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Toti Dal Monte - A Tribute

Mozart / Toti Dal Monte
Release Date: 07/30/2013 
Label:  Newton Classics   Catalog #: 8802170   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus MozartGioachino RossiniVincenzo BelliniGaetano Donizetti,   ... 
Performer:  Toti Dal MonteAugusto BeufTito SchipaBeniamino Gigli
Number of Discs: 3 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

TOTI DAL MONTE: A Tribute Toti Dal Monte (sop); various artists NEWTON 8802170 (3 CDs: 167:33)


Arias and songs by: ROSSINI, DONIZETTI, BELLINI, VERDI, MOZART, PUCCINI, MASCAGNI, BIZET, FABRIS, FILIPPI, PONCE, BROGI, WILLIAMS, JAMES, BISHOP, BENEDICT, BONAGURA, SADERO


Richard Aldington wrote several bitterly cynical novels about World War I that deserve to be read today. They’re considerably better than the average for this sort of thing, but my point in raising Read more them is one among several phrases of his that have stuck in my mind over the years, and bears noting here: “A nightingale totidalmonted in the distance.”


Yet despite its cleverness and beauty (the vowels really do suggest a bird) it’s not actually that appropriate. Toti Dal Monte (1893–1975) was not just a nightingale, if by this we mean an angelic-sounding soprano who summons up all that’s pure and agile in a summer night’s birdsong. Her gifts were more substantial. The voice had a characteristically unshaded brightness and easy facility, but she was capable of doing a lot more with it than some Olympia-like doll. Even the sometimes pushed tempo of her 1929 “Io son Titania” shows her able to soften to good effect; and her 1941 death scene from Madama Butterfly does so much more. There’s the pressing forward of “Amore, amore mio,” and the collapse already foreshadowed in “ai dì maturi” that finds its natural conclusion on the cadence phrase, “il materno abbandano.” “Fiso di tua madre la faccia” sounds hard, with open vowels, as indeed it should, for this is not meant to be a study of luscious tone, but the death scene of a girl child who has become through time and tragedy a woman of moral stature. We can take this one step further, however with the recitative-like textures of “Flammen, perdonmani” from Mascagni’s neglected Lodoletta . Here the music is completely the servant of the text. Dal Monte is so full of changing face, moment to moment, that an entire range of expression parades before the inner eye, for which a libretto would be useful but hardly necessary.


Indeed, one item in her recording list where a nightingale sound might be expected to prove most successful, Nanetta’s song from Falstaff , finds her lacking in both the vocal velvet and delicacy of expression required to make it work. Something must be allowed for the vagaries of the engineering session, the singer’s health at that given moment, the company’s schedule that allowed for re-recordings, or didn’t; but it also has to be said that Dal Monte simply lacked the vocal warmth for that side of the role before the microphone (though she could have managed the sportive aspect of the duets with Fenton well enough). For the rest, it simply doesn’t show her at her best. There have been many worse, but many better as well.


Contemporary critics were apt to love everything Dal Monte did, on stage and on record. Many modern reviewers by contrast sternly fault her for singing roles outside her Fach , and they aren’t alone in this. The memoirs of Gigli, written in the 1950s, note that Dal Monte’s impresarios pushed her as a coloratura, whereas he thought from the first (so he claims) that she was a lyric, and should have stuck with that. Compare this, if you have the records, to the great Russo-Soviet soprano, Antonina Nezhdanova, who recorded and sang several coloratura arias to magnificent effect in the first decade of the 20th century, but then wisely left the stratospheric roles and concentrated on the lyric repertoire, prolonging her voice.


But this ignores a point Magda Olivero once made. (Via translation; she’d popped up once during the years I was running on opera program in Dallas on the arm of Angela Bruscantini, the fluently English-speaking wife of baritone Sesto Bruscantini.) According to her, the 20th century belonged to the opera house manager, who created a production line in Italy that would have drawn the envy of Henry Ford. Singers were fed into it constantly, every night and for many matinees every week. You were urged to sing whatever role was handed to you for your public who loved you, with the unstated threat that your career would suffer if you didn’t do exactly as suggested. To return to Dal Monte, those impresarios weren’t pushing her into singing roles for a different kind of voice. They were simply pushing her into singing more , any opera that was popular and she could manage today, regardless of whether it left wear on the voice that would come with a stiff reckoning tomorrow.


Yet what matters in the end is not why Dal Monte’s top sounds effortful at times, and why her voice was showing signs of wear by the 1930s, after all. It is the recording legacy she left us, one at once filled with grace, agility, and charm in her early Il barbiere, La figlia , and La sonnambula , but also with virtues associated with more thoughtful, analytical performers in deeper roles. Her sound is not easily forgotten, but neither is the fine singing actress who possessed it. In reasonably good sound, with light filtering; highly recommended.

FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1.
Le nozze di Figaro, K 492: Crudel, perchè finora by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano), Augusto Beuf (Baritone)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Le nozze di Figaro, K 492: Giunse alfin il momento...Deh vieni, non tardar by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano), Augusto Beuf (Baritone)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria 
3.
Don Giovanni, K 527: Là ci darem la mano by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano), Augusto Beuf (Baritone)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787 
4.
Il barbiere di Siviglia: Una voce poco fa...Io sono dolcile by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
5.
Il barbiere di Siviglia: Dunque io son la fortunata by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Italy 
6.
Guillaume Tell: Sombre forêt by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
7.
Norma: Casta diva by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; Italy 
8.
La sonnambula: Ah, non credea mirarti by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; Italy 
9.
La sonnambula: Prendi, l'anell' ti dono by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; Italy 
10.
Lucia di Lammermoor: Regnava nel silenzio by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Italy 
11.
Linda di Chamounix: O luce di quest' anima by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Italy 
12.
La fille du régiment: Lo dice ognun by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Italy 
13.
Don Pasquale: Tornami a dir by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano), Tito Schipa (Tenor)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843; Italy 
14.
Lucia di Lammermoor: Ardon gl'incensi "Mad Scene" by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Italy 
15.
La fille du régiment: Le ricchezze ed il grado by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Italy 
16.
Rigoletto: Caro nome by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; Italy 
17.
Rigoletto: Lassù in cielo by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; Italy 
18.
La traviata: Ah, fors' è lui by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Italy 
19.
Falstaff: Sul fil d'un soffio etesio by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
20.
Les Pêcheurs de Perles: Brahma, divin Brahma by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; France 
21.
Les pêcheurs de perles: Siccome un di caduto il sole by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
22.
Mignon: Je suis Titania la blonde by Ambroise Thomas
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1866; France 
23.
Lodoletta: Flammen, perdonami by Pietro Mascagni
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1917; Italy 
24.
Madama Butterfly: Viene la sera...Bimba dagli occhi pieni by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano), Beniamino Gigli (Tenor)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
25.
Madama Butterfly: Un bel di by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904 
26.
Madama Butterfly: Gattiamo a mani piene by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
27.
Madama Butterfly: Tu, tu, piccolo iddio [Death of Butterfly] by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
28.
A Rosina by Ausonio de Lorenzi-Fabris
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
29.
Magari by Filippo Filippi
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
30.
Estrellita by Manuel Ponce
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912; Mexico 
31.
Le lucciole by Renato Brogi
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
32.
Vidalita by Alberto Williams
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
33.
Maori Lullaby by William Garnet James
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Australia 
34.
Comedy of errors: Lo, here the gentle lark by Henry Bishop
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1819; England 
35.
Variations de concert sur le Carnaval de Venise by Julius Benedict
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1865; England 
36.
Ninna Nonna by Santiago Cittadini
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
37.
Redentor in famegia by Guido Bianchini
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
38.
Si dondola by Enzo Bonagura
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
39.
Fa la nanna bambino by Geni Sadero
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Italy 
40.
La barcarola della Marangona by Geni Sadero
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Italy 
41.
Amuri, amuri by Geni Sadero
Performer:  Toti Dal Monte (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Italy 

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