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Tito Schipa – Disques Pathé
Ruggiero LEONCAVALLO (1857-1919)

Pagliacci – Serenade
Zaza – Ed ora
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)

Tosca – O dolce mani
Tosca – Amaro sol with Baldassare-Tedeschi
Recondita armonia
E lucevan
La Bohème – Che gelida manina
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

Rigoletto – Questa o quella
La donna e mobile
La Traviata – Lunge dai lei
Falstaff – Del labbro il canto estasiato
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)

Don Pasquale – Povero Enersto
Arthur TATE (1880-1950)

Somewhere a voice is calling
Teodoro COTTRAU (1827-1879)

Santa Lucia
Paolo TOSTI (1846-1916)

Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835)

La Sonnambula – Prendi l’anel ti dono
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945)

Cavalleria rusticana - Sicilienne
Jules MASSENET (1842 –1912)

Manon – La rêve de des Grieux
Umberto GIORDANO (1867-1948)

L’Arlésienne – E la solita storia
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868)

The Barber of Seville – Ecco ridente
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)

Agnus Dei
César FRANCK (1822-1890)

Panis Angelicus

Marinela CHAPI (1851-1909)

La bruja – Jota
Rafael CALLEJA (1878-1938)

Emigrantes - Granadinas
Tito Schipa (tenor)
Unidentified accompanists
Recorded 1916-1921
MALIBRAN MR 551 [76.35]



Schipa’s early recordings have been covered fairly well over the last few years but Malibran concentrates on three sets of sessions made for Pathé – Milan in 1916 and 1919 and New York in 1921. He was at his most commanding and declamatory in these early sides and Pathé recorded him with fidelity and immediacy; whereas the accompaniments tend to be submerged, the voice rings out bell-like and true – not so good for matters of balance but fine for Schipa lovers. This is quite apparent as early as O dolce mani from Tosca where we hear lyric generosity and ease of production, even if he’s rather too fussy over consonants and rolls his Rs unmercifully. It’s not a big voice and it wasn’t even then but it’s effortlessly deployed across the range – there’s no forcing at the top of the tessitura in such as Amaro sol for instance – but it’s undeniably tasteful and virile (Schipa was always virile but not always later on unimpeachably tasteful). Might one think part of the voice monochromatic? Maybe so, but it would be a hard judge who marked him down for it. His Questo o quella is brilliant but not macho-brilliant – there’s little strutting or bantam tenor about Schipa, thank goodness, because here’s a tenor who can turn on the delicacy with perfect poise. Try Ecco ridente and hear his refinement and also, concomitantly perhaps, less of a sheerly virtuosic rendition. Schipa here, early in his career, seems to have something in reserve and those used to more flamboyant fare from lesser artists may find him wanting.

Yes, there are a few frailties. I happen to find his Bizet rather strenuous and his Franck not quite in the elite class but the cod Spanishry of the Calleja (is it cod? Maybe it’s not but it sounds it now) is finely dispatched. The New York sessions of 1921 predate the famous 1922-25 sessions that have been well covered of late, not least by Malibran, but they give us the voice is fine estate and also the unlikely sounding novelty of Schipa’s rendition of Tate’s Somewhere a voice is calling; his English is better than Caruso’s and he is splendidly noble and forthright.

There are no notes but you get 25 tracks and almost full playing time. Transfers are good without being outstanding.

Jonathan Woolf


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