Umberto Giordano (1867-1948)
The Italian tenor Beniamino Gigli (1980-1957) madecommercial studio recordings over a period of 37 years (1918-1955). He was alsothe first international singer to record a whole series of complete operas inthe studio between 1934 and 1946. He began with Pagliacci in 1934 [Naxos8.110155], followed by La Boh?â?¿me [8.11072-73] and Tosca [8.11096-97] in 1938,Madama Butterfly (1939) [8.110183-84], Cavalleria rusticana (1940)[8.110714-15], Andrea Chenier (1941), Un ballo in maschera (1943) [8.110178-79]and Aida in 1946 [8.110156-57]. The three made during the years of the SecondWorld War are noteworthy in that no country other than Italy during this periodundertook complete recordings of operas for commercial release. Furthermore,these recordings were made purely for the Italian market as all direct contactwith EMI's head office in England had been severed with the outbreak ofhostilities between Italy and Britain in the summer of 1940. In the case ofAndrea Chenier, the recording was not released in Britain until 1949, and thenonly to special order, and in the United States only in 1954 on LP.
The r?â??le of the revolutionary poet suited Gigli toperfection: it was always one of his favourite parts. Furthermore, it was thisopera which introduced the tenor to London in 1931. There is a splendid ardourand passion in his singing. His career had taken wing when he won first prizein an international contest in Parma in 1914, the year he also made his debutin Rovigo as Enzo in La Gioconda. Four years later Gigli appeared at the Teatroalla Scala as Faust in Mefistofele, the r?â??le in which he would make his debutat the Metropolitan Opera in 1920. The tenor would continue to sing at the NewYork house every season until 1932 when he left in protest against salary cuts.He would return in 1938-39. Gigli sang at Covent Garden in the years 1930-31and 1938-39 and in 1946 sang with the visiting San Carlo Opera with hisdaughter Rina in La Boh?â?¿me and Pagliacci. He sang throughout Europe and SouthAmerica and continued to make stage appearances until 1953. In 1955 he made afarewell tour of both Britain and the United States, in addition to making hisfinal studio recordings at the age of 65. During the 1930s and 1940s he alsoappeared in over fifteen films. Anything he may have lacked in acting abilitywas more than compensated by the sheer beauty of his voice.
Thelyrico-spinto soprano Maria Caniglia (1905-1979) was born and studied inNaples, making her debut in Turin in 1930 as Chrysothemis in Elektra. The sameyear she appeared at the Teatro alla Scala as Maria in Pizzetti's Lo straniero,a house where she would sing regularly until 1943 and again from 1948-1951. Herinternational career took flight in 1935 when she sang Alice in Falstaff underToscanini at the Salzburg Festival. Caniglia appeared at Covent Garden in 1937,1939 and again in 1950 with the visiting La Scala Company. She visited BuenosAires in 1937 and her single season at the Metropolitan in New York was during1938-39. She also created a variety of r?â??les including Respighi's Lucrezia inMilan in 1937. She retired during the late 1950s. Never the most finished orpolished of performers she always conveyed a dramatic excitement and commitmentto her interpretations. Caniglia appeared in a single film Il vento mi acantato una canzone in 1947. She recorded Tosca, Un ballo in maschera and Aidawith Gigli. She was married to the Italian composer Pino Donati (1907-1975).
The baritone Gino Bechi (1913-1993) was born and studied inFlorence before making his debut in Empoli as Germont p?â?¿re in La traviata in1936. He was then engaged by the Teatro Reale in Rome in 1938, appearingregularly until 1952, and at La Scala from 1939 to 1953. He became the leadingItalian dramatic baritone during these years, especially in Verdi and verismor?â??les, as can be witnessed by the complete recordings alongside Gigli in the1940s. Bechi's London debut was with the visiting La Scala Company in 1950 andhe also appeared in the title-r?â??le of Rossini's Guglielmo Tell in the TheatreRoyal, Drury Lane, in 1958. The baritone's American appearances were confinedto Chicago and Buenos Aires. Sadly, much of the beauty of his voice haddiminished by the 1950s and he then moved into films, making in all a total often. He retired in 1965, later teaching and also directing operas.
The mezzo-soprano Giulietta Simionato (born 1910) studied inboth Rovigo and Padua. She won a singing competition in Florence in 1933 beforemaking her debut in Florence in Pizzetti's Ors?â?¿olo in 1935. Her firstappearance at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan was as Beppe in L'amico Fritz in1939. Her international career began when she sang at the first EdinburghFestival in 1947. This was followed by engagements throughout Europe beforesinging at Covent Garden in 1953 as Adalgisa in Norma and Amneris in Aidaopposite Callas; she would return again during the years 1963-65. Simionato wasa regular performer at the Salzburg Festival between 1957 and 1963 beforemaking her belated American debut in New York in October 1959 as Azucena in Iltrovatore, a house to which she returned in 1960 and 1962. Simionato retiredfrom the stage in 1966. She was among the finest mezzos of her time, being amuch-admired interpreter of the principal Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini and Verdir?â??les.
The baritone Giuseppe Taddei (born 1916) was born andinitially studied in Genoa and later Rome. His debut was as the Herald inLohengrin in 1936. After war service in the Italian army, he first appeared inVienna between 1946 and 1948, before singing in London with the New LondonOpera Company at the Cambridge Theatre as Rigoletto and Scarpia in 1947. Thefollowing year he was engaged as Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro at the SalzburgFestival. Taddei's first appearances at the Teatro alla Scala took place in theautumn of that year and he would continue to sing at this house until 1961. HisCovent Garden debut was in 1960 and he returned regularly until 1967, while hisbelated introduction to New York was in 1985 in the title-r?â??le of Falstaff.Renowned as a memorable interpreter of all the main Verdi baritone r?â??les,Taddei was a much-admired Mozartian and also excelled as Hans Sachs, Wolfram inTannhauser and the Dutchman. He also sang buffo parts to great effect.
The bass Italo Tajo (1915-1993) studied in Turin, making hisdebut there as Fafner in Das Rheingold in 1935, the same year he appeared atthe fledgling Glyndebourne Festival. After singing in various provincial Italianhouses, he was engaged in Rome in 1942 as the Doctor in a famous wartimeproduction of Berg's Wozzeck. After his debut at La Scala in 1946, Tajo soonmade his American debut in Chicago, and within two years was singing Basilio inIl barbiere di Siviglia at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, a house in whichhe would appear until 1950. The bass returned to Britain in 1947, singingFigaro in Le nozze di Figaro and the title-r?â??le in Don Pasquale at theEdinburgh Festival. He also appeared in San Francisco between 1948 and 1952. In1966 Tajo was appointed 'basso in residence' at the University of CincinattiCollege-Conservatory. Then in 1976 he returned to the Metropolitan to singcharacter parts, continuing until 1982. He was also much admired for his performancesin contemporary works by Malipiero, Milhaud, Nono and Pizzetti.
The conductor and composer Oliviero de Fabriitis (1902-1982)studied composition and conducting with Refice and Setaccioli in his home cityof Rome, before making his debut at the Teatro Adriano in 1920. CreatedArtistic Secretary to the Rome Opera in 1934, a post he would hold until 1943,he also