"The Victor Recordings -- 1914-1925"
Arias from I Pagliacci, La Traviata, La Bohème, Rigoletto, Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Iris, Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Pasquale, Don Giovanni, Il Segreto di Susanna, Cosi fan Tutte, Snegurochka, Roméo et Juliette, L'Amico Fritz, Manon, Lakmé, Carmen, L'Amour Mouillé, La Revoltosa, El Pu–ao de Rosas; music of Rossini, Valverde, Pagans, Yradier, Marshall, Sibella, Moore, Arditi, Granados, Pestalozzi, Delfino and Novello

ROMOPHONE 81016 (2 CDs) (F) (ADD)  TT:  79:29 & 73:08

"The Victor Recordings -- 1925-1937"
Arias from Louise, La Bohème, Les Contes d'Hoffmann, La Traviata, Madama Butterfly, Mignon, Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro, Manon, La Rondine, La Vida Breve, Acis Y Galatea, Amantes Chasqueaos, Don Quijote de la Mancha, L'Amour Mouillé; music of Glazunov, J. Strauss, Valverde, Joves, Schumann, Goring, Arditi, Pestalozza, Götze, Pagans, Goetz, de Falla and Nin

ROMOPHONE 81017 (2 CDs) (F) (ADD) TT:  74:30 & 72:35


Spanish soprano Lucrezia Bori (born in Valencia, Spain, Christmas Eve 1887, Lucrezia Borja Gonzales de Riancho) was one of the most glamorous singers on the international opera scene for well over two decades.  After initial studies in Italy she appeared in smaller opera houses and eventually was offered a contract at La Scala for the 1910-11 season.  Arturo Toscanini arranged for her to sing five performances of Puccini's Manon Lescaut with the Metropolitan Opera during their season in Paris in 1910.  Her success was so great she was offered a Met contract which she could not accept because of her La Scala commitment. In 1911 she sang Octavian in the Milan premiere of Der Rosenkavalier.  Bori's Met debut in New York was opening night of the 1912-13 season in Manon Lescaut with Scotti and Caruso; later that year she sang Gilda, Mimi, Nedda, Norina, Micaela, Antonia in Tales of Hoffman, Fiora in L'amore dei tre re, Lucinda in L'amore medio, Ah-Joe in L'oracolo (the last three American premieres) and one of her finest roles, Mascagni's Iris. She remained at the Met for almost a quarter-century.  In 1915 it was found that she had a node (small growth on the vocal chords) requiring an operation after which for two years she did not raise her voice above a whisper for fear the condition would worsen. The treatment was successful as when her career continued she was again one of the great prima donnas of the Met with guest appearances in leading opera houses and concert tours all over the world.  When she retired in 1936 she was the first woman to serve on the Metropolitan Opera's board of directors and died in New York in 1960.

Bori's technique was secure, her voice rather small and there is no doubt that her beauty and slim figure were a good part of her success.  She was a "class act" you might say. For decades record collectors who had not heard her in person were puzzled why she was considered to be among leading prima donnas of her era.  Ward Marston explains that many of her disks were recorded at a speed slower than the standard 78 rpm, some even as slow as 71.5 rpm, so you can imagine how uncharacteristic of her voice these were when played at the standard speed. Romophone's remasterings are, of course, all at the proper speed, with Marston's usual transfer skill always evident.

Each of these twin-CD sets contains 46 tracks. The first Romophone (81016) contains all of Bori's RCA acoustic disks as well as the first four electrics from 1925. The second set (81017) has all of the Victors from 1925 through 1937.  On these CDs you can hear Bori in some of her most famous roles, particularly Violetta, Mimi, Massenet's Manon, and Cio-cio-san as well as a varied collection of songs.  She is partnered by some of the finest singers of the time: tenors John McCormack, Tito Schipa and Beniamino Gigli, and baritones Giuseppe de Luca and Lawrence Tibbett. Often there are multiple versions of a work, and some have never been issued before. Affectionate CD notes by John Steane and William Ashbrook add to the appeal of this project.

Needless to say ,both of these are highly recommended.

R.E.B. (Oct. 2001)