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Maria Galvany (1878-1949)
Giacomo ROSSINI (1792-1868)

Il Barbiere di Siviglia: Una voce poco fa
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835)

La Sonnambula: Son geloso del zeffiro errante with Aristodemo Giorgini
I Puritani: Qui la voce sua soave
La Sonnambula: Prendi, l´anel ti dono with Fernando De Lucia
La Sonnambula: Oh ciel, che tento with Andres Perello de Segurola
La Sonnambula: Ah, Non giunge uman pensiero
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)

L’Elisir d’Amore: Chiedli all´aurora lusinghieri with Aristodemo Giorgini
Don Pasquale: Tornani a dir che m’ami with Aristodemo Giorgini
Lucia di Lammermoor: Splendon le sacre face
Linda di Chamounix: O luce di quest’anima
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)

Mireille: Oh d’amor messaggera
Romeo und Julia (Romeo et Juliette): Nella calma
Ambroise THOMAS (1811-1896)

Hamlet: Ed ora a voi cantero una canzon
Luigi ARDITI (1822-1903)

L´ Incantatrice
Heinrich PROCH

Ruperto Chapi y LORENTE   

Hijas de Zebedeo: Carcelleras
Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864)

Dinorah: Ombra leggiera
Leo DÉLIBES (1835-1891)

Lakmé: Dov´é l´India bruna
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

La Traviata: Sempre ligera degg’io with Remo Andreini

Maria Galvany
Unidentified orchestras and accompanists as above
Recorded 1906-08
PREISER 89578 [75.10]



The Spanish soprano Maria Galvany studied in Madrid and made her debut in 1897 as Lucia di Lammermoor. She had quite an extensive career on discs and sang at a number of important opera houses though never at the most important. So no La Scala, no Covent Garden and no Metropolitan. But elsewhere she proved a draw being popular in Lisbon and in smaller Italian houses and in Nice. The noted biographer and operatic historian the late Leo Riemens speculates in his notes that it was odd that she never won success on a bigger stage but I think that the reasons are all too clear from this extraordinary series of discs made between 1906 and 1908.

Her great distinctiveness is in her balletic, incendiary and incessantly deployed machine gun staccato. It crops up everywhere. Clearly it was something of a trademark of hers and maybe expected and has to be heard to be believed. The technique here, and generally, is certainly out of the ordinary but the voice itself can be hard and metallic and not especially attractive (try Una voce poco fa). Not only is her vibrato rather hard and fast but also the effect of listening to so many canary-ish tricks begins to grate. In fact hers is a voice that when she hits the high E flat staccatos (which she does with uncanny accuracy let it be said) has been compared to that of a whistling kettle. That’s not unkind criticism, either.

The repertoire is essentially Italian and the selections are enlivened by some duets. It’s true that she did made sides with such as de Lucia and Ruffo – two stellar names in anyone’s book – so she was clearly esteemed in a number of quarters. Those discs have been reissued often enough and only one de Lucia is here – and they do give some persuasive evidence that she could scale down her bag of tricks when confronted with a fellow artist of stature and musical value. The piano-accompanied Prendi, l´anel ti dono with de Lucia demonstrates that the yielding and elegant de Lucia had an entirely beneficial effect on Galvany. Elsewhere Giorgini, whilst by no means negligible, proves rather more inert and lugubrious. In fact some of her best, least affected and mechanical, singing comes when she joins a fellow Spaniard, de Segurola for their extract from one of her great showpiece works, Oh ciel, che tento from La Sonnambula. Perhaps in the end though, because more characteristic, one should remember her by her Verdi where the balance between attractive phrasing and ridiculous roulades is almost total.

Galvany died in obscurity in Rio de Janeiro in 1949. It was a sad end to what had once been a good career. In the end she lacked the musical instincts to take her to the top. Her vocal pyrotechnics and staccato gunslinging just didn’t pass muster even then and when the technique went there must have been little left. These discs, now almost a century old have been vividly transferred. There’s a deal of surface noise but the ear adjusts quickly and in the circumstances distractions have been excellently minimised. They give renewed life to an important voice in early recordings.

Jonathan Woolf

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