Licia Albanese and Richard Tucker in All-Puccini Program

For Richard Tucker's Birthday (Aug. 28), hear hourly selections by the tenor on the Operavore Stream

Monday, August 18, 2014 - 02:00 PM

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:


Program:

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

Tags:

More in:

Comments [19]

Maybe the next reference to the "lost generation" will succeed. Or not. DD~~

Aug. 28 2014 11:51 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau

I grew up listening to both of them. what happy memories. I always thought Tucker sounded better in French rather than Italian. His Italian sat too much in the back of the throat. Aw, but when he sang in French, the voice was freer. And wonderful.

Aug. 28 2014 03:23 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

I heard today from a colleague of mine at the MET OPERA a comment that bears considerable significance in light of the MET OPERA's current stressful negotiations. PETER GELB vaunting his successful HD in real time broadcasts of MET OPERA productions has related to others in his bubble that he doesn't much care for opera, wants it to be more telegenic, HOLLYWOOD-STYLE with glamourous gals and handsome men, even beyond the singers to include the ballet as well. That confirms what many of us had suspected considering the lackluster non-charismatic singers newly hired. It seems that nowadays we witness on an almost daily basis a growing number of charismatic highly gifted celebrities from many professions, theatrical, political and scientific passing out of our lives. Bullies and corruption world wide appear to have taken center stage. Sports is not so sporty and hedonistic pleasures take precedence over productive positive endeavors. Oh, well Julius Caesar remarked over a thousand years ago, "this is a lost generation, maybe the next one will succeed."

Aug. 22 2014 01:25 PM
Jung

Apparently, the site does not perform well in Firefox for some reason.

Aug. 22 2014 09:42 AM
Helene Williams Spierman from Valley Stream, NY

Yes, Tucker did have some trouble in the Boheme aria. And after he breathed in the middle of the high note, he tried to quicken the tempo; but the conductor didn't seem to get it. (This is where I'm up to listening now....)

Aug. 21 2014 11:26 PM
James Koenig

Addio Licia Albanese! What a gift you were to so many over an incredible 105 years of life!
I did a benefit concert in Princeton and Madame Albanese was the guest of honor. We rode out to the concert together and had such a delightful conversation both going and coming home again. She sparkled with recollections and opinions and encouragement. My teacher Giorgio Tozzi knew her well-- Today I listened to the live broadcast of the concert with her and Richard Tucker. Wow-- Rest in peace Licia Albanese-- I'm sure there will be lively discussions in heaven with you and Puccini! And he'll probably be saying "Grazie!"

Aug. 21 2014 09:20 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

It seems that nowadays we witness on an almost daily basis a growing number of charismatic highly gifted celebrities from many professions, theatrical, political and scientific passing out of our lives. Bullies and corruption world wide appear to have taken center stage. Sports is not so sporty and hedonistic pleasures take precedence over productive positive endeavors. Oh, well Julius Caesar remarked over a thousand years ago, "this is a lost generation, maybe the next one will succeed."

Aug. 21 2014 06:31 PM
Ramona Perez Finkelman from Nyack, NY

I entered at age 16 a contest to choose a winner for a 4 year Grace Moore Vocal scholarship to the University of Tennessee. I was already fixed in my mind and heart on a career in classical music as a singer. I chose as my aria "Si, mi chiamano Mimi".........and went out to buy Licia Albanese's recording of the aria. I wore it out,with my brother at the piano, listening to the dynamics, phrasing, pronunciation and then taking what we learned weekly to my wonderful teachers, the Wolff's (she having been a famous soprano in Germany and he a famous conductor). The day came for the tryouts.........after many prelims, etc. I Won. I have always attributed much of the wonderment of a sixteen year old winning this coveted scholarship to Madame Albanese. I adored her and finally met her just a few years ago. How gracious she was, and so pleased to hear my story. I mourn her death and cried when I heard her sing "our" aria today.

Aug. 21 2014 05:25 PM

San Francisco remembers Licia Albanese, too. As a teenager growing up in a colorless Los Angeles suburb in the '50's, she seemed to exemplify the then very Italian culture of San Francisco Opera and that distant city It was as if she lived in North Beach, although of course she didn't.

Aug. 20 2014 05:59 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

As a boy living in Jersey City and taking the Hudson Tubes [now called PATH]\to Herald Square, 6 blocks from the old MET OPERA, I was able to see and hear Albanese and Tucker and as one can imagine many great singers at the height of their careers from standing room in the Family Circle. Both Lucia and Richard who were always most hospitable to after performance fans in their dressing rooms, were also so totally absorbed in their roles with a sensitivity rare today. Albanese in particular looked and acted her roles convincingly. Their era at the MET OPERA was one where at any scheduled performance one could count on a memorable experience. Del Monaco, Bjorling, Svanholm, Bastianini, Hines, Warren, Traubel, Pons and Merrill were everywhere on the scheduling. Lewissohn Stadium should not have been torn down, it was an inexpensive treat with top performers. The Firestone Hour and the Bell Telephone Hour also served up sterling performances, many of which are observable on Classic Arts Society broadcasts over certain public broadcasting stations, in NJ it is channel 77.

Aug. 20 2014 05:58 PM
Les from Miami, Florida

The Prelude to "Le Villi" wasn't played but "La Tragenda", the witches' dance, was, as the announcer said. Mr. Tucker did seem to have problems with "Che gelida manina" in that he was taking breaths in the middle of words normally sung in one breath and although it was transposed down he didn't sing the high note at full value. A few words weren't sung at all in the Love Duet from "Madama Butterfly". Speculation: the humidity? lack of a prompter? We'll probably never know and I leave it to the professionals. This is the only time I ever heard Albanese and Tucker sing together and I think she sounded resplendent throughout.

Aug. 20 2014 03:00 AM
Raul Cuervo

It is always a privilege and a delightment to listen to these two masters of the opera. However was sad for me to know today of the death of our dear lady Licia Albanese, my condolences to her family and freinds.
I met her a few years ago when introduced by my friends Anthony Stivanello and italian Tenor Giovanni Consiglio both wonderful persons and friends. May we all pray for their reunion with our Lord and that their voices forever be heard in the Lord's Kingdom. Amen

Aug. 19 2014 03:47 PM
Madison from Manhattan

What happened to Tucker in "Che gelida manina"? He seems to have lost his voice and struggled to finish it.

Aug. 19 2014 08:49 AM
Howard from Florida

What a worthy tribute to the artistry of Licia Albanese as well as that of her colleagues Richard Tucker and Alfredo Antonini. I thought readers might like to hear an anecdote about Maestro Antonini, Tampa Symphony conductor, and CBS music director at the time of "Camera Three" in the '50s and '60s. He was called upon as a 13-year old student at the Milan Conservatory in 1917 to play celesta for an orchestra formed for Toscanini to conduct to boost Italian morale during World War I. The piece was "Petrouchka", first time in Italy and first time performed by Toscanini. There's a challenge for a 13-year-old! Two weeks later student Antonini was called upon to play glockenspiel in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". Brash and cocky, Antonini thought he'd see if Toscanini's famed ear could detect his intentionally NOT playing his part. He did. No more "tests". It's good to hear the artistry of Maestro Antonini again.

Aug. 19 2014 08:39 AM
Madison from Manhattan

Because I probably saw Tucker more often than any other tenor at the Met back in those days of Bjoerling, DiStefano,del Monaco, Gedda,Corelli,etc. it's sometimes too easy to forget what a great singer he was.

Aug. 19 2014 08:31 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

Thanks, WQXR, for posting this concert as broadcast over WNYC. I've never heard it before. I don't mean to carp, but "Overture" to "La Bohe'me"? There's a short orchestral introduction, all right, as the world knows. To be positive now, there is a "Preludio" (Prelude) to "Le Villi", as is written in the full score. I just had to write in.

Aug. 19 2014 07:05 AM
WQXR

@nmharleyrider - there are two audio files on this page, one at the top, under the headline (you'll see an arrow next to the "listen" icon). The other is an arrow above the program details. Once you click on those, the audio will start playing.

Thanks for listening.

Aug. 18 2014 05:31 PM
nmharleyrider from nm

How does one get this audio to play? I've looked all over the website page for a play button or some sort of link that would play the concert to no avail.

Aug. 18 2014 05:11 PM
Ed Rosen from NYC

This is a treasure to listen! I was there as a young teenager and remember it well. There were many broadcasts from Lewisohn Stadium. Do the others exist, and if so, they should be featured also.

Thank you for bringing back some wonderful memories of two great, great singers.

Best wishes,
Ed Rosen

Aug. 18 2014 03:48 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.

Follow WQXR 

 

 

 

 

 

Sponsored

About Operavore

LISTEN TO THE OPERAVORE 24/7 STREAM

Operavore is WQXR's digital 24/7 audio stream, blog and weekly radio show devoted to Opera. The Operavore blog features breaking news, expert commentary and reviews by writers Fred Plotkin, David Patrick Stearns and Amanda Angel. The stream features a continuous, carefully programmed mix of classic and contemporary opera recordings. The Operavore radio show on WQXR, features opera news bulletins from the around the globe, previews of new recordings, and interviews with the players and personalities on the scene.

Follow Operavore 

Feeds