This release is the first of two which will present both of the complete opera recordings of baritone Riccardo Stracciari. Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia was recorded in 1929, and Verdi’s Rigoletto, with the same principal cast members and conductor, followed the next year. Despite their importance, these sets have never received satisfactory new transfers during the CD era, with the last “official” transfer of Il barbiere from EMI having been made as long ago as 1955 (reissued from those tapes for a 1979 LP edition). Mark Obert-Thorn has now made these fabulous new transfers for Pristine to redress the balance.
Riccardo Stracciari (1875 - 1955) was born near Bologna and made his professional debut there in 1899. He first sang at La Scala in 1904, and his international career began the following year with appearances at Covent Garden in 1905 and the Metropolitan Opera in 1906. He sang widely throughout Europe and the Americas before retiring in 1944. He was best known for his portrayal of Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, which he reportedly sang 1000 times, and for Rigoletto. No less an authority than Rosa Ponselle admired his singing, and he is still considered one of the finest Italian baritones of his era.
Little is known about conductor Lorenzo Molajoli (1868 – 1939). His early career was spent conducting in the Americas, South Africa and provincial Italian theatres. In 1926, he became Italian Columbia’s house conductor, under which guise he recorded twenty complete or abridged operas between 1928 and 1932. His tight control of the ensemble and fast tempi often produced dramatic and exciting performances.