||Jan Peerce Florestano
Rose Bampton Leonora
For full cast see below
Chorus directed by Peter Wilhousky
NBC Symphony Orchestra
Arturo Toscanini, conductor
Broadcast performance, 1944
Additional material recorded 1945
XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, May 2012
Cover artwork based on a photograph of Rose Bampton
Total duration: 1hr 51:08
©2012 Pristine Audio.
Download ID: 1598034-37
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Toscanini's Fidelio: "daring, fierce, mesmerizing"
And now in fabulous sound quality in these new XR transfers
BEETHOVEN Fidelio [notes/score]
Act 1 transmitted 10th December 1944
Act 2 transmitted 17th December 1944
NBC Studio 8H, New York City
Abscheulicher recorded 14 June 1945
Carnegie Hall, New York City
Jan Peerce (tenor) - Florestano
Rose Bampton (soprano) - Leonora
Nicola Moscona (bass) - Don Fernando
Herbert Janssen (bass) - Don Pizarro
Sidor Belarsky (bass) - Rocco
Eleanor Steber (soprano) - Marcellina
Joseph Laderoute (tenor) - Giacchino
NBC Symphony Orchestra
Chorus Director Peter Wilhousky
Arturo Toscanini conductor
ALL downloads include full score of Fidelio
REVIEW - CD REISSUE, 1992
This isn't music-making for the timid, used to the sanitized, faultless performances on your everyday CD. In its raw, unvarnished way, it is daring, fierce, mesmerizing, to be heard when you're feeling strong of spirit and mind. Toscanini views Fidelio and indeed Leonore No. 3 as stark drama, devoid of sentimentality. The winds leap from the speakers, the brass blare ferociously as the old wizard tells a story of the struggle for freedom in a year when, even in the United States, events far away in Europe must have felt very present. In achieving his end, he demands and mostly receives superhuman efforts from his charges: speeds are nervously fast, rhythms alert, as though the events were happening in the conductor's presence. The wind section is prominent in a way we have since heard from Norrington in Beethoven, indubitably influenced by his predecessor. An occasional untidiness is a price worth paying for such an edge-of-your-seat interpretation. Inevitably the epithet 'hard-driven' has been used about the performance: a visionary conductor, inclined to the dictatorial, demands much from his performers and listeners. No compromises can be made. We won't always want to hear the score done like this; once in a way, it is cleansing and salutary.
According to Harvey Sachs's notes, Rose Bampton once said that Toscanini declared "the words came first and that the music was composed afterwards. So we had to understand the deepest significance of the words in order to be expressive." Certainly all the singers enunciate with the utmost clarity, to a fault in the case of the inadequate Rocco, whose German is poor. Bampton herself, although no Lehmann (Toscanini's Salzburg interpreter) in matters of voice or diction, is a determined and dedicated Leonore, whose "Abscheulicher" comes from a later session and is the best part of her performanceelsewhere she is sometimes off form vocally. The young Steber is a lovely Marzelline. Although not one's ideal Florestan, Peerce sings with his customary honesty and technical security. Janssen may not have the incisive bass-baritone for Pizarro, but he projects his part with biting venom. Nobody else makes much of an impression and the chorus is no more than adequate-Robert Shaw hadn't yet arrived on the scene-but the sum is greater than the parts.
Much as one may regret the break for Leonore No. 3, the performance is so electrifying as to silence criticism, but exception has to be taken to the complete absence of dialogue, an essential part of this score. The digital tapes, made from NBC acetates rather than RCA originals, have a little more breadth and reliability than previous transfers to LP. In any case, reservations about sound should deter nobody from sampling this unique experience.
A.B., Gramophone October 1992 [link]
REVIEW - LP ISSUE, 1956
Three names - Beethoven, Fidelio, and Toscanini - will be enough for many people and will ask no more. Though they may find the following of interest.
The new Fidelio goes onto four LP sides, as opposed to the six occupied by the previous complete version (reviewed by A.R. in May 1954). "Complete" in the sense that room is found for the Leonora No. 3, without which we should probably feel cheated, though it really has no business herewhile the spoken dialogue, except in the melodrames of the dungeon scene, is cut—giving an effect to anyone who did not know the work that this was an opera of continuous music and not an opera corrtique, as it properly is. Moods are sometimes hereby made to change too rapidly; but one concedes the omissions, in the interest of time—space—money. The interpolated Leonora No. 3 starts the last side and is "scrolled off", so that it may be left out if one wishes. Otherwise the new set is not scrolled at all, as the Vienna performance was, so that it is difficult to pick out individual "numbers", should you wish to.
"New" is also a relative term meaning: publication over here. Actually this Toscanini version, made up from two broadcasts of 12 years ago, is older in time than Furtwangler's, which was made just after the inaugural gala seasion at the new Vienna opera and with the cast and orchestra which had performed it on the opening night. These discs get more on to each side—the first side for instance concludes with the little march, which in the Vienna set is already the second band of the second side, and so on. Also, Toscanini's speeds are appreciably faster in many instances.
Judging between the two is not at all easy; to this opera, unique, one brings a special set of expectations and very varying responses. Music which is alternately sublime and homely, heroic and simple almost to the point of being humdrum, establishes a whole phalanx of contradictory postulates. Is one to insist on heroism and make allowances for the fact that heroes find it hard to wear clogs? Or insist first on the homely, the simple and the natural sounding and make corresponding allowance for "ordinary" characters dealing somewhat unheroically with the sublime? Comparing these two versions is made further difficult by the actual variability of one issue being taken from broadcast tapes.
In a very general way, I would say that those who already have the grand Furtwängler set, with its somewhat overstrained Leonora (Martha Mödl) but generally very authentically German sounding cast, should hesitate before abandoning it in favour of the Toscanini with a cast not so noticeably better, at least as far as Germanic authenticity goes. Rose Bampton enunciates German clearly and plausibly, but she acts with her voice less well than Mödl : there is less Innigkeit, less of the heroism we remember from Lotte Lehmann's interpretation. On the other hand her voice sounds better placed and less out of condition than Mödl's; the top is free and has a real soprano ring (as in the allegro of "Abscheulicher"). The veteran Janssen, too, sounds better than Edelmann in the villain's formidable aria—though there the quality of the recording is better in the Vienna set. In the matter of cast otherwise I would somewhat prefer the Vienna soloists, though the N.B.C. chorus in the ultimate pans of joy sound as if they had more deeper reserves of exuberant joy.
Furtwängler's handling of the score was masterly and the recording was all very much of a piece: Toscanini's is also masterly, but the recorded quality varies from bright to just faintly distorted. And there are one or two curious smudges in the ensemble, as if the maestro's titanic spontaneity had taken the players off their guard (one such occurs in the menacing orchestral passage which ushers in Florestan's "Welch dunkel . . " in the dungeon scene). Then there are some shifts of level hard to account for: for instance the Prisoners' Chorus seems to have been inserted afterwards like a gusset in a coat (and it will be recalled that it did not make its true theatrical effect in the Vienna set either). After it is over, we jump back to the soloists, like a sudden close-up in a film. Again towards the end of the dungeon scene where in the theatre the mounting excitement comes out at you in a rising tide, the performance here seems, on the contrary, to recede like a camera slowly panning backwards to take in an ever widening (but more distant) scene.
But, and it is an over-riding "but" for a great many people, Toscanini at many points brings an exhilaration to the music which is, quite simply, more purely thrilling than the stately and deeply considered interpretation by Furtwängler. I suggest that you try, one against the other, the trio beginning "Mein Sönnchen..." and play through each version from there to the end of Scene 1. It is not that Toscanini is a fraction brisker; it is that the ideal concept of the music and the performance of it suddenly fuses into one and the same thing. One is no longer conscious of music being made; it is the thing itself, and as the short orchestral postlude lets the pressure down again, one resumes one's ordinary breath rate exactly as one does in a theatre at the fall of a cutain on some scene which has burned you up like oxygen and made you forget everything about yourself and where you are. The scene, which brings the American players and singers to full incandescence, is an example of Toscanini's unique deamon (and unique is the keyword for this opera). For it, and some other like wonders, you may be prepared to jetison the steadier and finally less obtrusive qualities of Furtwängler and the honourable Vienna gala cast.
I should make it clear that the American cast "copes" magnificently - however much one may feel them out of touch with the German character of the dramatic element and the declamatory German style. Both Peerce and Miss Bampton are marvellously on top of "0 namenlose Freude" even at this pace, and for once Toscanini never seems to be overdriving anyone. It must indeed have been a thrilling couple of broadcasts and the issue is one well worth making, possibly of buying, certainly of comparing with the fine six-sided Furtwangler performance from Vienna. That either version makes a quite wonderful impression is of course only to be expected.
P.H.-W., The Gramophone October 1956 [link]
Notes on the recordings:
The broadcasts from which this recording originated were transmitted a week apart, and the normal mid-programme talk was omitted in order to fit each act into a one-hour slot. Also omitted was almost all dialogue, with the opera staged more as a concert piece than a staged work. An error by soprano Rose Bampton in the Abscheulicher led to a re-recording of this at an RCA Toscanini recording session in Carnegie Hall the following June 14th, and it is this version which RCA subsequently used in their releases of the recording - we have stayed with this version for our issue.
The sound quality of the original recording was adequate, but huge strides forward have been made with the application of 32-bit XR remastering, which has particularly favoured the solo voices here. Although the frequency range tops out at around 10kHz, there is plenty of 'air' and brightness to be heard, albeit with a degree of background hiss at times. I was also able, for the first time, to iron out some quite pronounced pitch variations caused by the original recording equipment drifting up and down in speed.
Toscanini's 1936 Fidelio (most of Act 1 only) - Free download:
This is all that survives of a performance given at the Salzburg Festival of 1935 with Toscanini conducting Beethoven's Fidelio in a full staged performance. It features solo performances by Lotte Lehmann, Luisa Helletsgruber, Hermann Gallos, Anton Pavmann and Alfred Jager and was recorded privately from a shortwave transmission in the US on August 16, 1936. Sound quality is variable but generally rather poor, and present technology offers little opportunity to make significant improvements. Yet it is an important historic document and we're pleased to be able to offer it as a free download both in MP3 and FLAC file formats. Note that this is a single, continuous track, which begins and ends with the American radio announcer's voice. The music itself ends with the singing of the Abscheulicher.
Click here to view additional notes
notes from Wikipedia
Rose Bampton (November 28, 1907 – August 21, 2007) was a celebrated American opera singer who had an active international career during the 1930s and 1940s. She began her professional career performing mostly minor roles from the mezzo-soprano repertoire in 1929 but later switched to singing primarily leading soprano roles in 1937 until her retirement from the opera stage in 1963. She notably had a lengthy and fruitful partnership with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, singing there for eighteen consecutive seasons between 1932 and 1950. Her greatest successes were from the dramatic soprano repertoire, particularly in operas by Richard Wagner. Not a stranger to the concert repertoire, Bampton was particularly known for her performances of works by Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg, and her friend Samuel Barber, notably having performed their compositions with the composers accompanying her in concert.
Early life and career: 1907-1932
Born in Lakewood, Ohio just outside of Cleveland, Bampton grew up in Buffalo, New York. She entered Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa where she initially began training as a soprano but was redirected by her voice teacher into the mezzo-soprano repertoire after a serious bout of laryngitis. Shortly after graduating with a bachelors degree, Bampton made her professional opera debut as Siebel in Gounod's Faust at the Chautauqua Opera in 1929. Her performance was positively received and she was invited to perform at the Worcester Music Festival in Worcester, Massachusetts that summer.
In the fall of 1929 Bampton moved to Philadelphia after being offered a contract to join the roster of singers at the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company (PGOC) where she sang mostly comprimario roles over the next three years. Bampton made her PGOC debut as Mercédès in Georges Bizet's Carmen on October 23, 1929 with a cast that included Sophie Braslau as Carmen, Ralph Errolle as Don José, Chief Caupolican as Escamillo, and Henri Elkan conducting. Her other roles with the company included, Mistress Bentson in Lakmé (1929), Feodor in Boris Godunov with Georges Baklanoff in the title role (1929), Mama Lucia in Cavalleria rusticana (1929, 1931), Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor (1930), the shepherd boy in Tosca (1930, 1932), Myrtale in Thaïs (1930, 1932), the first maid in Elektra with Charlotte Boerner as Chrysothemis (1931, 1932), Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde with Paul Althouse as Tristan (1932), Wellgunde in both Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung (1932), and Waltraute in Die Walküre (1932).
While performing at the PGOC, Bampton entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 1930 to pursue graduate studies in singing where her voice teachers included Horatio Connell and Queena Mario. She also had the opportunity to attend masterclasses given by Lotte Lehmann. While at Curtis she developed a friendship with fellow students, composers Samuel Barber and Gian Carlo Menotti. Barber notably recruited her to sing in the New York premiere of his vocal chamber work Dover Beach in 1933. Bampton also sang several times with the Philadelphia Orchestra in the early 1930s under the baton of Leopold Stokowski. With the orchestra she notably sang the Wood-Dove in the United States premiere of Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder (1932), was the soloist for a performance of Manuel de Falla's El amor brujo (1932), and sang the role of Kundry in a concert version of Parsifal (1933) among other performances. Bampton also made several appearances at the Bethlehem Bach Festival during the early 1930s.
A recording of Bampton's performance of the Gurre-Lieder with the Philadelphia Orchestra reached the ears of Giulio Gatti-Casazza, then General Director of the Metropolitan Opera. Impressed with her performance, he contacted Bampton to come and audition for the company. She obliged and ended up being offered a Met contract. According to Opera News, Bampton initially hesitated to accept the invite as "she had doubts as to whether her true vocal range was mezzo or soprano and was concerned about her lack of stage experience." However, she relented and made her first appearance with the company for an out of town engagement in Philadelphia on November 22, 1932 as Laura Adorno in La Gioconda with Rosa Ponselle in the title role, Giacomo Lauri-Volpi as Enzo, and Giuseppe Sturani conducting.
The Metropolitan Opera and international success: 1932-1950
Just six days after her Met debut in Philadelphia, Bampton made her first appearance at the actual Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, reprising the role of Laura. Over the next four years she sang mostly smaller role at the house: the Sandman in Hänsel und Gretel, Waltraute, Wellgunde, and the Voice from Above in Parsifal. The only two roles of more considerable size that she portrayed were, Amneris in Aida and Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde. During these years she began a romantic relationship with noted Canadian conductor and pianist Wilfrid Pelletier (1896–1982) who was a regular conductor at the Met. The couple married in 1937 and, although happily married, never had children.
By the year of her marriage, Bampton was feeling highly frustrated with her lack of good roles at the Met. She therefore decided to establish herself in the soprano repertoire, beginning with a portrayal of Leonora in Il Trovatore at the Met on May 7, 1937 with Arthur Carron as Manrico. Her Met career at the Met flourished after this point with her roles at the house over the next thirteen years including Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Elisabeth in Tannhäuser, Elsa in Lohengrin, Kundry, and the title roles in Gluck's Alceste and Verdi's Aida among others. Her most frequent role at the house was Sieglinde in Die Walküre, which she sang twenty-one times in New York and on tour, often to the Siegmund of Lauritz Melchior. In January 1940 she showed an incredible level of musical versatility when she sang performances of both Aida and Amneris within a week of each other at the Met. Her last and 112th performance at the house was as Elsa on April 17, 1950 with Set Svanholm in the title role and Fritz Stiedry conducting.
In addition to singing at the Met, Bampton sang with many other opera companies throughout the world during the 1930s and 1940s, including performances in Europe and South America. In 1936-1937 she toured Germany and Czechoslovakia in concerts. She made her debut at the Bavarian State Opera as Leonora in 1936, and that same year appeared at the Semperoper in Dresden. In 1937 she made her only appearance at the Royal Opera at Covent Garden as Amneris. That same year she began a decade-long association at the Civic Opera House in Chicago, singing first with the Chicago City Opera Company and later the Chicago Opera Company. Some of her more acclaimed portrayals in Chicago included Maddalena in Andrea Chénier, Sieglinde, and Elsa.
Between 1937 and 1939 Bampton toured England, Holland, and Sweden in concerts. She sang at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires every year between 1942 and 1948, making her debut with the company as the Marschallin in Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier. At the Teatro Colón she tackled several roles that she never performed anywhere else, most notably several heroines in Strauss operas (Daphne, Chrysothemis and Ariadne), Eva in Die Meistersinger, Agathe in Der Freischütz, and Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro. In 1946 she appeared in operas at the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro. In 1949 she sang two roles at the San Francisco Opera, Sieglinde and Donna Anna. In the Fall of 1950 she made her only appearance with the New York City Opera singing the Marschallin.
Bampton also worked actively as a recitalist and concert performer during the 1930s and 1940s. She was a regular guest artist with the New York Philharmonic (NYP) and other orchestras. A fruitful professional association with Arturo Toscanini began in 1936, when Bampton sang in Debussy's La damoiselle élue with the NYP, and included several broadcasts with the conductor and his NBC Symphony Orchestra.
In 1944, she performed the role of Leonore for Toscanini's radio broadcast of Beethoven's opera Fidelio. Others in the cast included Jan Peerce and Eleanor Steber. The performance, originally broadcast in two parts, each on a separate week, was released years later on LP and still later on CD. It was Toscanini's first radio broadcast of a virtually complete opera - all of the music was included, but all of the dialogue (except for the spoken melodrama in the prison scene) was omitted.
Later life and career: 1950-2007
Bampton and her husband both decided to leave the Met when Rudolf Bing was appointed the company's new general manager in 1950. Bampton stated in a 1989 interview that, "Both of us got the feeling that we wouldn't be happy with the new regime." She continued to appear in operas into the early 1960s, although her opera schedule after 1950 was sparse in comparison to the schedule she kept in the 1930s and 1940s. Bampton's last opera performance was as Mme. de Croissy in Dialogues of the Carmelites at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, New York in 1963. She continued to perform sporadically in recitals and concerts into the early 1970s, arenas in which she had been well established since the beginning of her career. Her husband died in 1982 and she never remarried.
After her opera career ended, Bampton embarked on a second career as a voice teacher, serving for lengthy periods on the voice faculties of Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard School (1974–1991). She also had shorter stints on the faculties at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Drake University and Adelphi University. She also frequently served as a vocal competition judge. At the time of her death, Bampton was a member of the boards of the Metropolitan Opera and the William Matheus Sullivan Foundation. She was also an honorary chairman of the Bagby Foundation for the Musical Arts.
Notes from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_Bampton
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