Lebendige Vergangenheit - Armida Parsi-Pettinella

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Lebendige Vergangenheit

Armida Parsi was born on 30 August 1868 in Gallese near Rome. It is extremely difficult to find information about her. This is especially surprising because - as evidenced by her recordings - she was one of the finest singers under contract to the Fonotipia label and, from a collector's point of view, was certainly one of the most reliable. Nevertheless, her career remained mostly limited to Italy: she was never heard at London's Covent Garden, New York's Metropolitan Opera, the Opera or the Opera Comique in Paris, the Vienna Staatsoper or Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, at least not after 1908. One may well wonder where she sang at all! Parsi made her debut in 1893, and by 1895 she was singing at La Scala, where her first performance was on 26 December 1895 as Anne Boleyn in Henri VIII by Saint-Saens. Felia Litvinne was Catherine d' Aragon and Mario Sammarco was Henri VIII. Parsi sang nine performances that season. Samson et Dalila premiered on 4 January 1896, with Litvinne as Dalila; in the following 12 performances, Parsi and Isabella Gianoli alternated in the role of Dalila. Giovan Battista de Negri was Samson and Giuseppe Pacini sang the role of the High Priest at several performances. The following month, on 18 February, there was a performance of Mascagni's Guglielmo Ratcliff, with Parsi as Margherita singing with De Negri and Pacini. (This, however, was not the world premiere, as reported in several sources; it had occurred one year earlier, on 16 February 1895, with Della Rogers as Margherita.) The final series of performances of the season began on 7 March 1896, with Hamlet by Thomas, featuring Parsi as Gertrude, Giuseppina Huguet as Ophelia and Sammarco in the title role. In 1897-98 Parsi was at the Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos in Lisbon at the same time as the great Mario Ancona. lt is not known what roles she sang there. She must have sung in the Italian provinces after that, but in any case she was then back at La•Scala as Parsi-Pettinella, having married the conductor Pettinella. The first of nine performances of Franchetti's Asrael under Toscanini took place on 28 February 1903, with Parsi-Pettinella singing Lovelta. On 11 March of the same year - in what was the most brilliant cast of her career - she appeared in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera with Oreste Luppi as Samuel, Antonio Magini-Coletti as Renato, Linda Micucci-Betti as Amelia and the great Giovanni Zenatello as Riccardo. Toscanini conducted (this was the famous series of 12 performances, in which Toscanini stormed from the stage on 14 April after the second act because the audience demanded a repeat performance from Zenatello, a11d the conductor refused to comply). lm April 1904 Parsi-Pettinella sang at the Teatro del Opera in Buenos Aires. The performances included Lohengrin in a star-studded cast with Giuseppe Borgatti, Marfa Farnetti, Pasquale Amato and Adamo Didur. On 15 and 18 March 1906 she sang Eboli in Verdi's Don Carlo at the Monte-Carlo Opera. The work was sung in French by Geraldine Farrar, Emilio de Marchi, Maurice Renaud, Feodor Chaliapin, Maximilien-Nicolas Bouvet and Paolo Ananian. Brunetto conducted. On 30 January 1910 she returned to La Scala in what was probably her greatest role, Dalila in Samson et Dalila. Antonio Paoli, Alfredo Brondi and Enrico Moreo were her partners. In the 1910-1911 season she was engaged to sing at the Teatro Regio in Turin, but it is impossible to say what roles she sang there. The cast lists were very short and never included the mezzo-soprano. At this point Armida Parsi-Pettinella vanishes. But it is clear that she was by no means an unimportant singer and artist. She sang entire seasons at La Scala as a member of brilliant casts. She made guest performances at other opera houses, although not at the most important, and she seldom performed in minor roles. Parsi-Pettinella also sang roles in operas that later disappeared from the stage, and thus was clearly open to newer music. At La Scala she competed directly with such singers as Elisa Bruno, Elisa Petri, Maria Gay, Adriana Guerrini, Eleanor de Cisneros, Guerrina Fabbri, Felia Litvinne and Nini Frascani and was apparently up to such competition. It would truly be unfair to classify her as a second­ class singer, and her recordings offer clear evidence of the high esteem that she deserves. She died on 9 January 1949 in Milan at the Casa di Riposa, the home that Verdi founded for retired musicians. Berlin Court Opera that same year. After 1913 she was called Arndt-Ober in Germany, and so it is likely that that was the year when she married her teacher. She became world-famous, how­ ever, under her maiden name. In New York to this day she remains unforgotten as Margarete Ober. For four seasons she was the Met's leading mezzo-soprano, not only in Wagnerian roles, but also as Dalila, Amneris, Azucena, Laura in La Gioconda, Katharine in Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung, Octavian in the first American Rosenkavalier in 1913, and Alisoun in the world premiere of De Koven's The Canterbury Pilgrims in 1917. On 27 April 1917, after the United States had entered World War I, she ended her Met career with a performance of Boris Godunov in Atlanta. Imprudently trusting the American sense of justice, she sued the Met for 50,000 dollars due to breach of contract, but she lost the suit because her "intense hatred of America" was given as the grounds for her dismissal. She was interned, and then in 1919 attempted to organise a German opera season at the Lexington Theater with her former colleagues from the Met. The venture quickly collapsed, and she returned to Germany. In Berlin she resumed her successful career. While theatres were closed for the summer the singer, barely in her 20s, found an area of activity more important to her than an invitation to Bayreuth: in 1922…