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Zinka Milanov (1906-1989) sings Verdi Arias
Details below
RCA Victor Orchestra, Renato Cellini, conductor

Aida - Ritorna vincitor [6:45]
Aida - O patria mia [6:41
Un Ballo in Maschera - Ecco l'orrido ... Ma dall'arido ... Teco io sto [22:45]
with Jan Peerce and Leonard Warren
rec: 21 January 1955
Un Ballo in Maschera - Morrò, ma prima in grazia [4:35]
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Dimitri Mitropoulos, conductor
rec: 9 January 1955
La Forza del Destino - Son giunta! grazie, o Dio ... Madre, pietosa Vergine [6:33]
rec: May 1953
La Forza del Destino - La Vergine degli Angeli [3:25]
rec: 7 April 1955
La Forza del Destino - Pace, pace, mio Dio! [5:32]
rec: May 1953
La Forza del Destino - Io muoio! ... Non imprecare umiliati [8:12]
with Jan Peerce, Leonard Warren and Nicola Moscona
rec: 7 April 1955
Il Trovatore - Tacea la notte placida [5:18]
rec: February 1952
Il Trovatore - Timor di me? ... D'amor sull'ali rosee [5:14]
rec: February 1952
Il Trovatore - Miserere [4:40]
rec: February 1952

These extracts are not to be confused with the complete operatic performances that Zinka Milanov recorded during her career. They are arias recorded between 1952 and 1955 and not compiled from those famed complete sets.

That noted these are passionately convincing performances performed with all her accustomed strength and artistry. The Aida extracts predated the Rome/Perlea recording, with such luminaries as Björling, Warren, Christoff and Barbieri, by a full two years. She is similarly commanding, though this never precluded sensitivity to dynamics – note this often under appreciated facet of her musicianship in O patria mia where the sheer range of voice is impressive. There’s a December 1940 Met performance of Un Ballo in Maschera again with Björling and also with Sved, conducted by Ettore Panizza. These two extracts are both from 1955 and with Nimbus we hear her with Warren and Peerce. The latent power of her singing is obvious but once again its deployment is never self-regarding and always musically sophisticated. Maybe pitch sags too much during the long first extract and her tone tends to the squally from time to time but there are superb compensations nonetheless. One note of caution; Ecco l'orrido ..., Ma dall'arido ... and Teco io sto form this long, single twenty three minute track and it might have been better to sub-divide them into three, tracked separately.

There are four extracts from La Forza and they will assuredly remind admirers of her later, 1959 complete set with Di Stefano, Warren and Previtali conducting. These 1953 and ’55 extracts are no less assured, no less remarkable. Milanov recorded Il Trovatore complete with Björling in 1955. She joins Jan Peerce in the 1952 Miserere. But it’s perhaps Tacea la notte placida that shows her at her best, the coloratura crystal sharp and brilliantly deployed, her theatrical control unimpeachable, the sheer fluency of the singing undeniable. It’s one of the high points of a recital brimming over with such.

The transfers have been well managed and the booklet has some good biographical information, though wildly contradictory dates of birth and death of its heroine.

Jonathan Woolf


see also review by Goran Forsling


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