EUGENE CONLEY
Arias from I Puritani, Lucia di Lammermoor, La Favorita, Rigoletto, Marta, Faust, Carmen, L'Africana, La Gioconda, La Bohème, Tosca and Turandot. Songs of Herbert, Cowles, Teschemacher, Westendorff, Conley and Weatherly
Eugene Conley, tenor; with orchestras conducted by Warwick Braithwaite, Alberto Erede and Robert Farnon
PREISER 89574 (F) (ADD) TT: 75:56
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GIOVANNI ZENATELLO (Volume II)
Arias from The Huguenots, Il trovatore, La forza del destino, Otello, Aida, Faust, Carmen, Samson and Delilah, Mefistofele, Andrea Chenier, Pagliacci, Manon Lescaut, La Bohème, Tosca and La Fanciulla del West
Giovanni Zenatello, with unidentified orchestras and conductors
PREISER 89575 (F) (ADD) TT: 78:40
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MAGGIE TEYTE
Music of Purcell, Martini, Grétry, Pergolesi, Berlioz, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Bizet, Chausson, Offenbach, Messsager, Duparc, Szulc, Fontenailles, Fauré, Paladilhe and Hahn
Maggie Teyte, soprano with orchestras conducted by Jean Paul More and Leslie Heward, and pianists Gerald Moore and George Reeves
NAXOS 8.110757-58 (2 CDs) (ADD) TT: 77:48 & 75:39
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Eugene Conley (1908-1981) had the misfortune of competing with other more famous tenors of his time—fellow Americans Richard Tucker and Jan Peerce—as well as European stars including Jussi Bjoerling, Giuseppe di Stefano and Ferruccio Tagliavini. Conley studied in Boston and New York making his debut in Rigoletto with the Slamaggi Opera Company at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. A year later he was hired by the San Carlo Opera Company, later appearing at the Cincinnati Summer Opera and New York City Opera. From 1950 to 1956 he sang at the Met including the premiere of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress in 1953, which he recorded with the composer conducting. In 1960 he became professor of voice at Texas State University returning to private life in 1978 and died in Denton, Texas three years later. Conley, who on the CD cover highly resembles Vincent Price, had a rich, solid voice with ringing top notes. He can be heard in the Preiser reissue (REVIEW) of Gounod's Faust, a fine Met recording in which he is joined by Eleanor Steber and Jerome Hines. The final Schwann Artist lists two other Conley recordings, both live: Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with the NBC Symphony under Toscanini, and Verdi's Rigoletto from a New Orleans performance, both dating from 1952-53. This welcome Preiser issue contains Decca recordings from 1949-1950, arias from 12 operas and 7 light songs including one called Beloved. Conley is listed as the composer—not true, it's Anton Rubinstein's Romance in E Flat, Op. 44 No. 1, in a Hollywood-style arrangement; doubtless the tenor wrote the words. The mono recordings have been transferred very successfully.

After studies in his native Verona, Giovanni Zenatello (1876-1949) made his debut as a baritone in 1899 singing Silvio in Pagliacci. Two years later he became a tenor and made a second debut, this time singing Canio in the same opera. He appeared often at La Scala beginning in 1903 as well as other opera centers of the world, and in the United States at the Manhattan Opera (1907-09), Boston opera (1909-14) and Chicago's Lyric Opera. One of his most famous roles was Otello which he sang in more than five hundred performances at leading opera houses of the world. Zenatello retired from the opera stage in 1934 and with his wife, Spanish contralto Maria Gay, opened a voice studio in New York. The tenor is rather well represented on CD; this is the second volume Preiser has released, containing arias from fifteen operas. Don't expect the finesse of Di Stefano or Bjoerling, but it is easy to understand why Zenatello was so widely acclaimed. It seems his voice didn't record particularly well but we must remember that these are acoustic recordings dating from 1908-11. Very limited program notes from Preiser, even less than for Conley.

British soprano Maggie Teyte (1888-1976) studied briefly at the Royal College of Music in London, then went to Paris where she worked with tenor Jean de Reszke, becoming his most successful pupil. Teyte also studied with Debussy, particularly the role of Melisande—every day over a period of more than five months. She made her concert debut in 1907 in Monte Carlo, her operatic debut in Offenbach's Myriame et Daphne, and her Paris debut the same year in Hillmacher's Circe. She then appeared with the Beecham Opera Company and, in 1911, appeared as Cherubino for her Covent Garden debut. That same year she appeared in America for the first time, in Chicago, again as Cherubino. After her second marriage in March 1921, Teyte retired from the stage for nine years, returning to the Royal Opera House in Hansel and Gretel, Orphée and Madama Butterfly. During the Second World War Teyte stayed in Britain working tirelessly for the war effort. In 1946 she made a highly successful return to the U.S and continued to perform in recitals, giving her final performance in Royal Festival Hall in 1955. The French government honored her with Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur in 1950, and in 1958 she was made a Dame of the British Empire. Teyte's historic 1936 recording of songs of Debussy with pianist Alfred Cortot was a major success in the recording industry; fourteen of these are included on Naxos' fine Vocal Portrait which also includes works of Debussy and Ravel in which she is accompanied by Gerald Moore, along with many other songs of Duparc, Fauré and Hahn. A highlight of this set is the 1948 recording of Ravel's Schéhérazade with the Royal Opera House Orchestra directed by Hugo Rignold. Teyte's voice has a fragility appropriate for the French repertory—I cannot imagine her as Butterfly, which she performed with some frequency. Needless to say, Ward Marston's transfers are superb. No texts, but we do have two pages of program notes by Malcolm Walker along with complete recording information—and keep in mind that here we have two packed CDs with a list price of considerably less than the Conley and Zenatelo single CDs. Again, thank you, Naxos!

R.E.B. (October 2003)