Episode 82. Magda Olivero: La Verissima

Episode 82. Magda Olivero: La Verissima

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This week we celebrate the recent 111th birthday of the great Italian verista Magda Olivero. An extraordinary artist whose unusual career saw her taking a ten-year hiatus just as her career was gaining steam, to return in 1950 at the express request of the composer Francesco Cilea, who felt that her portrayal of the title role of his Adriana Lecouvreur was definitive (and of course he was right!) Olivero made a Metropolitan Opera debut as Tosca at the advanced age of 65; even after her official retirement, she continued to make occasional appearances in concert, including her final one at the age of 99! She began with a modest but capable voice and developed it into a finely-tuned instrument capable of taking on the most dramatic repertoire, including Cherubini’s Medea and Minnie in La fanciulla del West, but always capable of the finest pianissimo shadings. Her voice displays an extraordinary range of color and her dramatic acumen has never been matched. This week’s episode features a number of her live appearances in Amsterdam, including an extraordinary Adriana Lecouvreur from 1965 which features her at her artistic and vocal peak. The episode also features excerpts from an extraordinary live concert at the Church of San Jacopino in Firenze on 28 March 1969 which includes nearly superhuman displays of vocal skill and dramatic insight. Magda Olivero lived to the age of 104; though she is no longer with us on earth, her distinctive and unique artistry continues to inspire and delight lovers of opera and singing.

This episode was prepared with the kind assistance and input of my new friend Denis Robert, who maintains the Magda Olivero Archives page on YouTube. He was a personal friend of the artist and has done much to meticulously preserve her artistry and keep her legacy alive. He has provided me with high-quality masterings of many of the recordings featured on today’s episode and also regaled me with wonderful personal anecdotes and reminiscences of this great artist.

A link to Denis Robert’s marvelous articles about Magda Olivero: www.myscena.org/author/denis-robert

RECORDINGS HEARD IN THIS EPISODE

Giacomo Puccini: In quelle trine morbide (Manon Lescaut). Fulvio Vernizzi; Concertgebouw Orchestra [live Amsterdam 27 October 1962]

Giacomo Puccini: O mio babbino caro (Gianni Schicchi). Arturo Basile; Orchestra Sinfonica di Torino della RAI [1940]

Giacomo Puccini: Signore, ascolta (Turandot). Maria Concetta Balducci [live Firenze, Chiesa di San Jacopino 28 March 1969]

Francesco Cilea: La dolcissima effigie (Adriana Lecouvreur). Beniamino Gigli (Maurizio); Mario Rossi, Orchestra dell’Opera di Roma [live Roma 20 March 1940]

Alfredo Catalani: Amor, celeste ebbrezza (Loreley). Franco Mannino; Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano della RAI [15 December 1958]

Giacomo Puccini: Vissi d’arte (Tosca). Maria Concetta Balducci [live Firenze, Chiesa di San Jacopino 28 March 1969]

Giacomo Puccini: Il tuo sangue o il mio amore (Tosca). James Conlon, conductor [live Dallas 11 May 1979]

Giacomo Puccini: Taglia… Rance, mi duole delle amare parole (La fanciulla del West). Lino Puglisi (Rance); Arturo Basile, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale “G. Verdi” di Trieste [live Torino 6 March 1965]

Franco Alfano: Giunge il treno… Dio pietoso (Risurrezione). Giuseppe Gismondo, Nucci Condò; Elio Boncampagni, Orchestra Sinfonica di Torino della RAI [live Torino 30 January 1973]

Sammy Fain, Paul Francis Webster, Italian words by Devilli [né Alberto Curci]: L’amore è una cosa meravigliosa [Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing]. Unknown pianist [Milano, RAI Concert 3 December 1957]

Giuseppe Verdi: Ah! quell’amor… Sempre libera (La Traviata). Muzio Giovagnoli (Alfredo); Ugo Tansini, Orchestra Sinfonia di Torino della RAI [1940]

Giuseppe Verdi: Prendi, quest’è l’immagine (La Traviata). Doro Antonidi (Alfredo); Aldo Protti (Germont); Fulvio Vernizzi, Concertgebouw Orchestra [Amsterdam 6 May 1967]

Arrigo Boito: L’altra notte in fondo al mare (Mefistofele). Maria Concetta Baducci [live Firenze, Chiesa di San Jacopino 28 March 1969]

Francesco Cilea: Del sultano Amuratte… Io son l’umile ancella (Adriana Lecouvreur). Fulvio Vernizzi, Groot Omroeporkest [live Amsterdam 6 November 1965]

Francesco Cilea: Giusto ciel! (Adriana Lecouvreur). Fulvio Vernizzi, Groot Omroeporkest [live Amsterdam 6 November 1965]

Francesco Cilea: Poveri fiori (Adriana Lecouvreur). Maria Concetta Balducci [live Firenze, Chiesa di San Jacopino 28 March 1969]

Francesco Cilea: Guardi, sorridi, deh, parla! [Death Scene] (Adriana Lecouvreur). Ferrarndo Ferrari (Maurizio), Renato Capecchi (Michonnet); Fulvio Vernizzi, Groot Omroeporkest [live Amsterdam 6 November 1965]

Giuseppe Verdi: Ave Maria (Otello). Maria Concetta Balducci [live Firenze, Chiesa di San Jacopino [28 March 1969]

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