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 82 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    The Gundula Janowitz Edition
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797348 Release Date: 07/14/2017   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  George Frideric Handel,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Gundula Janowitz,  Hedwig Bilgram,  Elmar Schloter,  Marga Höffgen  ... 
    Conductor:  Willfried Boettcher,  John Pritchard,  Karl Richter,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Hamburg Telemann-Gesellschaft Orchestra,  Munich Bach Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $75.49
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  • 2.
    Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen / Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797354 Release Date: 07/07/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Oralia Dominguez,  Erwin Wohlfahrt,  Catherine Gayer,  Anna Reynolds  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    On sale! $103.98
    Blu-ray Audio: $98.99
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  • 3.
    Wagner: Tristan und Isolde / Bohm, Nilsson, Bayreuther Festspiele [3CD + Blu-ray]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797291 Release Date: 06/09/2017   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Christa Ludwig,  Birgit Nilsson,  Martti Talvela  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
    CD: $39.99
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  • 4.
    Karl Bohm: Great Recordings 1953-1972
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797021 Release Date: 02/24/2017   Number of Discs: 17
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Max Reger,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Wolfgang Meyer,  Marianna Radev,  Josef Greindl,  Maria Stader  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin St. Hedwig Cathedral Choir,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $63.98
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  • 5.
    Verdi: Rigoletto / Bonynge, Pavarotti, Milnes, Sutherland, LSO [2 CD + Blu-ray Audio]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002588002 Release Date: 01/06/2017   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Martti Talvela,  Sherrill Milnes,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Dame Joan Sutherland
    Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ambrosian Opera Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $44.49
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  • 6.
    Fritz Wunderlich: Complete Studio Recordings on DG
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002565802 Release Date: 10/14/2016   Number of Discs: 32
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Alban Berg  ... 
    Performer:  Franz Crass,  Fritz Wunderlich,  Christa Ludwig,  Gundula Janowitz  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Richter,  Karl Münchinger,  Marcel Couraud,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Bach Orchestra,  Munich Bach Choir,  Stuttgart Hymnus Boys Choir  ... 
    CD: $90.99
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  • 7.
    Opera Gold: 100 Great Tracks
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002503602 Release Date: 06/03/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Georges Bizet,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Marilyn Horne,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Mirella Freni  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Henry Lewis,  Richard Bonynge,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 8.
    Verdi: The Complete Works
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002459302 Release Date: 03/25/2016   Number of Discs: 75
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Violeta Urmana,  Stuart Neill,  Maria Guleghina,  Samuel Ramey  ... 
    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: $220.99
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  • 9.
    Mozart: Die Zauberflote / Gruberova, Levine
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 109190 Release Date: 02/26/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Martti Talvela,  Peter Schreier,  Ileana Cotrubas,  Edda Moser  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung
    DVD: $14.99
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  • 10.
    Mozart: Die Zauberflote / Gruberova, Levine [Blu-ray]
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 109191 Release Date: 02/26/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Ingrid Mayr,  Ann Murray,  Edda Moser,  Ileana Cotrubas  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    Blu-ray Disc: $14.99
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  • 11.
    The Decca Sound [Repackaged Edition]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002434502 Release Date: 01/29/2016   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Manuel de Falla,  Claude Debussy,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Enrique Granados  ... 
    Performer:  Teresa Berganza,  Alfredo Campoli,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Cecilia Bartoli  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet,  Ataulfo Argenta,  Anatole Fistoulari,  Vladimir Ashkenazy  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $181.49
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  • 12.
    Wagner: Der Fliegende Hollander / Klemperer, Adam, Silja, Unger, Burnmeister
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 554008 Release Date: 01/29/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Theo Adam,  Anja Silja,  Martti Talvela,  Ernst Kozub  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  BBC Chorus
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    CD: $23.99
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  • 13.
    Mozart: The Magic Flute (Highlights) / Levine, Vienna Philharmonic
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88697712642 Release Date: 08/28/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Christian Boesch,  Eric Tappy,  Zdislawa Donat,  Rachel Yakar  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Recommendation
    CD: $6.99
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  • 14.
    Karajan - The Opera Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002328102 Release Date: 07/31/2015   Number of Discs: 70
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Franz Lehár,  Franz von Suppé  ... 
    Performer:  Heinz Zednik,  Christine Barbaux,  Katia Ricciarelli,  José van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Paris Opera Chorus,  Schöneberg Boys Choir  ... 
    CD: $236.99
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  • 15.
    Karl Bohm - Late Recordings - Vienna, London, Dresden
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002327602 Release Date: 06/23/2015   Number of Discs: 23
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Anton Bruckner,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Jessye Norman,  Placido Domingo,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Dresden Staatskapelle  ... 
    CD: $75.49
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  • 16.
    Voce D'Angelo - The Complete Decca Recordings / Renata Tebaldi
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4781535 Release Date: 01/20/2015   Number of Discs: 66
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Umberto Giordano,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Giovanni Inghilleri,  Giacinto Prandelli,  Melchiorre Luise,  Fernando Corena  ... 
    Conductor:  Alberto Erede,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni,  Tullio Serafin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Chorus,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra,  Santa Cecilia Academy Chamber Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $168.99
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  • 17.
    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: $48.99
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  • 18.
    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  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $33.98
    CD: $29.99
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  • 19.
    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: $157.49
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  • 20.
    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  ... 
    CD: $181.49
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  • 21.
    Discover... Beethoven
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001912702 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Arthur Grumiaux,  Ingrid Haebler,  Henryk Szeryng  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink,  Alceo Galliera,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Sir Colin Davis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Beaux Arts Trio
    CD: $6.99
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  • 22.
    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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  • 23.
    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  ... 
    Recommendation
    CD: $32.49
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  • 24.
    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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  • 25.
    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  ... 
    CD: $39.99
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