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Martti Talvela

Biography

Martti Talvela had a Wagnerian bass voice of uncommon power and richness. He was noted for his expressive legato singing, and exceptional focus of tone. He also dominated the operatic stage by his sheer size: He was an immense man, standing six foot eight and weighing around 300 pounds. This suited him well for the most commanding roles in opera, such as Fasolt the Giant in Wagner's Das Rheingold and Hagen in Götterdämmerung, Mussorgsky's Boris Read more Godunov, Sarastro in Mozart's The Magic Flute, Verdi's Grand Inquisitor, and a role that was written for him, the revivalist preacher Paavo Ruotsalainen in Kokkonen's The Last Temptations.

He began his adult life as a schoolteacher, but pursued vocal studies. After his Stockholm operatic debut (as Sparafucile in Verdi's Rigoletto) he soon found himself in demand, singing all the Wagnerian bass roles, several Russian operas, and many Verdi parts. He also pursued a career as a recitalist, and was the greatest male champion of the songs of his countrymen Sibelius and Kilpinen. He regarded the condition of being granted artistic talent as carrying with it a God-given responsibility. In 1972, he accepted an invitation to become Artistic Director of the Savonlinna Opera Festival. This yearly event, little-known then outside Finland, had been revived in 1967 after a festival that had been run by the great Finnish soprano Aïno Ackté from 1912 to 1930. Talvela immediately transformed it into one of the top international music festivals, in which operas are staged in the impressive courtyard of the St. Olaf's Castle (or Olavonlinna).

Health problems forced Talvela's retirement from Savonlinna in 1979; he had been diagnosed with diabetes, and he had other dangers to his health due to his weight. He restricted his operatic repertory to ten roles, cut back on his lucrative employment in that field, but expanded his schedule of recitals on the grounds that these were better "to bring my message." His sense of the artist's divine mission to bring something to the world was expressed in a 1986 interview. He accepted an appointment to become director of the Finnish National Opera commencing in 1992. But he was stricken with a heart attack and dropped dead while dancing at the party after his daughter's wedding on July 22, 1989, a shocking and regretted sudden deaths in operatic history. He left behind a rich legacy of recordings, including video productions, of many of his great roles. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 97 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Decca - Vienna Philharmonic - The Orchestral Edition
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002227902 Release Date: 12/09/2014   Number of Discs: 65
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Tom Krause,  Werner Krenn,  Elly Ameling,  Werner Tripp  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux,  Herbert von Karajan,  Karl Münchinger,  Leonard Bernstein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Singverein  ... 
    On sale! $199.98
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  • 2.
    The Originals - Legendary Recordings from DG
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002171502 Release Date: 10/27/2014   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Pierre Fournier,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  David Oistrakh,  Sir Eugene Goossens,  Franz Konwitschny,  Carlos Kleiber  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Dresden Staatskapelle  ... 
    On sale! $159.98
    CD: $111.99
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  • 3.
    The Verdi Tenor / Carlo Bergonzi
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002089202 Release Date: 08/12/2014   Number of Discs: 17
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Francesco Cilèa,  Umberto Giordano,  Giacomo Meyerbeer  ... 
    Performer:  Giulietta Simionato,  Cornell MacNeil,  Carlo Bergonzi,  Piero de Palma  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Sir Georg Solti,  John Pritchard,  Rafael Kubelik  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Friends of Music Society,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Chorus  ... 
    CD: $76.99
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  • 4.
    Verdi: Rigoletto; La Traviata; Un Ballo En Maschera; Don Carlo; Falstaff
    Label: Bravissimo Opera Library   Catalog: 9922 Release Date: 07/08/2014   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Rita Bezzi,  Arturo La Porta,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Renata Scotto  ... 
    Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Nino Verchi,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Horst Stein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Florence Teatro Comunale Orchestra,  Florence Teatro Comunale Chorus,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra  ... 
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  • 5.
    Luciano Pavarotti Edition 1 - The First Decade
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002051802 Release Date: 05/19/2014   Number of Discs: 28
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Josephine Veasey,  Cornelius Opthof  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Bonynge,  Lamberto Gardelli,  Zubin Mehta,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Ambrosian Chorus,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $175.49
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  • 6.
    Mahler: Symphony No 8 / Solti, Chicago [Blu-ray Audio]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001993346 Release Date: 02/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Heather Harper,  Arleen Augér,  Yvonne Minton,  Helen Watts  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Singverein,  Vienna Boys' Choir  ... 
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    On sale! $19.98
    Blu-ray Audio: $17.99
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  • 7.
    Decca Sound - The Analogue Years
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001934702 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 54
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Anton Bruckner,  Arnold Schoenberg,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Pascal Rogé,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Marilyn Horne,  Luciano Pavarotti  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit,  Sir Georg Solti,  Bernard Haitink,  Horst Stein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $169.98
    CD: $148.49
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  • 8.
    Discover... Beethoven
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001912702 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Arthur Grumiaux,  Henryk Szeryng,  Ingrid Haebler  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink,  Alceo Galliera,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Sir Colin Davis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Beaux Arts Trio
    CD: $8.99
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  • 9.
    Mozart: Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail / Talvela, Donata, Bertini
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 101691 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Barbara Vogel,  Hans Peter Hallwachs,  Zdislawa Donat,  Horst Laubenthal  ... 
    Conductor:  Gary Bertini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus
    DVD: $29.99
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  • 10.
    Sacred Music - Bach, Handel, Beethoven / Klemperer
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 935402 Release Date: 08/20/2013   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Franz Crass,  Agnes Giebel,  Nicolai Gedda,  Dame Janet Baker  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  BBC Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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    On sale! $32.99
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  • 11.
    Voices of Russian Opera
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 280342 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Mikhail Glinka,  Alexander Dargomizhsky,  Alexander Borodin,  Modest Mussorgsky  ... 
    Performer:  Feodor Chaliapin,  Marianne Tcherkasskaya,  Boris Christoff,  Mela Bougarinovitch  ... 
    Conductor:  Max Steimann,  Igor Markevitch,  Georgi Pozemkovsky,  Jerzy Semkow  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra,  Belgrade Opera Chorus  ... 
    CD: $24.99
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  • 12.
    Pavarotti Sings Verdi [3-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001853602 Release Date: 07/09/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Riccardo Cassinelli,  Leo Nucci,  Anthony Rolfe Johnson  ... 
    Conductor:  Lamberto Gardelli,  Sir Georg Solti,  Richard Bonynge,  Peter Maag  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Ambrosian Opera Chorus,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $39.98
    CD: $37.99
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  • 13.
    Wagner: Lohengrin / Bohm, Watson, Thomas, Ludwig, Wachter
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 862133 Release Date: 06/25/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Claire Watson,  Martti Talvela,  Christa Ludwig,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Opera Orchestra,  Vienna Opera Chorus
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    CD: $54.49
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  • 14.
    Wagner: Das Rheingold / Bohm, Windgassen, Adam
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001820702 Release Date: 04/09/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Theo Adam,  Gustav Neidlinger,  Annelies Burmeister  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
    On sale! $19.98
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  • 15.
    Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov / Semkow, Talvela, Gedda, Mroz
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 397042 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky
    Performer:  Kazmierz Pustelak,  Paulos Raptis,  Kazimierz Sergiel,  Bozena Kinasz  ... 
    Conductor:  Jerzy Semkow
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cracow Polish Radio/TV Symphony Orchestra,  Cracow Polish Radio/TV Chorus
    CD: $24.99
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  • 16.
    Verdi: The Complete Works
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001806202 Release Date: 03/05/2013   Number of Discs: 75
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Maria Guleghina,  Samuel Ramey,  Violeta Urmana,  Sara Fulgoni  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Lamberto Gardelli,  James Levine,  Richard Bonynge  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  London Voices,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $236.99
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  • 17.
    Deutsche Oper Berlin - 100 Years 1912-2012
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 107522 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Domenico Cimarosa
    Performer:  Erika Köth,  Walter Berry,  Pilar Lorengar,  Donald Grobe  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay,  Giuseppe Patané,  Arthur Rother,  Wolfgang Sawallisch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
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    DVD: $98.99
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  • 18.
    Wagner - The Great Operas [36-CD Set]
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 973359 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 36
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Peter Schreier,  Siv Wennberg,  René Kollo,  Janis Martin  ... 
    Conductor:  Heinrich Hollreiser,  Otto Klemperer,  Bernard Haitink,  Rudolf Kempe  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Radio Chorus,  Dresden Staatskapelle,  Dresden State Opera Chorus  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $120.98
    CD: $92.99
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  • 19.
    Solti Conducts The Mozart Operas [15-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001745402 Release Date: 10/16/2012   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Tom Krause,  Arthur Davies,  Gabriel Bacquier,  Pilar Lorengar  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus,  London Opera Chorus  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $89.98
    CD: $77.99
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  • 20.
    Solti Conducts The Verdi Operas [16-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001746202 Release Date: 10/16/2012   Number of Discs: 16
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Jon Vickers,  Robert Merrill,  Rita Gorr,  Leontyne Price  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Chorus  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $99.98
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  • 21.
    Solti Conducts The Wagner Operas [36-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001746302 Release Date: 10/16/2012   Number of Discs: 36
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  René Kollo,  Werner Krenn,  Isola Jones,  Janis Martin  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 22.
    Mozart: Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail / Solti, Gruberova
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001726802 Release Date: 09/11/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Edita Gruberova,  Martti Talvela,  Gösta Winbergh,  Kathleen Battle  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
    CD: $18.99
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  • 23.
    Mozart At Salzburg Festival - Le Nozze Di Figaro, Die Zauberflote, La Clemenza Di Tito
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 107521 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Elina Garanca,  Michael Schade,  Barbara Bonney,  Vesselina Kasarova  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  James Levine,  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
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    DVD: $58.99
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  • 24.
    Verdi: Don Carlos / King, Lorengar, Fischer-Dieskau, Sawallisch
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 101621 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Pilar Lorengar,  Martti Talvela,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Patricia Johnson  ... 
    Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
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  • 25.
    Magnificat - 500 Years Of Choral Masterworks [50-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001664502 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Gregorio Allegri,  Antonio Lotti,  Orlando de Lassus,  Josquin Des Préz  ... 
    Performer:  Patrick Russill,  Marinella Pennicchi,  Michael Chance,  Mark Tucker  ... 
    Conductor:  Harry Christophers,  Paul McCreesh,  Stephen Cleobury,  Edward Wickham  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen,  Gabrieli Consort,  Gabrieli Players  ... 
    CD: $179.99
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