|Liner Notes: Conchita Supervia (1895-1936) - Opera And Song Recital|
CONCHITA SUPERVIA - MEZZO SOPRANO 1895-1936
Discrepancies surround the exact birthdate of the vibrant, mezzosoprano Conchita Supervia, but the date that has been generally accepted is December 9,1895. She was born in Barcelona and studied at the Colegio de las Damas Negras there. Supervia made her debut on the stage of the Colon Opera House in Buenos Aires when she was less then 15 years old. There are conflicting accounts about what her first role was. A most reliable source suggests that it was in the opera Blanca de Beaulieu by Stiattesi. Supervia sang the minor role of an old woman. It is therefore not surprising that the critics found her voice and her mien inappropriate for such a role. Nevertheless, she made a deep impression on her audience.
Supervia's next appearance came in late 1911 in the Roman premiere of Der Rosenkavalier as Octavian. This performance was of interest especially because Supervia was under 16 when she sang the role of the 17 year old Octavian, probably the only production in history in which this was the case. The cast also included Hariclea Darclee as the Marschallin and Ines-Maria Ferraris as Sophie. One can surmise that Supervia was a successful Ocatavian, for within a year she was singing roles such as Carmen and Dalila. Her voice was indeed exceptional for it enabled her to sing roles that were generally reserved for much more mature singers. In 1914 she sang at the Havana Opera. In 1915 she was asked to open the season at the Liceo in Barcelona as Dalila. On November 18, 1915 she made her debut with the Chicago Opera appearing as Charlotte in Werther; the cast included Muratore in the title role and Dufranne as Albert. Further appearances that season included Mignon with a stellar cast that included Dalmores and Journet.
Her first appearance as Carmen with the Chicago company did not take place until January 1916, for the reigning Carmen of the day, the American superstar Geraldine Farrar, claimed the season's first performances. She would not return to the Chicago Opera until the 1931/32 season, again as Bizet's alluring gypsy, an interpretation which had become legendary. The cast included Rene Maison and the American, John Charles Thomas. In 1926 Supervia began singing Rossini in operas such as L'ltaliana in Algeri. This opera was performed at the inauguration of the Theater of Turin. Supervia also sang La Cenerentola and II Barbiere. She sang Barbiere in the, then, rarely heard original mezzo-soprano version. Supervia was one of the first to achieve prima donna status for the mezzo voice. Supervia went on a tour of Italy and the rest of Europe singing these roles. Her Carmen, mentioned above, was indeed a controversial interpretation, but regarding her Rossini heroines, there were no divided opinions. Her attractive stage personality, mischievous charm and the unique timbre of her voice made her Rossini heroines irresistable In addition to her operatic virtuosity she also had a flair for Spanish art songs and Zarzuelas. In 1931 she married Sir Ben Rubenstein, a British industrialist. Supervia died on March 30, 1936 as a result of complications in childbirth.
Supervia's character and charm were inseparable from her nagnificent voice. Perhaps Desmond Shaw-Taylor describes her most accurately: She was incapable of dullness; even in the most trivial song there will come a phrase so personal and so completely genuine that the listener feels something akin to physical contact. In whatever language she sang she filled each word with meaning, and lent the utmost grace and point to the turn of every musical phrase. Her moods and the color of her tone would change with lightning rapidity; and her sense of rhythm often gave a fascinating outline and precision to passages which seem quite ordinary in the score. No singer has conveyed a more infectious enjoyment of the sheer act of singing.
CONCHITA,SUPERVIA MEZZO SOPRANO 1895 - 1936
1. CARMEN (Bizet): HABANERA (It)
Pari. R 20278 1927
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