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Lawrence Tibbett (1896-1960)
Giacomo ROSSINI (1792 - 1868)

Il Barbiere di Siviglia: Largo al factotum
Guiseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

Un ballo in maschera: Eri tu che macchiavi
Simone Boccanegra: Dinne...alcun là non vedesti?
Simone Boccanegra: Plebe! Patrizii! Popolo
Othello (Otello): Inaffia l´ugola! trinca, tracana
Othello (Otello): Vanne...Credo in un Dio crudel
Othello (Otello): E qual certezza sognate...Era la notte
Othello (Otello): Oh, mostruosa colpa!...Si, pel ciel
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)

Tannhäuser: Wie Todesahnung Dämm’rung
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)

Margarethe (Faust): Avant de quitter ces lieux
Georges BIZET (1838 - 1875)

Carmen: Votre toast je peux vous le render
Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1858-1919)

I Pagliacci: Si può?
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)

Tosca: Tre sbirri, una carrozza

The King’s Henchman: Oh, Caesar, great wert thou!
The King’s Henchman: Nay, Maccus, lay him down
Louis GRUENBERG (1884-1964)

Emperor Jones: Standin` in the need of prayer
Howard HANSON (1896-1981)

Merry Mount; Oh ‘tis an Earth Defiled
Lawrence Tibbett (baritone)
Orchestra/Nathaniel Shilkret and Rosario Bourdon
Metropolitan Opera House Orchestra/Giulio Setti and Wilfred Pelletier
Recorded 1926-39
PREISER 89576 [77.32]



Tibbett has been relatively well served by CD reissues but it does no harm to be reminded of his powerful and communicative musicianship. Always a dramatic and dashing figure he was perfect casting for Verdi but was also active in propagating modern American work - Gruenberg, Hanson, Deems Taylor amongst them and all represented on this disc – as indeed he was when taking part in the premiere of Eugene Goossens’ Don Juan de Mañara.

The Victors range from 1926 to 1939. It was a crucial span of years. He’d made his debut at the Met, albeit in small roles, in 1924 very soon after completing singing studies with Frank La Forge and his first recordings followed soon after (the 1926 Leoncavallo is here). For the next fifteen or so years he reigned resplendent as the leading American baritone and we catch him therefore in his prime. It doesn’t much matter that the strings are thin and listless behind him in the Shilkret-conducted quartet of sides. The singing itself is powerful, sensitive and illuminated by lightening application of senza vibrato. His Rossini Factotum is a little marvel of tongue twisting alacrity – in fact so tongue twisting that I couldn’t catch it. His Verdi is certainly, unambiguously masculine, the voice powerfully projected and very firmly centred – but it’s also one that can lighten with shades of inflection. It’s not at all marmoreal or unvaried. There’s the famous recording with Rose Brampton of the stretto from Simon Boccanegra. She’s not as impressive as Tibbett whose virility is electric. Warren, Martinelli and Robert Nicholson join them from a recording made at the same session.

The examples of Tibbett’s work with hot-off-the–press Americana is represented by that trio earlier mentioned. Merry Mount is available, complete, on Naxos but these snippets are enough to whet the appetite. The balance between voice and orchestra and choir is fine in the Taylor and the qualities of Tibbett’s histrionic projection are nowhere more evident than in Emperor Jones where he well nigh blasts the needle. This is a good, well-constructed and representative collection of Tibbett. Sound quality is good, matrix and issue details are here, notes are brief, in German and English, but cover the biography pretty well. You’ll need Tibbett in your baritone pantheon; this is a good place to start and then radiate outwards.

Jonathan Woolf

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