Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Italo MONTEMEZZI (1875-1952).
L’Amore Dei Tre Re. Opera in 3 acts, sung in Italian
‘Pinza Rarities’. (Magic Flute ‘O Isis’ rec 1928. L’Elisir d’Amore ‘Udite! O rustico’ rec 1938. La Reine de Saba by Gounod, ‘Sous les pieds’ rec 1946. Simon Boccanegra, ‘Il lacerato spirito’ rec1947. Xerses, ‘Ombra mai fu’. Rec 1947.)
Archibaldo, Ezio Pinza (bass).
Fiora, Grace Moore, (sop).
Avito, Charles Kullman (ten.).
Manfredo, Richard Bonelli (bar.).
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus conducted by the composer.
Live broadcast performance, Saturday Afternoon February 15th, 1941.
Bargain Price.
GUILD Immortal Performances GHCD 2234/2235 [74.47+67.07]


Crotchet  AmazonUK   AmazonUS

This performance has appeared in various guises since the days of LP. Some years ago I tried to listen to an earlier manifestation and gave it up, impatient of the poor sound. So the first good news here is that I was able to listen right through and with considerable enjoyment. Yes, the orchestra is a bit tinny at times and there is the odd bit of grit, but the voices are clearly heard and the dynamic variety wrought by the composer as conductor is there to be heard and enjoyed. It is, however, the singing of Ezio Pinza as the blind King Archibaldo that makes this performance a must for lovers of Italian opera. There is also the bonus of five arias, from various sources, sung by the great basso cantante.

The opera was first performed, to mixed reviews, at La Scala on April 10th 1913. However, it really took off the following year at the ‘Met’ under Toscanini’s baton. The story concerns Fiora (sop) who, for political reasons, has been forced to marry Manfredo (bar), the son of the blind King Archibaldo (bass). Whilst her husband is away fighting a campaign on behalf of his father, Fiora takes a lover (ten). She refuses to reveal the identity of her lover when caught unawares by her blind father-in-law and he strangles her (CD2 tr2). Knowing her lover will return to her he smears poison on her dead lips. His plan succeeds, not only for her lover, but also his son, as both kiss her lips in farewell.

Whilst it is the presence and singing of Pinza that is the great calling card of this performance, the others in the cast do not let the side down. Grace Moore, also known as a sexually alluring film star, is reputed to have got her Met contract as a consequence of her impact on Otto Kahn, President of the Met Board. I was pleasantly surprised at the fullness of her tone and range of expression, whilst Kullman’s plangent, but not very individual voice, and the strong toned baritone, fulfils what is required adequately, albeit with no special distinction. It is distinction that Pinza brings to his interpretation. He is full toned, powerful, smooth of legato and without any spread of tone as the voice rises to dramatic climax (CD 1 tr5). His ability to convey the many emotions of the King, frustration, rage, despair, by vocal nuance, phrasing and colour is a pleasure to listen to. It is also the rich nut-brown centre of the voice, and its smooth mellifluous tone that so seduces my ear.

The bonus tracks, titled ‘Pinza Rarities’, include a short interview with the singer from 1947, and range over a twenty-year period of the singer’s career. They cover a variety of genre and illustrate the qualities referred to as well as an amazing consistency of singing quality. Pinza’s Fiesco of 1947 (CD2 tr 17) is fiercely implacable; the concluding note set the (remaining) hair of this cool critic on end! In contrast his ‘Ombra mai fu’ of 1944, is smooth and serene.

This is as good as it gets with recordings from this source and period. Restorer Richard Caniell, who is also the author of the informative booklet notes, artist profiles, track related synopsis etc. is to be congratulated. Caniell also indicates that more performances featuring Pinza will follow. I for one cannot wait.

Robert J Farr

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Northern Flowers
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.