Del Monaco in Moscow (Live)

Disc number in the directory:
MEL CD 1001663
Recorded:
1959
Release:
2010
In June of 1959 Moscow gave a hearty welcome to Mario Del Monaco, one of the best tenors of the world, the soloist of Milanese “La Scala”. Being on tour in the Soviet Union for the first time the singer met many admirers of his wonderful talent. Soviet listeners knew the famous singer well owing to his acting in the films “Enrico Caruso: leggenda di una voce (Young Caruso)” and “Giuseppe Verdi” as well as to his numerous recordings.

From the Interview with Mario Del Monaco (Magazine “Soviet Music”, 1959, №8)
“The reception in Moscow was beyond any of my expectations. Probably, nowhere I have been welcomed with such hearty warmth. I have performed in “Pagliacci” more than 100 times nevertheless I am nervous before my entrance on the stage. Canio’s part is difficult both vocally and dramatically. The singer cannot make a pause, rest in this opera, there are no “passing” recitatives or intermediate scenes; one must sing continuously, sing expressively, in full voice. It is difficult to conduct the opera “Pagliacci” as there are few completed melodious episodes, and the action develops swiftly. I saw a serious “rival” in Maestro Nebolsin for Melik-Pashaev who magnificently conducted “Carmen”. I must say that the Bolshoi Theatre orchestra under conduction of these two great masters rang splendidly. The cast of the soloists (L. Maslennikova, A. Ivanov, N. Timchenko, E. Belov) who possess very good vocal makings, to my mind, took part in this performance. I am leaving Moscow under the impression of warm and hearty reception that the Muscovites gave to me …”

The contest for composing of the best one act opera that had been announced by the Milanese publisher E. Sonzogno caused writing “Pagliacci (Clowns)”. However, Ruggero Leoncavallo made a two act opera and was not allowed to take part in the contest. The text of the libretto was written by Leoncavallo himself and, according to the author’s words, was based on real events. In the original Leoncavallo named his opera “Il Pagliaccio”. At the premiere the part of Tonio had to be performed by the famous French baritone Victor Maurel. The capricious singer stated that his repertoire included only those operas that contained the mentioning of his part. As it concerned Leoncavallo’s opera, the name of the drama referred only to the part of tenor – Clown. “If the title of the opera is not changed, I refuse to sing”, declared the singer. In order not to endanger the premiere the publisher found a brilliant decision to write the title of the opera in the plural – “Pagliacci (Clowns)”, thus he included the part of baritone into the name of the opera. The first night took place in Milan Opera House in May 21, 1892 and was an incredible success. Soon the opera spread over the stages of the world and has been included in the repertoire since then.

Sung in Italian (Del Monaco) and Russian (other cast). Live recording from the Bolshoi Theatre on June 20, 1959

Characters and performers:
Canio – Mario Del Monaco, tenor
Nedda – Leocadia Maslennikova, soprano
Tonio – Alexey Ivanov, bariton
Beppo – Nikolay Timchenko, tenor
Silvio – Evgeny Belov, bariton



In June of 1959 Moscow gave a hearty welcome to Mario Del Monaco, one of the best tenors of the world, the soloist of Milanese “La Scala”. Being on tour in the Soviet Union for the first time the singer met many admirers of his wonderful talent. Soviet listeners knew the famous singer well owing to his acting in the films “Enrico Caruso: leggenda di una voce (Young Caruso)” and “Giuseppe Verdi” as well as to his numerous recordings.

Even the first performance of Del Monaco as Jose in the Bolshoi Theatre production “Carmen” did justice to his world-wide fame. Muscovites were fascinated by the singer’s voice - with its unusual beauty, power and rich colouring of the sound. In Jose’s very first phrases Del Monaco showed splendid expressiveness, clear, precise diction and subtle artistry. His outstanding vocal potentialities are combined with startling mastery. Whenever reaching the power of the sound the singer’s voice has never lost its light silver colouring, softness and beauty of the timbre, heartfelt expressiveness. Both his mezzo voce and powerful piano are equally beautiful and freely ring out high in the concert hall dome. Virtuosic command of the breathing that provides the singer with the perfect point for the sound, liveliness of every sound and word – these are Del Monaco’s principals of mastery; they allow him to overcome extreme vocal difficulties. It looks as if there were no problems of tessitura for him. When you listen to Del Monaco’s singing it seems that his resource of the vocal technique is inexhaustible.

The matter is that the technical mastery of the singer is totally under the command of the art aims. Mario Del Monaco is a genuine great actor: his brilliant temperament is polished by taste and mastery; the tiniest details of his singing and performance are carefully thought over. What is necessary to stress that he is an outstanding musician. His every phrase is notable for its strictness. Del Monaco’s art, academic in the finest sense of this word, represents the real idea of the classic foundation of the Italian vocal school.

The singer’s theatre mastery is academic in its strictness and inner contents. Del Monaco’s behaves naturally on the stage, with noble simplicity and elegance, all his movements and gestures are reasonable. True to life and complete from the point of art, at the same time Jose’s image is marked with unprecedented originality of his inner and outer world. The performance greatly impressed the listeners.

The part of Canio (“Pagliacci (Clowns)” by R. Leoncavallo) was performed by Del Monaco with the same great acclaim. The singer was conspicuous again with both his vocal mastery and the talent of a dramatic actor. Unlimited grief of the suffering soul, torture and horror of inevitability ring tragically in Canio’s popular arioso “Laugh, Clown (Vesti la giubba)” and in the second act in the arioso “No, I am not a clown! (No! Pagliaccio non son!)”

The parts of Nedda performed by L. Maslennikova, Tonio – by A. Ivanov, Beppe – by N. Timchenko, Silvio – by E. Belov were a great success. V. Nebolsin conducted the performance with subtle musical taste and high drama.

The performance is over but the charmed audience encores the favourite singer. It goes without saying that such art brings people joy and light uniting their best noble feelings.

 

Elena Katulskaja

(from the article “Del Monaco on the stage of the Bolshoi Theatre”, Magazine “Soviet Music”, 1959, №8)




From the Interview with Mario Del Monaco

Both my father and mother taught me to love music; I started singing when I was seven or eight. My father didn’t have appropriate musical education but he was an expert on vocal art. He dreamt that some of his sons would become a famous singer. He even named his children after the characters of operas: I was named after the main hero of “Tosca”, my brother Marcello -in honour of Marcel from “La Bohème”. At first my father’s choice fell on my brother Marcello; he considered that he inherited voice from mother. Once father told him in my presence “You will sing the part of Andrea Chénier, and you will wear a beautiful jacket and high heeled boots”. Frankly speaking, I was envious at that moment.

My first teacher of singing was my mother who had a good though not trained voice. I began to sing seriously at the age of 19. We lived in town of Pesaro. I studied in an art college and at the same time took lessons from Maestro Milocchi in the Academy of Music. I had to take lessons of music secretly as it was forbidden to study in two colleges. The Head of the Academy pretended that he knew nothing.

After I had studied singing for two years I went to Rome to take part in a vocal contest. Five of 180 participants were awarded grants and I was among those five. That award entitled me to the right to enter the school at the then Royal Opera House in Rome.

However, I didn’t study long – suddenly I almost lost my voice (I could hardly reach “sol”) and had to return to Pesaro. Soon I joined the army where I practiced singing on my own.

My first performance on the opera stage took place in a provincial town of Calia, not far from Pesaro in 1940. I sang the part of Turrida in Mascagni's “Cavalleria Rusticana”. The real beginning of my carrier refers to 1943 when I debuted in “La Bohème” in Milanese La Scala.

In 1944 my childhood dream came true – I sang in “Andrea Chénier”. Maestro Raffaelli presented me with the portrait signed: To my dear Chénier. Two years later I went touring abroad. I sang in “Aida”, “Turandot” and “Andrea Chénier” in London Covent Garden.

Recently I have been searching much and persistently for new ways of truthful and expressive rendering of an image. An author’s word, idea has been getting more and more meaning for me. The time when singers only sang in an opera has passed. Now a singer must produce emotional and substantial performance. Outstanding, unequalled singers were Shalyapin, Caruso and Titta Ruffo. They were three giants. I learnt how to sing from Caruso, and how to act – from Shalyapin.

I am absolutely sure that genuine art is realism. That is why my favourite opera is “Othello”. There Verdi performs as a realist who could shape the powerful Shakespearean words into a genius musical form. I also love the operas of my compatriots – Puccini, Mascagni. I am astonished by realism of Russian operas: “Boris Godunov” and “Khovanshchina” by Mussorgsky and “The Queen of Spades” by Tchaikovsky.

There are 46 operatic parts in my repertoire but now I mainly sing in 10-12 operas; “Othello” in the first place, then “Andrea Chénier”, “Aida”, “Il Trovatore”, “Carmen”, “Tosca” and “Pagliacci”.

I consider it honour that I sang on the greatest stages of the world. However, today’s performance on the stage of the Bolshoi Theatre was a serious test for me as I highly evaluate the realistic traditions of the Russian opera art, and Mussorgsky’s traditions in the first place.

The reception in Moscow was beyond any of my expectations. Probably, nowhere I have been welcomed with such hearty warmth.

I have performed in “Pagliacci” more than 100 times nevertheless I am nervous before my entrance on the stage. Canio’s part is difficult both vocally and dramatically. The singer cannot make a pause, rest in this opera, there are no “passing” recitatives or intermediate scenes; one must sing continuously, sing expressively, in full voice.

It is difficult to conduct the opera “Pagliacci” as there are few completed melodious episodes, and the action develops swiftly. I saw a serious “rival” in Maestro Nebolsin for Melik-Pashaev who magnificently conducted “Carmen”. I must say that the Bolshoi Theatre orchestra under conduction of these two great masters rang splendidly. The cast of the soloists (L. Maslennikova, A. Ivanov, N. Timchenko, E. Belov) who possess very good vocal makings, to my mind, took part in this performance.

I am leaving Moscow under the impression of warm and hearty reception that the Muscovites gave to me …

Mario Del Monaco

(Magazine “Soviet Music”, 1959, №8)



Track List

  • 1
    Pagliacci, Prologue, Introduction: "Excuse me!.." (Live)
    Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Alexei Ivanov, Vasily Nebolsin, Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre (Ruggero Leoncavallo)
    7:31
  • 2
    Pagliacci, Act I, Scene 1: Chorus - "Here they are!" (Live)
    Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Choir of the Bolshoi Theater, Vasily Nebolsin, Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre, Chorus of the Bolshoi Theatre (Ruggero Leoncavallo)
  • 3
    Pagliacci, Act I, Scene 1: Scene and Arioso-Cantabile - "Such a Game, Believe Me, it's Better not to Play on Me..." (Live)
    Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Mario del Monaco, Vasily Nebolsin, Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre (Ruggero Leoncavallo)
    3:56
  • 4
    Pagliacci, Act I, Scene 1: Scene and Bell Chorus (Live)
    Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Choir of the Bolshoi Theater, Vasily Nebolsin, Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre, Chorus of the Bolshoi Theatre (Ruggero Leoncavallo)
  • 5
    Pagliacci, Act I, Scene 2: Scene and Ballade "Oh What a Flight of Birds, and What a Chatter!.." (Live)
    Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Leocadia Maslennikova, Vasily Nebolsin, Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre (Ruggero Leoncavallo)
    4:23
  • 6
    Pagliacci, Act I, Scene 2: Scene and Duetto "So You're there! I Thought You'd Gone..." (Live)
    Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Leocadia Maslennikova, Alexei Ivanov, Vasily Nebolsin, Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre (Ruggero Leoncavallo)
    4:44
  • 7
    Pagliacci, Act I, Scene 3: Duetto "Nedda! Silvio! At this Hour, what Folly.." (Live)
    Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Leocadia Maslennikova, Yevgeny Belov, Vasily Nebolsin, Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre (Ruggero Leoncavallo)
    8:31
  • 8
    Pagliacci, Act I, Scene 4: Scene and Finale "Go Slowly and You'll Surprise them..." (Live)
    Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Mario del Monaco, Leocadia Maslennikova, Alexei Ivanov, Nikolai Timchenko, Yevgeny Belov, Vasily Nebolsin, Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre (Ruggero Leoncavallo)
    4:28
  • 9
    Pagliacci, Act I: Recitative and Arioso "Put on your Costume and Powder your Face..." (Live)
    Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Mario del Monaco, Vasily Nebolsin, Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre (Ruggero Leoncavallo)
    3:33
  • 10
    Pagliacci, Act II: Intermezzo (Live)
    Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Vasily Nebolsin, Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre (Ruggero Leoncavallo)
    2:55
  • 11
    Pagliacci, Act II, Scene 1: Chorus "Right Away! Let's Make Haste, Friends!.." (Live)
    Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Choir of the Bolshoi Theater, Vasily Nebolsin, Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre, Chorus of the Bolshoi Theatre (Ruggero Leoncavallo)
    3:56
  • 12
    Pagliacci, Act II, Scene 2: Prelude and Scene - "My Husband Pagliaccio will Return only Late Tonight..." (Live)
    Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Leocadia Maslennikova, Vasily Nebolsin, Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre (Ruggero Leoncavallo)
    1:27
  • 13
    Pagliacci, Act II, Scene 2: Serenata - "O, Colombina!.." (Live)
    Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Nikolai Timchenko, Vasily Nebolsin, Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre (Ruggero Leoncavallo)
    2:01
  • 14
    Pagliacci, Act II, Scene 2: Comic Relief (Live)
    Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Leocadia Maslennikova, Alexei Ivanov, Vasily Nebolsin, Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre (Ruggero Leoncavallo)
    3:15
  • 15
    Pagliacci, Act II, Scene 2: Duettino and Scene (Live)
    Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Leocadia Maslennikova, Nikolai Timchenko, Vasily Nebolsin, Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre (Ruggero Leoncavallo)
    1:54
  • 16
    Pagliacci, Act II, Scene 2: Scene and Final Duetto "Run!.." (Live)
    Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Mario del Monaco, Leocadia Maslennikova, Vasily Nebolsin, Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre (Ruggero Leoncavallo)
    8:26
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