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Subject: Re: The greatest singers who never appeared at the Met
From: Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 8 Oct 2018 10:39:02 -0700

text/plain (114 lines)

Eva Turner is an interesting case.  No one is quite sure why she never sang
at the Met.  She was a friend of Giovanni Martinelli who probably could
have gotten her there.  You have to understand in the mid-late thirties the
Met had on their roster Ponselle, Rethberg, Cigna, Caniglia, Milanov, all
singing her repertoire.  Turandot had not been done since 1930 or 31 with
Jeritza.  They were going to revive it in 1940 with Milanov but by then the
war was raging.  The tenor (Luccioni) was stuck in Europe and the revival
was cancelled.

After the war, she continued at Covent Garden until 1948.  She was then
invited to teach at Oklahoma University where she was on the faculty in
Norman for a number of years. My voice teacher, Jack Harrold knew her well
and relayed to me a very interesting story about her possible return as
Turandot in New York.
She had been approached by Laszlo Halasz at the New York City Opera to sing
Turandot in 1950.  She actually considered it.  Her colleague in Oklahoma,
Joseph Bentonelli worked the store with her.  They both came to the same
conclusion.  That she could sing the role and hit all the notes (she was 58
at the time) was never in doubt.  Turner felt something not quite right in
her voice and Bentonelli heard it - an unsteadyness that she had never
experienced.  Both of them decided that the time had passed and didn't want
her to expose herself in New York to a possibly hostile critical reaction.
Jack had heard her in Oklahoma during faculty recitals and had heard her
teach through the fifties and always said the voice remained in rather
remarkable condition to an advanced age.

The Turandot went on at the New York City Opera but with Croatian soprano
Carla Martinis making her New York/American debut.  Now, that is another
major singer wno never sang at the Met and should have.  She might not have
been the equal of Milanov but she wasn't far off and certainly superior to
Herva Nelli and Delia Rigal who did sing at the Met for a number of years
as back up to Milanov.

As for Milanov, if you listen to the recorded evidence, the Milanov of the
1930's and 40's was a vastly different singer to the Milanov of the 50's
and 60's.  While the voice might have been more dependable later and the
technique more refined, the voice itself was a much more thrilling if
wilder instrument earlier on.  To get her, you have to listen to the best
broadcasts of the late 30's through about 1946.  There was a reason she was
favored by Toscanini and Bruno Walter.

As for Mancini, I agree with you.  Something happened to her however.  She
withdrew rather early.  I think by the time she was forty she was finished
and in her last years might even have sung some mezzo roles.  In her prime,
she was a phenomenal talent, vocally in the same league as Tebaldi and


On Mon, Oct 8, 2018 at 9:49 AM Michael Delos <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Dieskau I believe was in negotiation with the Met but
> wanted a production of Busoni's DOKTOR FAUST, which
> would never have been possible at the conservative 50s/60s
> Met and he never sang there. Another poster cited Souzay,
> and indeed the size of the house defeated his superb
> Count in FIGARO.  Erich Kunz also didn't score as Figaro
> in another season for the same reason. The broadcast
> shows him to be musical and charming and with real
> style, but it just didn't have impact in the cavernous Met.
> Janet Baker was indeed asked but declined to sing at the
> Met. Lubin couldn't honor her contract because of the War.
> Jurinac canceled hers, not liking VANESSA when the score
> arrived. She was approached later in her career, but it
> never worked for her schedule.
> Another omission is Caterina Mancini.  I never have
> understood Milanov.  I gather one had to be there, and
> even then, to put up with erratic passages, interspersed
> with sublime ones, including what I acknowledge was a
> killer pianissimo.  Going solely on the audio across 3 generations,
> give me Mancini!!
> I would also put Eva Turner and Rosa Raisa on the
> list of those who could have and should have appeared
> with the company.  I believe Raisa sang in the auditiorium,
> as did Mary Garden, but only with the visiting Chicago company.
> Back to Turner - how wonderful it would have been if during
> Sutherland's FILLE performances they had rotated the
> star turn of the Duchess of Krackenthorp among several
> revered singers of past generations, giving a Met credit to
> Turner for one. Other candidates for singers who would have
> 'deigned' to appear, given that their  career was long over?
> Another mystifying Met omission not due to WW2 is the
> charming Dorothy Warrenskjold.
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