Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Cos?â?¼ fan tutte
The Glyndebourne Festival Opera House opened its doors tothe public on 28th May 1934 with a performance of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaroconducted by Fritz Busch. Two months earlier, however, members of HMV'sInternational Artists' Department had visited the new house near Lewes inSussex to evaluate the acoustics of the auditorium. They were sufficientlyimpressed by both the sound and musical performance to undertake testrecordings of an actual performance in late May 1934.
HMV's Record Testing Committee immediately listened to theseprocessed recordings, moving quickly to undertake commercial studio recordingsof the various ensembles from the Mozart opera on 6th June 1934. Fourteen 78rpm sides were made on that single date, one unidentified side being damaged atthe factory during processing. This event marked the first occasion on whichany attempt had been made to record a Mozart opera.
As HMV's Fred Gaisberg later recalled: \When I read of JohnChristie's project to found a Mozart Festival at Glyndebourne, I thought it apipe dream, but when I learned that Fritz Busch and Carl Ebert were to havefull artistic control I realised it was a serious effort. Their standing and names were aguarantee that it would not be tarred with the brush of an amateur. I sawenough of the careful groundwork and personal attention to detail to convinceme that this success would be beyond dispute. With enthusiasm I signed withChristie an engagement for the exclusive right of making discs. We did ourrecording with a mobile van at the end of the season, when the company werewell soaked in their parts and their teamwork perfect".
The following summer the balance of Figaro was recorded,excepting the recitatives and three arias in Act 4, on 24th and 28th June inthe Opera House at Glyndebourne. Additionally, in between these dates, it wasalso planned to record the whole of Cos?â?¼ fan tutte in three days. This wasslightly over-ambitious, however, and the recording had to be finished on the28th. Nevertheless, it was a remarkable achievement to record forty sidescomprising the whole opera in so short a time. As Gaisberg so rightlypredicted, this would not have been possible without earlier meticulous andthorough musical preparation. Following the accepted norm of the time, the duettino in Act 1 betweenFerrando and Guglielmo 'Al fato dan legge', and three arias in Act 2, 'Tradito,schernito dal perfido cor', 'Ah, lo veggio' (both for Ferrando) and 'E amore unladroncell' (Dorabella) were all omitted, with two small cuts, one being in theFinale to the opera. Fritz Busch was adamantly opposed to the use ofharpsichord in the secco recitatives and it is this more than anything elsewhich dates the style of performance. Although HMV had planned to publish thenew recording for Christmas 1935, it was eventually published in spring thefollowing year, just prior to the Glyndebourne season.
The critical response to the recording was positive from thestart. "One of the most enchanting sets ever made. The cast contains no weakspots and the many ensemble movements are ideally balanced, both in performanceand recording. It is a triumph for all concerned." Two decades later, criticswould comment: "It is the best balanced in casting of all the pre-warGlyndebourne operas, because the cast is a compact unit. Furthermore, since theopera is essentially a series of ensembles, this is the prime excellence of therecording". Time and again, it is the splendid sense of team-work which iscommented upon in this recording, captured splendidly by the excellent recordedsound. What is also remarkable is that the members of this ensemble comprised aCanadian, two Austrians, an Englishman, a German and an Australian - veryinternational.
Overseeing the musical performance was Fritz Busch (1890-1951).He was born in Siegen, Westphalia, Germany, studied first locally and later inCologne with Fritz Steinbach. After appointments in Riga (1909), Aachen (1921),Stuttgart (1918-22) as General Music Director, he was appointed to DresdenState Opera, where for a decade he raised the musical standards to a highlevel. Busch, who was vehemently opposed to the ethos of Hitler and the NaziParty, resigned in 1933. He then worked in Buenos Aires (1934-36 and 1941-45)and the Metropolitan Opera in New York (1945-49). It was his achievements atGlyndebourne from 1934 to 1939 and 1950-51, however, which have kept his namealive. His testament as an outstanding Mozartian is exemplified in hisrecordings of the three Da Ponte operas, allied to memorable performances ofboth Verdi and Wagner. He was also much admired as a symphonic conductor. Hewas the brother of the violinist Adolf Busch.
The r?â??le of Fiordiligi is sung by the Canadian soprano InaSouez (1908-1992). Born in Windsor, Ontario, she studied first in Denver,Colorado, and then in Milan. Shemade her debut in Ivrea as Mim?â?¼ in Puccini's La Boh?â?¿me. The following year shesang a memorable Li?â?? in Turandot at Covent Garden, where she would also appearas Mica?â?½la in Carmen in 1935. In 1929 she married an Englishman and lived inLondon until 1938. She appeared between 1934 and 1936 at Glyndebourne, whereshe sang Fiordiligi and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. Souez sang at the StockholmOpera in 1939 and at the New York City Opera in 1941. During the Second WorldWar she was a member of the US Army's Women Auxiliary Corps. After 1945 shesang for a number of years as a vocalist with Spike Jones and the CitySlickers, before retiring and teaching in California. Her recorded performanceof Fiordiligi is widely regarded as the yardstick by which all subsequentinterpretations have been measured.
The Dorabella was the Austrian-born soprano LuiseHelletsgruber (1898-1967). Trained in her native city of Vienna, she joined theState Opera, remaining a member until 1942. Between 1928 and 1937 she appearedregularly at the Salzburg Festival, where she sang Cherubino in Le nozze diFigaro and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. Her Glyndebourne years were between 1934and 1938, where she sang Cherubino in addition to Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni,the First Lady in Die Zauberflote and Dorabella. She possessed a vibrant vocalquality allied with an attractive stage presence. She died as a result of a car accident in Vienna.
The vivacious Irene Eisinger (1903-1994) is the vibrant Despinain this recording. Born in Kosel, Silesia, Austria, she studied in Viennabefore making her debut in Basel in 1926. She joined the Vienna State Opera in1930 and also appeared at the Salzburg Festival between 1930 and 1933. Forcedto leave Germany, she sang at the German Opera in Prague during the 1933-34season. She appeared at Glyndebourne between 1934 and 1939 and again inEdinburgh with the company in 1949. Her r?â??les included Despina, Papagena in DieZauberflote, Blondchen in Die Entf?â??hrung aus dem Serail and Susanna in Le nozzedi Figaro. Additionally, she sang the r?â??le of Polly in the 1940 Londonproduction of The Beggar's Opera. Eisinger was a fine coloratura soprano and an excellent soubrette, as waswitnessed by her Gretel, and Adele in Die Fledermaus (both sung in English)during the 1936 Winter Season at Covent Garden. From 1938 onwards she lived inLondon.
Heddle Nash (1894-1961) was certainly the finest Englishlyric tenor of his generation as can be witnessed though his recordings. As a Mozartianhe was certainly more elegant and stylistically accomplished than his Italiancontemporaries and on a par with any German or Austrian tenor of his time. Hewas also a vocalist of considerable vocal charm and f