A voi tutti, salute!
Enzo here, with his weekly "blast-from-the-past" inquiry. This week's topic
is the Italian dramatic soprano, Rita Orlandi-Malaspina. She was born on
December 28, 1937 in Bologna and made her 1963 stage debut at the Teatro
Nuovo, Milan, in the title role of Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco.
Orlandi-Malaspina debuted with La Scala on April 29, 1966 as Leonora in La
Forza del Destino. Her colleagues on that occasion included Luigi Ottolini,
Piero Cappuccilli, Nicola Zaccaria, Bianca Maria Casoni and Renato Capecchi.
The conductor was Gianandrea Gavazzeni.
Orlandi-Malaspina went on to become a regular member of the company,
specializing in the works of Verdi. She appeared in later seasons as the
Trovatore Leonora, the Ballo Amelia, Elisabetta di Valois, Elvira in Ernani
Orlandi-Malaspina made her Met debut on October 17, 1968 as Amelia in Simon
Boccanegra. Her colleagues on that occasion included Cornell Macneil in the
title role, Richard Tucker as Gabriele Adorno, Nicolai Ghiaurov as Fiesco and
Sherrill Milnes as Paolo. The conductor was Francesco Molinari-Pradelli.
Reviewing the performance for the New York Times, Raymond Ericson wrote: "The
Italian soprano has been heard in New York two years ago, in the American
Opera Society's concert version of Rossini's Mose. She was an agreeable
enough singer, well versed in the Verdi style and an appealing if conventional
actress. The voice is rather penetrating, however, lacking a desirable
Orlandi-Malaspina appeared later that season in a single performance of Don
Carlo. The cast included Richard Tucker, Shirley Verrett, Nicolai Ghiaurov,
Robert Merrill and Martti Talvela, Claudio Abbado conducting. What an
embarrassment of riches!
After a long absence, Orlandi-Malaspina was scheduled to return to the Met
during the 1979-80 season in the title role of Aida. In anticipation of the
broadcast performance on December 15, Opera News ran an interview with the
soprano, detailing her career activities since her last appearances at the
Met. However, Orlandi-Malaspina cancelled this engagement and the broadcast
performance was taken by Galina Savova.
In addition to the houses listed above, Orlandi-Malaspina appeared with the
leading opera companies of Buenos Aires, Vienna, Brussels, Rio de Janeiro,
Montreal, Nice, Paris, Toulouse, Hamburg, Munich, Budapest, Bologna, Genoa,
Naples, Palermo, Parma, Rome, Trieste, Turin, Venice, Verona, Barcelona,
London, Miami and Philadelphia. Her repertoire included Maddalena di Coigny,
Suor Angelica, Tosca, Mina in Aroldo, Lucrezia Contarini in I Due Foscari,
Alice Ford, Luisa Miller, Amelia in I Masnadieri, Abigaille, Desdemona, Elena
in I Vespri Siciliani and Elsa.
Orlandi-Malaspina appears to have made no commercial recordings but she can be
heard on several live performance sets, including a 1968 broadcast of Don
Carlo from La Scala on the Europa Musica label. Heard here, the soprano
displays a richly textured, imposing instrument, notable for its cutting
impact in the upper register. More than once, her singing put me in mind of
Gilda Cruz-Romo. Both women possessed voices of the right metal and weight
for the Italian dramatic repertoire. However, neither diva developed the sort
of musical refinement and consistent technical security that would have
elevated their work to the level of a first-class Verdiana.
What does the Opera-L community think of Orlandi-Malaspina? Anyone know about
her current activities, whereabouts? All opinions, positive and negative, are
welcome. Rembrances of "in-house" experiences are particularly encouraged.
My thanks to all in advance. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend!