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Lebendige Vergangenheit - Alessandro Bonci

Artist Alessandro Bonci
Title Lebendige Vergangenheit - Alessandro Bonci
Release Date Friday, September 1, 2006
Genre Classical > Choro
Copyright © Preiser Records
Country AUSTRIA

Promotion Text

Lebendige Vergangenheit

Alessandro Bonei was born in Cesena (Emilia Romagna) on February 1Qth 1870. He came from a humble background and, like bis father, originally was to become a shoemaker. Encouraged by friends to have his vocal talents trained professionally and with financial support of various mentors he was able to study at the Conservatory of Pesaro with Felice Caen and later in Paris with Enrico delle Sedie. The first prize in a singing contest, which he won in 1892, was an engagement as leading tenor in the Choir of the Capella della Santa Casa in Loreto, where he remained until 1896. On June 25th of the same year he made his official debut at the Teatro Regio in Parma as Fenton in the local premiere of "Falstaff'. In 1897, already, he arrived at the Scala of Milan, which saw his debut as Arturo in "I Puritani" with Regina Pinkert, followed by perfor­ mances as Elvino in "La Sonnambula" and the world premiere of Franchetti's opera "Signor de Pourceaugnac". He enjoyed bis first international successes during guest performances in St. Petersburg, Lisboa and Barcelona and had excellent reviews on the occasion of his Covent Garden debut in 1900 as Rodolfo in "La Boheme" (with Nellie Melba). He returned to London regularly until 1908 in "11 Barbiere di Siviglia", "Lucia di Lammermoor", "I Pescatori di Perle" and "Rigoletto" (with Maria Sammarco). At the Teatro Costanzi in Rome he was a guest in 1901/02 singing the Duke in "Rigoletto", Gennaro in "Lucrezia Borgia" and, again, Rodolfo. The following years were filled with performances in Vienna, Berlin, Prague and Monte Carlo (as Faust) and an Australian tour in 1905/06. Oscar Hammerstein, then building up an ensemble for his newly found Manhattan Opera and in search for >tenor to challenge Caruso at the MET, heard about Bonci's fantastic reputation, which had preceded him from Europe, and hurried to secure his services. The competition between the two tenors in the United States for a large part derived from various press-campaigns, which Oscar Hammerstein had launched in the run-up of his big opening night. (One of the most foolish headlines read in fact: "Caruso challenges Bonei into duel !". Although their repertory did not have much in common at that time, not to speak of their totally different vocal "equipment", Alessandro Bonei had to endure constant comparison with Caruso. Whereas both singers had their roots in the "old school", Caruso early on in his career orientated both his repertory and his singing-style towards verismo and heavier roles. Bonci's roles, on the other hand, were essentially those of the belcanto repertoire. Noble singer and incredibly refined stylist, as he was, he was the ideal performer for the works of Bellini and Donizetti, in which he set new standards. Like Fernando de Lueia, who was his senior by ten years, Bonei had devoted himself (both as a singer and as an interpreter) to the values and traditions of the 18th century, which were considered outdated by the supporters of the "nuova scuola". On December 3rd 1906 the opening night of the Manhattan Opera saw Bonei as Arturo in "1 Puritani", his most accomplished role (with Regina Pinkert and Mario Ancona). Other operas he appeared in during this season were "Don Giovanni" (with Mario Ancona/Maurice Renaud and Giannina Russ), "Rigoletto" (with Renaud and Nellie Melba), "Lucia di Lammermoor", "La Boheme" and "Fra Diavolo". This season was to remain his first and only one at the Manhattan Opera. By the end of the season Bonei held a contract with the MET in his hands. The same way Hammerstein continued to tempt Caruso with higher fees (which undoubtedly increased his salaries at the MET), Conried had been able to snatch away Bonei. Hammerstein soon consoled himself with the much more "versatile" Giovanni Zenatello and Heinrich Conried allowed himself the expensive luxury of presenting "the two greatest Italian tenors" at the MET. As the Duke in "Rigoletto" (with Marcella Sembrich) Bonei introduced himself to the MET audience in 1907. Until 1910, when he left the ensemble, he was heard as Don Ottavio (in the famous revival of "Don Giovanni" in 1908 under Gustav Mahler with Emma Earnes, Marcella Sembrich, Johanna Gadski, Antonio Scotti and Fjodor Chaliapin), Almaviva, Wilhelm Meister and Robert in the first American performance of Puccini's "Le Villi" in 1910. After three seasons he left the MET to enjoy great successes is Faust, Don Ottavio and Ernesto in "Don Pasquale" at the Teatro Colon in 1911 and 1914. In Parma he appeared at various gala-performances in order to celebrate Verdi's 1001h birthday in 1913 and little later was heard in guest performances in Madrid and Barcelona. An engagement at the Chicago Opera in 1914 was prevented by the outbreak of War and Bonci's return to Italy, where he volunteered for ltalian Airforce. In 1916 and 1917 he returned to the Scala for performances of "Manon", "La Boheme", "L'Elisir d' Amore" and "Lucrezia Borgia" (which had been revived upon his request with Ester Mazzoleni and Marcel Journet, who gave his Scala-debut). Bonei resumed his career in 1918 at the Teatro Colon and was now celebrated at the Opera of Chicago from 1919 to 1921. In the early Twenties he repeated one of his few ventures into the "heavier" repertoire and once again sang his much acclaimed Riccardö in "Un Ballo in Maschera" at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples and at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome (with Iva Pacetti and Riccardo Stracciari under Tullio Serafin). ...