In memory of Licia Albanese, who died on Aug. 15 at age 105, we've uncovered this gem from the archives: an all-Puccini concert featuring Albanese with the tenor Richard Tucker, recorded at Lewisohn Stadium in Upper Manhattan.
The program, which was originally broadcast July 1, 1959 on sister station WNYC, features arias, duets and excerpts from the operas of Puccini. Alfredo Antonini and the Stadium Symphony Orchestra accompany the singers.
The New York Times's John Briggs noted that "Mr. Tucker was physically out of sorts" in the first half, and that he missed some cues and flubbed some phrases. "But by the second half of the program, Mr. Tucker, a thoroughgoing professional, had recovered his second wind," the review continues. As for Albanese, Briggs writes that her "singing was assured as usual, and she made the most of the plentiful opportunities for dramatic intensity" in several arias.
The first half can be heard at the top of this page. Listen to the second half here:
Tosca: Introduction; Recondita armonia; Vissi d’arte; E lucevan le stelle; O dolci mani; Symphonic conclusion
La Boheme: Overture to Act One; Non sono in vena; Che gelida manina; Si, mi chiamano Mimi; O soave fanciulla
La villi: Prelude
Turnadot: Nessun Dorma
Manon Lescaut: Intermezzo from Act II; In quelle trine morbide; Tu, tu, amore?
Madama Butterfly: Introduction to Act One; Un bel di verdremo; Viene la sera
Audio courtesy of WNYC Archive Collections