Arias from Romeo and Juliette, The Pearl Fishers, May Night, Eugen Onegin, Tosca, Faust, La traviata, Mefistofele, Lohengrin, The Demon, Prince Igor, Sadko, Aleko, Dubrovsky, Carmen, La Boheme, Cavalleria rusticana, Manon Lescaut, Manon, Rusalka (Dargomizhsky) and Les Huguenots
Dmitri Smirnoff, tenor; unidentified orch/cond.
PREISER 89567 (F) (ADD) TT:  76:42

DEBUSSY:  La Demoiselle Elue (with mezzo-soprano Janine Collard).  CHABRIER:  Ode à la Musique. PROCH:  Theme and Variations.  Arias of Chabrier (Le Roi Malgr╚ Lui) (with tenor Jean Mollien), Gounod (Mireille), Thomas (Mignon), Charpentier (Louise) and Bizet (Les P═cheurs de Perles).
Janine Micheau, soprano; Paris Conservatory Orch. cond. by Jean Fournet and Roger D╚sormi╦re; Lamoureux Orch. cond. by Eug╦ne Bigot
PEARL GEM 0186 (F) (ADD) TT:  70:19

Russian tenor Dmitri Smirnoff (1882-1944) made his Bolshoi Theatre debut in 1904 in Glinka's Russlan and Ludmilla (this was conducted by Sergei Rachmaninoff, also was making his Bolshoi debut)  An instant success, he soon sang in leading opera houses in Europe making his Met debut in 1910 in Rigoletto, competing successfully with Caruso. Surprisingly, Smirnoff's Met career lasted only two seasons during which he sang 16 performances (Boh╦me, Rigoletto, Romeo and Juliet, La traviata) as well as appearing in one gala performance and giving three concerts  He also sang with the Boston Opera. It seemes Smirnoff preferred Europe - particularly St. Petersburg and Paris. His active career continued until the early '30s; from 1935-1937 he lived in London where he often appeared on BBC Radio. From 1937-1941 he taught at the Athens Conservatory.  Previous CD issues of Smirnoff's recordings were on the now-defunct Nimbus label so this fine well-filled (76:42) Preiser issue is particularly valuable. At times Smirnoff's voice had  a controlled fast vibrato—and his ability to spin out pianissimo notes above the staff was remarkable—just listen to his aria from Massenet's Manon.  s well as music from familiar operas we are treated to music from operas by Rubinstein, Napravnik and Dargomizhsky.  Most recordings on this CD are sung in Russian with orchestral accompaniment - except for the Romance from Rachmaninoff's Aleko, which is with piano. All of these recordings were made for Gramophone from 1909-1913. Smirnoff's voice was captured quite successfully by the acoustic recording process, and Preiser's transfers are superb.

Janine Micheau (1914-1976) was a major soprano on the French operatic scene for two decades. She had a close association with Darius Milhaud, singing in premieres of Med╚e (1938) and Bolivar (1950), and recorded his Chansons de Ronsard, Fontaines et Sources and Cantate Nuptiale with the composer conducting. Other highlights of her career included Cherubini's Les Deuxs Journ╚es conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham in 1947, the same year she sang in the first French performance of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress. Her best-known recording is Beecham's 1958/9 Carmen in which she sang Micaele; she also made complete recordings of Romeo and Juliette, Manon, Pell╚as and M╚lisande, Les P═cheurs de Perles and Delibes' Le Roi l'a dit. Her bright sound and pin-point accuracy are admirable in these performances recorded 1946-1957.  Roger Beardsley's transfers are excellent.

R.E.B. (May 2003)