The Mid-1930 Glydenbourne Marriage of Figaro
First ever recording of any Mozart Opera, remastered for superb sound
This recording of Mozart's opera 'Le Nozze di Figaro' (The Marriage
of Figaro) was a milestone in recording history, and marked the creation
of HMV's "Mozart Opera Society", which ultimately resulted in twelve
volumes of 78rpm recordings. The initial release in 1934 of Volume One
was experimental. Nobody had issued an entire Mozart opera before and
there was some doubt as to the demand, especially given the premium
price at a time of economic depression - ultimately the price of the
full set would be approximately double the average weekly wage for men
in England at the time - and four times that of women. We have resisted
the temptation to price this version in a similar fashion...
Volume One consisted of a side from Act 1, most of Act 2, a side from Act 3 and the second half of Act 4. A year later came the opportunity to complete the recording and release Volumes Two and Three. The record company managed to assemble almost the same cast, with the exception of Bartolo, who had one solo aria (La Vendetta, Act One) to record, hence the substitution of Italo Tajo for this one side. Norman Allin was not available for the role in 1935 - that year's soloist had been considered unsuitable for the recording and Tajo was drafted in from the chorus - we suspect his voice was closer to that of Allin's.
An indication of how tightly the project had to work is the exclusion of Neddle Nash's planned aria 'In quegli anni' - time ran out before they could record it. Given that none of the sides went past a second take they must have worked at quite a pace. Hence the inclusion in Volume Two of a single sided disc containing the Overture only.
The recording also omits almost all the recitative material, which became standard recording practice at the time. At around the same time HMV embarked on a further three volumes of Mozart opera to make up Cosi Fan Tutti, which would become volumes four to six of the Mozart Opera Society series. These were also recorded at Glyndebourne and also overlapped the two seasons.
Roy Henderson - Il Conte Almaviva (Baritone)
Aulikki Rautawaara - La Contessa Almaviva (Soprano)
Audrey Mildmay - Susanna (Soprano)
Willi Domgraf-Fassbänder - Figaro (Baritone)
Luise Helletsgruber - Cherubino (Soprano)
Constance Willis - Marcellina (Contralto)
Heddle Nash - Basilio (Tenor)
Norman Allin*/Italo Tajo* - Bartolo (Bass)
Winifred Radford - Barbarina (Soprano)
Fergus Dunlop - Antonio (Bass)
Morgan Jones - Don Curzio (Tenor)
The Orchestra & Chorus of the Glyndebourne Mozart Opera
Conducted by Fritz Busch - Produced by Karl Ebert
Recorded by HMV at Glydnebourne Theatre, Sussex, England: 6/6/34, 24/6/35, 28/6/35
*Bartolo is sung by Norman Allin, except for La vendetta, oh, la vendetta, by Italo Tajo.
Matrix numbers: Overture: 2ER86-I. Act I: 2ER45-II, 2ER46-II, 2ER41-I, 2ER96-II, 2ER99-I, 2ER47-II, 2BR318-I, 2ER40-II. Act II: 2ER93-II, 2ER94-II, 2ER95-I, 2BR319-1A, 2BR320-I, 2BR321-II, 2BR322.I, 2BR323-I, 2BR324-IA. Act III: 2ER90-I, 2ER89-I, 2BR330-I, 2ER97-I, 2ER98-II, 2BR325-IIA, 2ER43-I, 2ER44-I. Act IV: 2ER42-I, 2ER91-II, 2ER92-I, 2BR326-I, 2BR327-I, 2BR328-II, 2BR329-I
Volume One originally released in 1934, Volumes 2 and 3 in 1935 as HMV catalogue numbers: DB2474-9, DBS2583, DB2584-8, DB2589-93
Total duration: 1hr 56:25