COMPOSERS: Alberto Costa,Barrozo Netto,Carlos Gomes,Ernani Braga
WORKS: First recordings, early Thirties, & radio broadcasts, 1948-51
PERFORMER: Bidú Sayão (soprano), etc
CATALOGUE NO: VAIA 1171 ADD mono
Naxos has issued a 1945 Metropolitan Opera broadcast of RIGOLETTO featuring Bidú Sayão, Jussi Björling and Leonard Warren under the vibrant direction of Cesare Sodero. The full sound is not always smooth, but the performance is exciting, moving and impressively sung.
Two of the principals are the subjects of recent recital discs: BJÖRLING in a selection of his HMV recordings from 1936-48, transferred by Mark Obert-Thorn for Naxos, and SAYÃO in an intriguing selection of early commercial recordings (mostly Brazilian songs) and late radio broadcasts (opera arias and duets, mostly from the lyric repertoire) on VAI.
Björling needs no more encomia for these celebrated recordings, especially since the expressive vulnerability that makes them attractive derives in part from an involuntary technical flaw: at some points in most phrases he aims or holds the voice, marginally compromising intonation and line.
Sayão is a coloratura soprano with a difference: she may not give quite so effortless an impression in passages of agility as, say, Lily Pons, but she has more temperament and vocal intensity – and thus a greater capacity for heart-rendingly expressive singing.
It’s sometimes bemusing to hear historical recordings that feature ‘legends’ who were little known in their own day.