Our first issue of 2013 (Volume 58, no. 1) marks our 67th year of publication. Hence, it seems appropriate to celebrate this achievement by dedicating our main article to one of the greats of the "Golden Age". Victor Maurel (1848-1923) was of the first importance, sought by composers to create operas for which his talents as a singing actor would be an enormous asset. He will always be inextricably linked in history to the operas of Giuseppe Verdi as he created the baritone leads in Simon Boccanegra, Otello and Falstaff.
The article has been written by Alfred de Cock, the foremost researcher of French and Belgian singers. Alfred describes how Maurel's voice and histrionic skills made him one of the leading baritones at a time of great singers. However, readers will be surprised to learn also that he was not a particularly sympathetic character: ambitious, pushy and inconsiderate. Verdi, in particular, found him a most difficult colleague and there were several occasions when he seriously considered another singer for his forthcoming premières.
Regrettably, the gramophone came along rather too late to do Maurel full justice. By the time he recorded the voice was well past its prime. Yet, we should be grateful for his records for they demonstrate enough of the qualities that made him unique. Maurel's discography has been compiled by our editor, Larry Lustig, who describes the discovery of a previously unknown take of the baritone's Fonotipia recording of 'Era la notte'. Our definitive study of Victor Maurel is further enhanced by M. de Cock's discussion of Maurel's recordings.
Listen to the voice of Victor Maurel (click the button to hear the sample)
(Excerpt from "Quand'ero paggio" from Falstaff, 1907)
Our second article is devoted to Gösta Björling (1912-1957), the brother of the unique Jussi. Like Jussi, Gösta died tragically young. He was not gifted by nature with a voice as fine as Jussi's but it was a very sweet, light tenor of beautiful quality, and his records make rewarding listening. The article and the discography are by the eminent Swedish researcher Sven-Göran Olve, who shows what an asset Gösta Björling was to the Royal Swedish Opera for so many years. This fine tenor is somewhat neglected by collectors, most likely because of his early death and a career which was largely confined to Sweden. This article will redress this neglect by informing our readers and encouraging them to listen to his recordings.
Listen to the voice of Gösta Björling (click the button to hear the sample)
(excerpt from "I heard you singing" (Coates), 1941)
This issue also contains Michael Aspinall's superb article on the art of Tito Schipa, in which he reconsiders Schipa's place in the history of singing. It is always a great pleasure to present a work by Mr Aspinall, one of the finest writers and researchers on the singing voice.
This will be a very special issue for the admirer of the tenor voice as we also include an article on Giovanni Zenatello, in which the Maltese opera enthusiast Richard England gives hitherto unpublished information on his appearances in the very important operatic centre of Valletta. There is also a commentary by Michael Letchford on the writing of his recently published book on the great Yorkshire tenor Walter Widdop.
In addition, our regular reviews of CDs and books make this March 2013 issue a very full one indeed. We are sure it will be of enormous interest to our readers and a veritable feast for lovers of the tenor voice. It is an issue worthy to commemorate our 67th year of publication.