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Subject: Re: Dimitri Mitropoulos
From: Max Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 20 Nov 2016 07:35:41 -1000
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I realize that my sentence structure made my original point unclear.  I was not at all saying that Mitropoulos lacked commitment to opera.  I was saying that he was tied to Columbia Records and that they had a lukewarm stance on opera and tended not to use Mitropoulos for the few projects they took on, which were mostly joint projects with Philips (also not a big investor in opera).  We're lucky that someone at Columbia took the interest in releasing the "Wozzeck" concert tape.

Fortunately, Tucker was shrewd enough to insist on being able to make recordings with other companies in his Columbia contract.  Once Farrell signed with them in 1958, she was a caged bird.

Back to Vesna's point about conductors, I do tend to talk about them more than some here.  I consider the conductor and orchestra to be the foundation of an opera performance.  I've heard great performances from merely adequate singers and a great conductor (some of the Toscanini broadcast series as prime examples) but I've never heard a truly great performance with great singers and a poor to merely adequate conductor.  I feel the conductor has to create the shape and framework that makes for a strong statement of the music, but there has to be enough plasticity in that framework to allow the singers room for their individual expressivity.

There are cases where a competent conductor who primarily provides support for the singers can, if the singers themselves bring enough animation and dramatic sensibility, produce a "satisfying" result (I think of much of Erich Leinsdorf's work) that is, at least, free of distortion. But I feel the really overwhelming performance needs a really great conductor.

Max Paley

Sent from my iPad

> On Nov 19, 2016, at 14:38, ANGELO MAMMANO <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> He also seemed to be a rather shy and self-effacing person. I remember when he
> 
> was interviewed on the Edward R. Murrow show he was asked about his busy schedule.
> 
> His answer was that he was not at all busy.  He hadn't conducted opera at the Met in a
> 
> while -not  since a few days ago!  I loved his conducting - the Boris with Tozzi and Hines
> 
> just to name of many.  Tebaldi is reported to have said that with Mitropoulos conducting
> 
> she had to keep at eye on him more so than other conductors - he was impulsive.
> 
> 
> Years ago in Edinburgh I picked up a 4-CD collection of his recordings on the Artone label.
> 
> The Franck d minor is great and the other pieces are all top notch.
> 
> 
> Angelo from Boston
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> November 19, 2016 at 3:04 PM Vesna Danilovic <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
>> 
>>    Hi Bob and list,
>> 
>>    We rarely talk about conductors on this forum, but they give life to these
>>    works (or take it away, e.g., Erede and the likes).
>> 
>>    Wonderful to read these memories of the great Mitropoulos. He was a wizard
>>    in the pit, IMO. Besides the Met, he was also a regular guest conductor at
>>    Salzburg and Florence festivals in the late 50s. Luckily these were
>>    recorded and are the glories of live performances caught on tape.
>> 
>>    I believe that his studio opera recordings were mostly excerpts though,
>>    done for the Metropolitan Opera Club, and this might explain what Max was
>>    suggesting. He was one of the most imaginative opera conductors, but my
>>    sense is that his heart was even more so in the symphonic and concerto
>>    repertoire. Prokofiev's 3rd piano concerto, which he liked to perform as a
>>    conductor and pianist, is said to had been his favorite. He also championed
>>    Mahler, whose live recordings with NYPO are something special to behold.
>> 
>>    Whatever the reasons for the rarity of his studio opera recordings, we
>>    thankfully have the taped legacy of his live performances. He died before I
>>    was even born but I so much wish I could have witnessed what you and Don
>>    shared with us. Thank you.
>> 
>>    Best, Vesna
>> 
>>    On Sat, Nov 19, 2016 at 11:29 AM, Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> 
>>>> 
>>>        Don and list
>>> 
>>>        I was privileged to see Mitropoulos in four truly memorable
>>>        performances at the Met during the 1959-60 season -
>>> 
>>>        Butterfly with Antonietta Stella, who, after Renata Scotto, was the
>>>        greatest Cio Cio San in my experience. She was beautiful to behold,
>>>        moved with extraordinary grace, and sang with a fullness of tone and
>>>        a top register that were breathtaking. The production had been hers a
>>>        year earlier, and they were a near perfect combination.
>>> 
>>>        Cavalleria with Giulietta Simionato. Among my greatest memories!
>>>        She was defining. Bergonzi was Canio that night.
>>> 
>>>        The premiere of Simon Boccanegra, the evening of Leonard Warren's
>>>        last complete performance. He died later in the week during "La Forza
>>>        del Destino" with Tebaldi. Mitropoulos also conducted Boccanegra
>>>        a month larer when Anselmo Colzani made his memorable Met debut in
>>>        the title role.
>>> 
>>>        All were superb, as much for the music from the pit as from the stage.
>>>        Mitropoulos died in Milan before the year was out. To his memory!
>>> 
>>>        Bob
>>> 
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