Lebendige Vergangenheit - Olimpia Boronat

Artist Olimpia Boronat
Title Lebendige Vergangenheit - Olimpia Boronat
Release Date Thursday, August 10, 2006
Genre Classical > Choro
Composers Giuseppe Verdi, Giannelli, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Olimpia Boronat / Alexei Ivanov, Vincenzo Bellini, Alabieff, Charles Gounod, Friedrich von Flotow, Francesco Paolo Tosti, Zardo, Georges Bizet, Gaetano Donizetti
Songwriters Olimpia Boronat, Olimpia Boronat / Alexei Ivanov
Copyright © Preiser Records

Promotion Text

Lebendige Vergangenheit

For many years Olimpia Boronat remained the "woman of mystery" of the HMV and Victor Red Seal catalogues. The careers of Patti, Sembrich and Melba were open books; much was known about Tetrazzini, Eames and Destinn - about Hempel and Farrar. But literally nothing could be ascertained about Boronat except (according to the Victor Company) she was a "European celebrity," and that a few of her records were on the market at $3 apiece. The archives of the Metropolitan, Covent Garden, Milan's La Scala, the Paris Opera and Opera-Comique, and the Court Operas in Berlin and Vienna yielded nothing. However, a full list of her records was to be found in Bauer (with the wrong birth-date: that of her sister, Elena Boronat) and Mr. Fred Gaisberg, director of HMV's early activities, made occasional references to her as a star in the distant Russia of the Tsars. Substantiating the Russian career were personal, ecstatic, but dim reminiscences from the lips of such people as Efrem Zimbalist, Dimitri Dobkin and an elderly relative of Prokofiev - but none of these seemed to know from whence Boronat had originated. This puzzle evolved into a more or less personal search on my part and, in 1949, I was finally able to clear away some of the mists and fogs, after meeting the prima-donna's son, Count Adam Rzewuski, and her daughter, the Baronesse de Montfalcon. Olimpia Boronat was born in Genova, Italy, in 1867, the daughter of an Italian officer who had fought in the army of Garibaldi, and of a Spanish mother. The Boronats were most probably of ancient Spanish origin, like the Borgias before them. As a girl, Olimpia attracted the attention of the Queen Mother of Italy, who sent her, at her own expense, to the Milan conservatory where she studied with Professor Leoni. She emerged with the grand prize - the golden medal. She first began to sing about 1885 and made her formal debut a year or so later either in Genova or Naples. Boronat's early career (like the career of Tetrazzini) is still a matter of some conjecture. lt is known that she sang small roles in Italy during 1887 and then toured Italian cities in a company assembled by Sonzogno. Trips to Spain and Portugal; then to South and Central America (Guatemala City) followed. After a return to Italy in major roles, a season in North Africa (Alexandria) proved the turning-point. On the strength of this, Boronat drifted to Russia in 1890, where she established herself successfully in the august company of Angelo Masini and Battistini. Tamagno and Figner were also there. The presence of Marcella Sembrich in the Russian capital provoked a comparison of the two prima-donnas, during which Boronat more than held her own. It was in December 1892, while singing at a soiree of the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaivitch that Olimpia Boronat met Count Rzewuski, a Polish nobleman of immense fortune. lt was love at first sight. Boronat married the count in 1893 and went to live in Warsaw, later retiring from her brilliant career at his request. The couple produced five children and the countess now only appeared in benefits involving the highest Russian and Polish society in St. Petersburg, Warsaw, and Kiev. Late in 1901 the desire for a return to professional life obsessed the countess and, when her husband gave in, she renewed her career more brilliantly than ever. She sang in Russian and Polish opera houses as a star of the very first magnitude, through 1914, though she never officially retired; her last public appearance was at a benefit in Warsaw during 1922. The famous prima-donna opened a school for advanced singers in the Polish capital; she died there in 1934 of diabetes. Olimpia Boronat died without ever having sung in the United States, England, France, Germany or Austria, which obviously accounts for the lack of information available in what is now known as the Western World. Olimpia Boronat's voice was characteristic of her era and the era that preceded it - a high, brilliant soprano armed with a virtuoso technique. Her assets - for all prima­ donnas of that day had their particular specialties - included a wonderfully luminous pianissimo in the highest register, a remarkable trill, a caressing, even legato, and countless lovely morendo effects. She was a singer made in Heaven for the music of Bellini, Rossini, Donizetti, and the early Verdi. She resisted the "new composers", holding herself aloof from Debussy, Wagner and the Italian verismo, thus preserving the lustrous patina of her voice. Mimi in Puccini's La Boheme was the furthest she ventured into the "new world", and she obtained a great success in this role. But the old bei canto composers were the real friends of an art that found its descendants in such singers as Maria Barrientos and Amelita Galli-Curci. Boronat and Galli-Curci have much in common stylistically, for in those days every real prima-donna sang with a rubato and a freedom that were expected and even encouraged. They were vocal stars and not part of drilled ensemble that produced an amalgam of many arts. Boronat's was not a plushy voice, rather a crystalline one of considerable body. She may not have had the extreme evenness of scales that characterized Melba's ...