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 Aďno 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
Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov / Talvela, Gedda
Release Date: 02/26/2008   Label: Emi Classics  
Catalog: 09178   Number of Discs: 3
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Mozart: Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail / Talvela, Donata, Bertini
Release Date: 09/24/2013   Label: Arthaus Musik  
Catalog: 101691   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 76-82 of 82 Available Recordings
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  • 76.
    Opera Scenes From Savonlinna
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 373 Release Date: 09/23/1994   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Wagner,  Modest Mussorgsky  ... 
    Performer:  Jorma Silvasti,  Satu Vihavainen,  Jaako Ryhänan,  Jorma Falck  ... 
    Conductor:  Kyösti Haatanen,  Ulf Söderblom,  Ilpo Mansnerus,  Leif Segerstam
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Savonlinna Opera Festival Chorus,  Savonlinna Opera Festival Orchestra
    CD: $44.49
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  • 77.
    Schubert: Winterreise / Talvela, Gothoni
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 253 Release Date: 09/22/1994   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Martti Talvela,  Ralf Gothóni
    CD: $21.49
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  • 78.
    Mussorgsky: Pictures At An Exhibition, Night On Bald Mountain
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 325 Release Date: 10/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky
    Performer:  Martti Talvela
    Conductor:  Leif Segerstam,  Neeme Järvi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $21.49
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  • 79.
    Mahler: The Symphonies / Solti, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 430804 Release Date: 02/11/1992   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  René Kollo,  Heather Harper,  Arleen Augér,  Yvonne Minton  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Vienna Boys' Choir,  Vienna Singverein  ... 
    CD: $72.49
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  • 80.
    The Solti Collection - Beethoven: Symphony No 9 / Lorengar, Minton, Burrows, Talvela
    Label: London/Decca Jubilee   Catalog: 430438 Release Date: 05/10/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Yvonne Minton,  Martti Talvela,  Stuart Burrows,  Pilar Lorengar
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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  • 81.
    Verdi: Rigoletto / Bonynge, Sutherland, Pavarotti, Milnes
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 414269 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Martti Talvela,  Huguette Tourangeau  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ambrosian Opera Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 82.
    Mozart: Don Giovanni / Fischer-Dieskau, Nilsson, Bohm
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 429870 Release Date: 06/01/1990   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Birgit Nilsson,  Reri Grist,  Martina Arroyo,  Ezio Flagello  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague National Theatre Orchestra,  Czech Singers Chorus
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