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Hele Traubel

Helen Traubel as Isolde

Our second issue of 2017 (Vo. 62, no 2), to be published just after the end of June, is devoted to the American soprano Helen Traubel. Noted primarily as a Wagnerian, she notched up an amazing series of over 190 performances at the Metropolitan (and its Company) from 1937 to 1953. During this period she sang with all the greats and gleaned superlative reviews. Following a disagreement with Rudolf Bing in 1953 she began a secondary career singing in night clubs and then became a TV and movies celebrity. Her flair for comedy soon found her singing and dancing with the likes of Mel Ferrer, Red Skelton and Jerry Lewis. It was not long before she became something of a household name, even among those who had never seen an opera. She even had an impact on the President of the United States, Harry Truman, who sought her for advice as a vocal teacher for his daughter. Few singers could have boasted a more varied and illustrious career than she.

Thankfully, Traubel recorded extensively, for Columbia and Victor primarily, but well into the LP era too. There is also an extensive non-commercial discography, which also attests to her versatility. The discography has been compiled by our expert discographer David Mason, with help from a number of sources. It is the most complete discography of this great singer extant.

Avelina Carrera

Just the fact that she created Maddalena in Andrea Chénier would ensure Avelina Carrera a place in operatic history. Carrera is our second article in this issue; the biography and discography by our Chilean researcher Juan Dzazópulos. Juan describes a very important career, in which the soprano sang the typical lirico spinto repertoire from 1889 to 1909. She recorded 42 sides for the company, yet only 13 were published, among them arias from Cavalleria Rusticana, Siberia, Lohengrin and Aida. One of the unpublished casualties is her would-be creator record of 'La mamma morta'. Now, we can only speculate as to the reason for so many unpublished items when her published discs show a fine voice with a thrilling upper register.

Our filler articles include a fascinating article about a series of almost unknown transcription discs for the American Forces Radio Services, containing broadcasts of the voices of various singers who were active in the New York area in the 1940s and 50s, several of whom sang at the Met. Some of them never recorded commercially and these are the only examples of their singing. Some are very fine indeed. Your editor was so intrigued by news of the discovery of eleven of these transcriptions by our US subscriber, Frederick Fellers, and the hardly known singers recorded on them, that we collaborated on an article describing their discovery and what the discs contain. We intend to publish a number of them on next year's annual CD and we are sure collectors will find some a revelation.

Alfred Orda was a fine Polish baritone who settled in the UK and boasted a superb baritone voice. A recently discovered archive of the singer's letters reveal why his career was not greater than it was: the man was a very difficult and a somewhat unmanageable force of nature. The article, by Richard Copeman, points to a talent that was never fully realised.The Kirsten Flagstad Museum

Still further articles include one devoted to the Kirsten Flagstad Museum in Hamar, Norway. In addition to our regular record and book reviews this issue is packed with fascinating reading.

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