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 26-50 of 97 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    The Decca Sound - Highlights [5-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001620002 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Béla Bartók,  Benjamin Britten,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Montserrat Caballé,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Renata Tebaldi  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Franco Capuana,  István Kertész,  Benjamin Britten  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir  ... 
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  • 27.
    The Decca Sound [50-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001619902 Release Date: 11/15/2011   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  ... 
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  • 28.
    Mozart: Die Zauberflote / Levine, Talvela, Gruberova, Schreier, Berry
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 107199 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Martti Talvela,  Peter Schreier,  Ileana Cotrubas,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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    DVD: $39.99
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  • 29.
    Mahler - The People's Edition
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001501802 Release Date: 12/14/2010   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Christa Ludwig,  Ileana Cotrubas,  Anna Larsson,  Edith Mathis  ... 
    Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik,  Zubin Mehta,  Claudio Abbado,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 30.
    James Levine - Celebrating 40 Years At The Met  [21 DVD Box Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 1135701355 Release Date: 12/07/2010   Number of Discs: 21
    Composer:  Alban Berg,  John Corigliano,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Franz Mazura,  Julia Migenes,  Evelyn Lear,  Kenneth Riegel  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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    DVD: $299.99
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  • 31.
    Bravo Pavarotti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001480402 Release Date: 10/19/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Amilcare Ponchielli,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Tom Krause,  Montserrat Caballé,  Nicolai Ghiaurov  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Richard Bonynge,  Bruno Bartoletti,  Riccardo Chailly  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus  ... 
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  • 32.
    Bravo Pavarotti [DVD]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001480509 Release Date: 10/19/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Gaetano Donizetti
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Martti Talvela,  Sherrill Milnes,  Dame Joan Sutherland  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti,  Nicola Rescigno,  John Pritchard,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 33.
    Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen / Bohm, Bayreuther Festspiele [14-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001479602 Release Date: 10/19/2010   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Gustav Neidlinger,  Thomas Stewart,  Sieglinde Wagner,  Helga Dernesch  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Chorus,  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
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  • 34.
    Mozart: Don Giovanni - Excerpts With Narration In German / Ilja Richter
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 435284 Release Date: 08/12/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Ilja Richter,  Martti Talvela,  Sherrill Milnes,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 35.
    Wagner: Das Rheingold / Karajan, Fischer-Dieskau, Stolze
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 415141 Release Date: 05/27/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Simone Mangelsdorff,  Erwin Wohlfahrt,  Robert Kerns,  Donald Grobe  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 36.
    Wagner: Der Fliegende Hollander / Klemperer, Adam, Silja, Unger, Burnmeister
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 56470 Release Date: 04/20/2010   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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  • 37.
    Wagner: Tannhauser, Etc / Suitner, Patane, Et Al
    Label: Gala   Catalog: 880004 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Carola Nossek,  Henno Garduhn,  Ludmila Dvoráková,  Celestina Casapietra  ... 
    Conductor:  Otmar Suitner,  Giuseppe Patané
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Berlin State Opera Chorus,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus  ... 
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  • 38.
    Mozart Gala - Famous Arias
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 458233 Release Date: 06/05/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Martti Talvela,  Teresa Berganza,  Geraint Evans,  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti,  John Pritchard,  Bryan Balkwill,  István Kertész  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 39.
    Mozart At The Salzburg Festival - Die Zauberflote, Cosi Fan Tutte, La Clemenza Di Tito
    Label: Tdk   Catalog: 5 Release Date: 05/26/2009   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Ann Murray,  James Morris,  Margaret Marshall,  Kathleen Battle  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  James Levine,  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 40.
    Wagner: Der Fliegende Holländer / Klemperer , Adam,  Silja, New Philharmonia Orchestra
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1423 Release Date: 10/14/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Theo Adam,  Annelies Burmeister,  James King,  Anja Silja  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Chorus,  New Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 41.
    50 Jahre Deutsche Oper Am Rhein: Dusseldorf-duisburg
    Label: Ars Produktion   Catalog: 38450 Release Date: 09/01/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Ilse Hollweg,  Anneliese Rothenberger,  Heinz Imdahl,  Astrid Varnay  ... 
    Conductor:  Arnold Quennet,  Alberto Erede,  Giuseppe Patané,  Hector Urbon  ... 
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  • 42.
    Beethoven: Fidelio / Jones, King, Böhm
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001148309 Release Date: 08/12/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Josef Greindl,  Gustav Neidlinger,  Dame Gwyneth Jones,  James King  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
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  • 43.
    Wagner: Das Rheingold / Herbert Von Karajan
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 457781 Release Date: 08/12/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Erwin Wohlfahrt,  Robert Kerns,  Gerhard Stolze,  Simone Mangelsdorff  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 44.
    Mozart: Die Zauberflöte / Sir Georg Solti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 414568 Release Date: 08/05/2008   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Hans Sotin,  René Kollo,  Renate Holm,  Hetty Plümacher  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Boys' Choir,  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 45.
    Wagner: The Great Operas From The Bayreuth Festival
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001123902 Release Date: 06/17/2008   Number of Discs: 33
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Sieglinde Wagner,  Marga Höffgen,  Annelies Burmeister,  Dorothea Siebert  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm,  Silvio Varviso,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Chorus,  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
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  • 46.
    Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov / Talvela, Gedda
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 09178 Release Date: 02/26/2008   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky
    Performer:  Nicolai Gedda,  Kazmierz Pustelak,  Paulos Raptis,  Kazimierz Sergiel  ... 
    Conductor:  Jerzy Semkow
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cracow Polish Radio/TV Chorus,  Cracow Polish Radio/TV Symphony Orchestra
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  • 47.
    Beethoven: Missa Solemnis / Böhm, Price, Ludwig, Ochman
    Label: Dg Double   Catalog: 437925 Release Date: 11/27/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Gerhart Hetzel,  Peter Planyavsky,  Martti Talvela,  Wieslaw Ochman  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
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  • 48.
    Beethoven: Symphony No 9 / Schmidt-isserstedt, Sutherland
    Label: London/Decca Jubilee   Catalog: 417755 Release Date: 11/27/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Martti Talvela,  James King,  Marilyn Horne,  Dame Joan Sutherland
    Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 49.
    Lied Album - Mussorgsky, Rachmaninov, Kilpinen / Martti Talvela
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 430070 Release Date: 04/24/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Yrjö Kilpinen,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Modest Mussorgsky
    Performer:  Martti Talvela,  Irwin Gage,  Ralf Gothóni
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  • 50.
    Haydn: The Seasons / Karl Böhm, Janowitz, Schreier, Talvela
    Label: Dg Galleria   Catalog: 423922 Release Date: 12/18/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Performer:  Peter Schreier,  Martti Talvela,  Gundula Janowitz
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Singverein,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra
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