Arias from The Barber of Seville, La Sonnambula, I Puritani, L'Elisir d'Amore, Don Pasquale, Mireille, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Lucia di Lammermoor, Linda di Chamounix, Dinorah, Lakmé and La Traviata; music of Ardidi, Proch, Chapi and Dufau
Maria Galvany, soprano; unidentified orch/cond.
PREISER 89578 (F) (ADD) TT: 74:58

Arias from The Barber of Seville, Rigoletto, Simon Boccanegra, Don Carlo, Aida, La Gioconda, La Bohéme, and Mefistofele
Giulio Neri, bass; orchestras conducted by Arturo Basile, Angelo Questa, Antonino Votto, Fernando Previtali, Vittorio Gui and Franco Capuana
PREISER 89580 (F) (ADD) TT: 78:17

Spanish soprano Maria Galvany, born in Granada November 2, 1878, had a strange and rather mysterious career. She made her debut when only 18 in Cartagena singing Lucia di Lammermoor, and became well known in Spain, mostly in smaller opera houses. Notes accompanying this CD state she never sang at La Scala, but Rimens' Concise Biographical Dictionary of Singers states that she did. At times she had her own opera troupe with which she toured extensively in Holland, Belgium and France. Galvany also sang in South America and was a special favorite in Russia. However, after World War I she seemed to disappear but eventualy turned up in San Francisco where she appeared in vaudeville. Later she moved to Rio de Janeiro where she taught until her death in a charity hospital November 2, 1949. Galvary was considered important enough to be included in The Golden Age of Singing. She possessed an extraordinary voice that didn't seem to record too well; on these acoustic recordings made from 1906-1908 she sometimes sounds quite thin—but there is no question of her virtuoso technique and stunning ability in high staccato filigree. CD notes rightfully state that not even Luisa Tetrazzini was her equal in this rapid-fire soprano writing which can be heard often on this CD, particularly in Proch's Variazioni. On three selections she is accompanied by tenor Aristodemo Giorgini, and one each by tenor Fernando de Lucia and bass Andres Perello de Segurola. CD notes are limited. As usual with Preiser the transfers are excellent.

Gulio Neri was born in Italy in 1909. After initial studies in Rome he made his debut in 1935 and eventually became one of the most celebrated Italian basses of his time singing at La Scala, Rome, Venice, Florence, Covent Garden, the Munich State Opera, Teatro Colón and the Rio de Janeira Opera. He died of a heart attack in 1958 when about to leave Rome for an appearance in London. Neri had a huge repertory of serious and buffo roles but began his recording career rather late possibly because of the fame of other basses of the era including Tancredi Pasero, Luciao Neroni, Boris Christoff, Nicola Rossi Lemini, Raphael Arié and Cesare Siepi. Neri did record complete versions of Aida, Don Carlo and Mefistofele as well appearing in the famous 1952 recording of La Gioconda that featured Maria Callas. His artistry can be heard on a variety of roles on this CD including two from the Cetra La Gioconda and six excerpts from one of his most famous roles, Mefistofele, also recorded in 1952. Again documentation is minimal, transfers very natural in sound.

Both of these CDs will interest the serious vocal collector, as these artists are minimally represented in the CD catalog.

R.E.B. (January 2004)