American baritone Lawrence Tibbett (born November 16, 1896 in Bakersfield, California), son of a sheriff, started his career in operetta. After moving to New York he was hired by the Met where he made his debut in 1924 as the Jesuit Lovitsky in Boris Godunov Tibbett first attracted major attention the following year as Ford in Falstaff, and Valentin in Faust. Tibbett had remarkable charisma and stage presence in a wide variety of roles with a number of premieres including works by American composers: two operas by Deems Taylor, The King's Henchman and Peter Ibbetson, and Louis Gruenberg's The Emperor Jones. He sang in the American premiere of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra in 1932 and was particularly famous for his Italian roles. Tibbett concentrated his performances in New York and San Francisco with minimal appearances in Europe although he gave some concert tours and appeared as a guest in London, Paris, Vienna, Prague, Rome and Naples. Tippett made his Covent Garden debut as Scarpia, also singing Amonasro, Iago and the world premiere of Sir Eugene Goossens' Don Juan de Mañara.
Tibbett also reached new audiences with his films which included The Rogue Song, New Moon and Cuban Love Song. In 1934 he received an honorary doctorate from New York University. After a vocal crisis in 1940, he performed less and made his final Met appearance in 1950 as Prince Ivan in Khovanschina. Always ready for something different, in 1956 he appeared on stage for the last time in the musical comedy Fanny on Broadway, and died July 15, 1960.
On this fine CD we have a wide range of Tibbett's repertory showing his sonorous voice, with its secure range and fearless high register, in prime condition in recordings made from 1928-1939. This CD is particularly welcome as Romophone's CD devoted to the baritone is no longer available, although there are two Nimbus budget-priced releases and a Pearl issue (GEM 0048) which contains a number of the tracks on the Preiser CD plus 5 excerpts from Porgy and Bess recorded in 1935 under Gershwin's supervision.
Leopold Demuth is a name almost totally unknown to today's audiences. From this fine Preiser issue we have the opportunity to hear a major belcanto singer with impeccable technique rightfully described by one critic, because of his "rich, golden baritone timbre," as having a "Rembrandt" voice. Born in Brünn (now Brno, Czech Republic) November 2, 1861, Demuth studied diligently and performed eight years in "apprenticeship" at opera houses in Leipzig and Hamburg. After a guest appearance with the Vienna Court Opera in 1898, his career flourished and he was hailed for his performance in virtually the entire baritone repertory. Demuth sang more than 90 roles specializing in Wagner (excerpts from five Wagner operas are on this CD). In addition to his opera career, the baritone gave many concerts, particularly in Germany and it was at one of these, March 4, 1910, that he died from a heart attack.
Demuth made well over 100 recordings beginning in 1903 in a wide range of repertory as indicated above. His voice recorded very well on these acoustic recordings and it's easy to understand why he was so admired. All of the 1903 recordings heard on this CD are with piano accompaniment prefaced by the baritone announcing, in German, "Gramophone recording." Two recordings made in 1905 (A Masked Ball, Falstaff) are also with piano, but do not have the artist's ID at the beginning. The remainder are with an unidentified orchestra and conductor.
Quality transfers, as usual, from Preiser.