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Hommage A Bidu Sayao, Vol. 3


Release Date: 05/01/2010 
Label:  Cembal D'amour   Catalog #: 150   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Giuseppe VerdiGiacomo PucciniMarxSandoval,   ... 
Performer:  Bidu SayaoGiuseppe Valdengo
Conductor:  Donald VoorheesHeitor Villa-Lobos
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BIDÚ SAYÃO, LYRIC SOPRANO, VOL. 3 Bidú Sayão (sop); Giuseppe Valdengo (bar); various conductors and orchestras CEMBAL D’AMOUR 150, mono (73:07)


Arias, songs and duets by: BLAND, BRAGA, CHOPIN, FONTENAILLES, HAHN, LEHÁR, LONGAS, W. B. MARX, MOZART, OBRADORS, PUCCINI, SALTA, SANDOVAL, THOMAS, TRADITIONAL, VERDI, VILLA-LOBOS, YOUNG


This strange little CD, issued by a company unknown to me (and without any address or country Read more of origin on the booklet or jewel box insert), is Vol. 3 in an apparent series devoted to the Brazilian soubrette Bidú Sayão (1902–99). Once a major name in opera, particularly at the Metropolitan, Sayão has since fallen into that chasm reserved for die-hard collectors of vocal historia, though a number of musicians still greatly respect her fabled Columbia recording of Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas Brasileiras No. 2. Possibly because of this, there are no translations in the skimpy booklet, not even for the most obscure of these songs, and the liner notes are highly informative but also sycophantic.


Sayão had an exquisitely beautiful and well-trained light voice with what I describe as a mother-of-pearl quality. Though she began vocal studies at age 13, she got a late start to her career, spending many years perfecting her voice with such teachers as Elena Theodorini, Jean de Reszke (who must have taught thousands but only produced about a dozen singers of note), Luigi Ricci, and Rosina Storchio. Sayão debuted in 1926 as Rosina in Il Barbieri di Siviglia. In her first recordings from the early 1930s she attempted to sing in the high coloratura range, but those high Es and Fs were never truly secure, so she fell back to the soubrette repertoire. Arturo Toscanini gave her a major boost when he hired her to sing Debussy’s La Damoiselle élue with the New York Philharmonic in 1936. In 1937 she made her Met debut as Manon in Massenet’s opera. Over the next 15 years she sang 226 performances at the Met, but only in 12 roles, of which her most famous were Manon, Mimi, Zerlina, and Juliette. She continued to sing in concert until 1957, and sang for the last time—as a favor to Villa-Lobos—in his 1959 recording of Forest of the Amazon.


As I said, Sayão had an exquisitely beautiful voice, but one reason she’s not well thought of today is because, during her Met career, she often distorted and distended the musical line, dragging out floated notes (both in mid and high ranges) and inserting little squeals in the vocal line to accent her cuteness. Her worst performance to be preserved is the 1942 Don Giovanni with Pinza, Kipnis, and Bruno Walter, which for some unknown reason is highly prized by collectors even though it bears as much resemblance to Mozartian style as a performance of The Merry Widow. Here, in these live radio broadcasts conducted by the vastly underrated Donald Voorhees, she keeps her sobs and breaks of the vocal line to a minimum. They are particularly noticeable in the Butterfly, Mignon, and Merry Widow arias. In most of the other material, however, Sayão sings much more cleanly than was her wont in live performance, with excellent results. Particularly fine are the two duets with baritone Giuseppe Valdengo, the Chopin, Hahn, Marx, Longas, Sandoval, and Obradors songs, and of course the Villa-Lobos excerpts conducted by the composer.


The sound quality of the CD varies from track to track. Although I am a strong proponent of noise removal in archive recordings, Cembal d’Amour did not compensate for the noise removal by boosting treble to restore brightness. As a result, many of the broadcast transcripts have a dull, flat sound, with both Sayão’s voice and the strings sounding muffled and unrealistic. Only with the Chopin-Sandoval Volla farfalletta do we first hear the wonderful pearly quality of her timbre. A few of the later songs as well as the 1959 Villa-Lobos excerpts bring out her voice much better. The latter was recorded in a very odd stereo acoustic and issued in the U.S. on the United Artists label, but because of the exotic nature of the music, it works. One of the songs, “Os Indios á prucura del Moç,” is purposely recorded in a very reverberant soundspace which gives an unearthly quality to her voice.


I recommend this CD with the above reservations, and am hopeful there will be some musician-collectors who buy it to hear an exquisite voice used in a mostly musical fashion throughout a program of widely varied pieces. If for no other reason, her interpretations of the French and Brazilian songs are extremely fine and worthy of serious study.


FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

1. Rigoletto: Tutte le feste al tempio by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Bidu Sayao (), Giuseppe Valdengo ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; Italy 
Date of Recording: 02/26/1951 
Length: 7 Minutes 3 Secs. 
2. La traviata: Addio del passato by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Italy 
Date of Recording: 10/31/1949 
Length: 3 Minutes 57 Secs. 
3. Madama Butterfly: Un bel dì vedremo by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Date of Recording: 11/17/1952 
Length: 4 Minutes 15 Secs. 
4. Tristesse (Sadness) (after Chopin's Etude in E Major, Op. 10, No. 3), for voice & orchestra by Marx
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Date of Recording: 06/07/1954 
Length: 4 Minutes 16 Secs. 
5. Volla Farfallata (Little Butterfly) (after Chopin's Etude in G flat Major, Op. 25, No. 9), for voice by Sandoval
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Date of Recording: 04/20/1946 
Length: 1 Minutes 23 Secs. 
6. Maman, dites-moi, French folk song by Traditional
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Period: Renaissance 
Date of Recording: 06/01/1953 
Length: 2 Minutes 57 Secs. 
7. Obstination by H. de Fontenailles
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Date of Recording: 03/24/1952 
Length: 2 Minutes 3 Secs. 
8. Senhorinha Brasiliera (A Brazilian Lady), for voice & orchestra by Marx
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Date of Recording: 03/24/1952 
Length: 1 Minutes 58 Secs. 
9. Floresta do Amazonas, W 551: Cair de tarde by Heitor Villa-Lobos
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Heitor Villa-Lobos
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1958; Brazil 
Date of Recording: 1959 
Length: 4 Minutes 10 Secs. 
10. Floresta do Amazonas, W 551: Veleiros by Heitor Villa-Lobos
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Heitor Villa-Lobos
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1958; Brazil 
Date of Recording: 1959 
Length: 2 Minutes 13 Secs. 
11. Floresta do Amazonas, W 551: Tarde azul by Heitor Villa-Lobos
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Heitor Villa-Lobos
Period: Modern 
Written: 1958 
Date of Recording: 1959 
Length: 4 Minutes 45 Secs. 
12. Floresta do Amazonas, W 551: Os Indios á Procura del Moç by Heitor Villa-Lobos
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Heitor Villa-Lobos
Period: Modern 
Written: 1958 
Date of Recording: 1959 
Length: 1 Minutes 28 Secs. 
13. Floresta do Amazonas, W 551: Cançao do amor by Heitor Villa-Lobos
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Heitor Villa-Lobos
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1958; Brazil 
Date of Recording: 1959 
Length: 4 Minutes 4 Secs. 
14. El Piropo (The Amorous Compliment), for voice & orchestra by Federico Longas
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Date of Recording: 01/03/1948 
Length: 1 Minutes 25 Secs. 
15. Mi Ranchito (My Little Ranch), for voice & orchestra by Sandoval
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Date of Recording: 06/01/1953 
Length: 2 Minutes 9 Secs. 
16. Eres tu by Sandoval
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Date of Recording: 09/17/1951 
Length: 2 Minutes 48 Secs. 
17. Canciones Clásicas Españolas: Del cabello más sutil by Fernando J. Obradors
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Spain 
Date of Recording: 04/20/1946 
Length: 1 Minutes 40 Secs. 
18. Egenho Novo by Ernani Braga
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Brazil 
Date of Recording: 06/07/1954 
Length: 1 Minutes 33 Secs. 
19. Till the Sandman Comes, for voice & orchestra by Salta
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Date of Recording: 06/01/1953 
Length: 3 Minutes 4 Secs. 
20. Mountain Girl's Lament, for voice & orchestra by Young
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Date of Recording: 01/02/1948 
Length: 2 Minutes 32 Secs. 
21. The Merry Widow: I Love You So by Franz Lehár
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1905; Austria 
Date of Recording: 06/07/1954 
Length: 2 Minutes 27 Secs. 
22. Carry me back to old Virginny by James A. Bland
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; USA 
Date of Recording: 05/23/1949 
Length: 2 Minutes 29 Secs. 
23. Don Giovanni, K 527: Là ci darem la mano by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Bidu Sayao (), Giuseppe Valdengo ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787 
Date of Recording: 02/26/1951 
Length: 2 Minutes 56 Secs. 
24. Mignon: Connais-tu le pays? by Ambroise Thomas
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1866; France 
Date of Recording: 06/01/1953 
Length: 3 Minutes 20 Secs. 
25. Si mes vers avaient des ailes!, for voice & piano (from "Melodies, Book I") by Reynaldo Hahn
Performer:  Bidu Sayao ()
Conductor:  Donald Voorhees
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1888; France 
Date of Recording: 05/23/1949 
Length: 2 Minutes 0 Secs. 

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