recording of Puccini’s Tosca features the highly regarded dramatic soprano, Carmen Melis (1885-1957) in her only electric recording, and her only complete opera on disc. She studied with Jean de Reszke and made her operatic debut in 1905 as Thais. Over her 30 year career, Tosca was one of her most important roles, and one for which she was duly praised. Heard here also is the incomparable Apollo Granforte (1886-1975) as Scarpia, whose portrayal of the role is still considered perhaps the best on record. The conducting of Carlo Sabajno, 1874-1938, is up to his usual high standard of excellence. Tenor, Piero Pauli, is sadly this recording’s only disappointment. His unattractive treatment of Cavaradossi’s music is all too evident, and his unappealing vocal timbre is often accentuated by his proximity to the microphone. The sonic quality of the recording is amazingly vivid for its time, especially for the orchestra. The voices too are well-recorded except during the most intense passages where the recording equipment was not capable of handling the high levels. During these moments, there occurs severe distortion which is only slightly remediable.
The present transfer was made using three excellent condition sets, pressed during the mid-1930s on quiet Z-shellac by U.S. RCA Victor. For each side, I chose the best of the three, but often patched short problematic passages from the other two copies.
Since this recording was made over a number of sessions spanning four months, the sound obtained on some days was definitely superior to sound from other sessions. In order to achieve the best possible sound, each side was tested using a variety of stylus sizes and shapes. I used CEDAR declicking and decrackling, but did not use any digital denoising.
Around 1935, she ended her singing career and dedicated herself to teaching. She was a great influence on her pupil, Renata Tebaldi, who once said of Melis, "Everything I needed to learn for the stage, I learnt from her." She was also the teacher of soprano Rita Orlandi-Malaspina.
Apollo Granforte (July 20, 1886, Legnano - June 11, 1975, Milan) was an Italian opera singer and one of the leading baritones active during the inter-war period of the 20th century.
Life and career
Granforte emigrated as a young man to Argentina, where he studied voice with Guido Capocci in Buenos Aires. He made his stage debut in Rosario, as Germont, in 1913.
After returning to Italy, he sang at the Rome Opera before making his debut at La Scala in Milan, as Amfortas, in 1921. In 1924, he went to Australia on a successful tour with Nellie Melba. During Granforte's subsequent tour of Australia in J. C. Williamson's 1932 Grand Opera season, Frank Thring senior's Melbourne-based Efftee Productions filmed him with the Williamson-Imperial Grand Opera Company in selections from Rossini's The Barber of Seville. This relatively brief footage was released on VHS in 1989 by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Granforte possessed a big, vibrant voice and he quickly established himself in the great baritone roles of Verdi and the verismo composers. He sang some Wagner, too, and also took part in the creation of Nerone by Mascagni in 1935.
After retiring from the stage, he taught at the Music Conservatory of Ankara, and later in Prague and Milan, where amongst his pupil was bass Raffaele Arié. He can be heard on recordings of Il trovatore, Otello, Pagliacci and Tosca.
Carlo Sabajno (1874, Rosasco, Italy - 1938, Milan) was an Italian conductor. From 1904 to 1932 he was the Gramophone Company's chief conductor and artistic director in Italy. During his career, he conducted some of the earliest full-length opera recordings, most of them with the orchestra of La Scala, Milan.