These reminisces about Bjoerling are fascinating to me. Unfortunately, I just
became interested in opera shortly after Bjoerling had died. A friend pretty
much interested me in opera because he liked to go to second hand stores and
buy old 78s (he was/is a Caruso fan). For $.10, I bought a 78 of Bjoerling
singing Celeste Aida and Che gelida manina. We had an automatic record player
and if you left the arm (that stabilized the records that were to be dropped)
on the side, the tone arm would return about 2/3 of the way through the
record. In the case of Che gelida manina, right to the start of the beautiful
sweeping melody towards the end and of course the consequent high C. I
listened to this part of the aria over and over and generally drove my family
crazy. This one record is probably more responsible of turning me towards
opera than anything else.
Of course, my first complete opera recording was the Boheme with Bjoerling and
I've purchased it again and again in many forms over the years.
Frank Drake wrote: << I do listen to Melchior, Del Monaco, Domingo,
Pavarotti, Kraus and many others. But Jussi is not someone I need to hear on
a regular basis. >>
I am completely the opposite, I also listen to all of the above tenors - but I
usually have to return to Jussi for his clean and thrilling sound. His voice
seems so right in so many parts to me and I certainly wish that he had
recorded a broader repertoire.
By the way, I was recently fortunate enough to pick up a new Bjoerling CD
called Jussi Bjorling Skansen 1952 (Bluebell ABCD 1001). It contains 5 items
from a recently recovered tape of a Skansen recital: O Paradiso, Cielo e mar,
Trollsjon, Land du valsignade, Nu ar jag pank och fagelfri (Ich hab kein
Geld). It's packaged in a 5" by 8" card with a picture of a girl handing
Jussi some flowers after a concert on the cover. It wasn't bar-coded and the
harried sales person at the store I often shop in gave it to me because it was
on the shelves without a price.