Lebendige Vergangenheit - Robert Weede

Artist Robert Weede
Title Lebendige Vergangenheit - Robert Weede
Release Date Sunday, September 10, 2006
Genre Classical > Choro
Composers Ruggiero Leoncavallo, Giuseppe Verdi, Georges Bizet, Charles Gounod
Songwriters Robert Weede, Robert Weede / The Concert Arts Orchestra, The Concert Arts Orchestra / Robert Weede, Licia Albanese / Robert Weede, Robert Weede / Jan Peerce
Copyright © Preiser Records

Promotion Text

Lebendige Vergangenheit

In the Shadow of Tibbett, Warren and Merrill. The American Baritone Robert Weede. Only those who have read the respective artist’s biography will know the names behind the names of Jacob Pincus Perelmuth, Ruben Ticker, Leonard Warenoff, Moishe Millstein, Richard Bunn, Francis Dinhaupt and George Burnson. They are the birth names of individuals who became wellknown and even famous singers under their artist’s names: Jan Peerce, Richard Tucker, Leonard Warren, Robert Merrill, Richard Bonelli, Francesco Valentino and George London. The singer to whom this CD is devoted also made a name for himself under a pseudonym: Robert Weede was born Robert Wiedefeld. The reason behind such “disguises” is almost always that the artists hoped to make a lasting impression with the more mellifluent sound of their newly chosen names and/or were trying to adopt a name better suited to the country in which their careers developed. Thus the American tenor and later general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, Edward Johnson, italianised his name to Edoardo di Giovanni for his stage debut in Padua; the Irish tenor John McCormack made his debut in Savona as Giovanni Foli; and the London-born tenor Bennett Fynn chose Benvenuto Finelli as his new, Italian identity. Robert Weede was born on 11 February (although other sources state 22 May) 1903, in Baltimore, Maryland, into a family of German origin. After receiving initial vocal training at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and under George Castelle in Baltimore, he got his first stage experience with the De Feo Touring Opera Company in 1927. After winning the Caruso Memorial Prize in a competition sponsored by the Caruso Foundation, he was awarded a scholarship that enabled him to continue his studies under Oscar Anselmi in Milan. In 1933 he was hired to sing at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, where Jan Peerce, Bruna Castagna and Anne Roselle were among his colleagues. Until the early 1940s, Weede was frequently heard in the weekly broadcast of NBC’s Music Hall of the Air, often in aria recitals but also in abridged versions of operas. These appearances made him highly popular throughout the country. On 15 May 1937 he sang his debut as Tonio in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci in the Young Singers Spring Season of New York’s Metropolitan Opera, where he remained a member of the ensemble until the 1941- 42 season. Despite an excellent reception by the press and audiences – the Met chronologist Irving Kolodin called it “the most successful Met debut of an American singer in 17 years” – his career got off to a slow start. But this is altogether understandable, given the strength of the baritones against whom the newcomer was competing. At that time the baritones the Met had to offer – and this is only counting those singing Italian and French opera – included the Americans Richard Bonelli and John Charles Thomas, the Australian John Brownlee, the Chilean Carlo Morelli and the Met’s “leading baritone” at the time, the American Lawrence Tibbett, who was a member of the ensemble from 1923 to 1950. Over the next five years they were joined by the Italian Carlo Tagliabue, the Hungarian Sandor Svèd, the American Leonard Warren (at the Met from 1937 to 1960), who also became Tibbett’s legitimate successor – and Francesco Valentino. Only a few years later they were followed by the Frenchman Martial Singher, the Americans Frank Guarrera and Robert Merrill – who was a member of the ensemble from 1945 to 1983 and assumed the position of first Met baritone after Warren’s premature death in 1960 – and the Italians Giuseppe Valdengo, Enzo Mascherini and Paolo Silveri. The final great competitor confronting Robert Weede in 1952, during his last season at the Met, was the Canadian George London. Given this surplus of high-quality baritones it is understandable that Weede’s presence at the Met was largely restricted to occasional performances in its Sunday evening concerts, where he sometimes was allowed to sing a complete act of an opera. Following his debut as Tonio, his next important role came on 27 February 1941, the title role in Verdi’s Rigoletto (with Jussi Björling as the Duke). In 1942 there were several more Rigolettos and Tonios, which Kolodin, who apparently held Weede in high esteem, described as follows: “The Met would have been better served by offering more opportunities to Robert Weede, who sang an excellent Rigoletto.” There was then a break in Weede’s Met career, which he resumed in 1944-45 with more Rigolettos and an Amonasro (Aida). He did not return to the house until 1948-49, “as a powerful Manfredo in Montemezzi’s L’amore dei tre re” (Kolodin). In the following season Weede was a “splendid Shaklovity” in Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina, and according to the wellknown New York music critic Olin Downes, “brought down the house.”. Nevertheless, he did not appear again at the Met until the 1952-53 season: five performances as Scarpia (Tosca) – the last on 17 April 1953 – ended this chapter of his career. His ten seasons at the Met between 1937 and 1953 featured 33 performances in six different roles. Elsewhere his career was considerably more successful. He remained a popular radio soloist, his performances including the première of Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief with the NBC Symphony Orchestra on 22 April 1939. During the Second World War he was a weekly guest on The Celanese Hour, a half-hour radio broadcast that was popular across America. Here Weede and Jan Peerce, occasionally joined by Mario Lanza and Jean Tennyson, performed excerpts from operas and operettas. He also appeared in such broadcasts as The Standard Hour, Mutual Opera Concert and many other radio features. His concerts took him to all the US states as well as Puerto Rico and Latin America. …