The Complete RCA Recital Albums
To mark the tenth anniversary of Anna Moffo’s death in 2016, the RCA label released a 12-CDs box set of her ten recital albums.
If Joan Sutherland was “La Stupenda”, Maria Callas “La Divina” and Montserrat Caballé “La Superba”, Italian-American soprano Anna Moffo is remembered as “La Bellissima”. Born in Wayne, Pennsylvania, in 1932, Moffo studied at the Curtis Institute, Philadelphia, and then in Rome, where her teachers were Luigi Ricci, Giorgio Favaretto and Mercedes Llopart. Her meteoric career began in 1955, when she debuted in Spoleto as Norina. Success came after the television broadcast of Madama Butterfly in 1956, when she became famous overnight.
After few years in Europe, her career continued in America, where she joined the Metropolitan Opera in 1959. The opera of her debut at the Met was La traviata (Violetta became one of Moffo’s signature roles) and she appeared in two-hundred performances of more than twenty roles in the next eighteen seasons. Her repertoire ranged from Mozart (Pamina, Susanna) to belcanto (Norina, Lucia di Lammermoor) to Verdi (Gilda, Luisa Miller, Nannetta). Her other roles included the four heroines of Les contes d’Hoffmann, Juliet, Gounod’s Marguerite, Manon, Mélisande and the title role in La Périchole. At the end of her career she sang also Thaïs, Adriana Lecouvreur, Kate in Giannini’s The Taming of the Shrew and Carmen.
Moffo died in New York in 2006.
Anna Moffo. The Complete RCA Recital Albums
The best thing about this box set is that it includes five albums which have been remastered on CD for the first time and the high quality of the sound makes these recordings valuable and extremely enjoyable additions.
Arias from Faust, La Bohème, Dinorah, etc.
The bulk of the collection focuses on recordings released in the early 1960s – which means, during Moffo’s golden period. The earliest album is Arias from Faust, La Bohème, Dinorah and other operas. It was recorded in 1960 with the Rome Opera Orchestra led by legendary conductor Tullio Serafin.
Songs of the Auvergne is a gem of a recording Moffo made in 1964 with the American Symphony Orchestra conducted by the elderly but still imposing Leopold Stokowski. This album is still a milestone not only for Canteloube’s Songs, although the cycle is not complete, but also for Rachmaninov’s Vocalise. Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas Brasileiras rounds off the collection.
A Verdi Collaboration
A Verdi Collaboration was recorded in 1963 with the RCA Italiana Orchestra led by conductor Franco Ferrara. The arias are taken from I Vespri siciliani, Ernani, Aida, Il trovatore, Giovanna d’Arco, Otello, Un ballo in maschera and Simon Boccanegra.
A Portrait of Manon
A Portrait of Manon brings together performances Moffo recorded between 1958 and 1966. The scenes are from both Massenet’s Manon and Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. The soprano sings opposite Giuseppe Di Stefano and Flaviano Labò, who sing Des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon and Puccini’s Manon Lescaut respectively. Robert Kerns sings Lescaut in both versions.
The Dream Duet
The Dream Duet is a selection from Broadway and operetta favourites Moffo sings together with Sergio Franchi. The recording dates to 1963.
The Great Moments of Die Fledermaus is a lovely collection of the most significant scenes from Johann Strauss jr.’s operetta. It was recorded in 1964 with the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Oscar Danon. It features –among the others – Sergio Franchi as Alfred, Risë Stevens as Orlofsky and Jeanette Scovotti as Adele. Moffo sings the role of Rosalinda.
Great Love Duets from Opera
Great Love Duets from Opera collects scenes from some of the operas Moffo performed more often. They are Madama Butterfly, La Bohème, Manon Lescaut, Lucia di Lammermoor, La traviata, Rigoletto, Manon, Luisa Miller and La Rondine. The tracks dates to the Fifties and the Sixties. The recording location is Rome, at the Rome Opera House and at the RCA Italiana Studios. Tenors as Carlo Bergonzi, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Alfredo Kraus, Flaviano Labò, Richard Tucker and Cesare Valletti sing opposite Moffo. Among the conductors, the most notable names are those of Fernando Previtali, Georges Prêtre, Francesco Molinari-Pradelli and Georg Solti
Heroines From Great French Operas
Heroines From Great French Operas is one of Moffo’s last recordings, made in 1975. The soprano sings some of the most popular scenes of the French repertoire of the 19th and 20th century. Among the most significant, the collection includes arias from La fille du regiment, Hamlet, Romeo et Juliette and Louise.
Songs of Debussy dates to 1971 and features Jean Casadesus at the piano. In this recording, Moffo sings Cinq Poèmes de Baudelaire, Fêtes galantes and other songs.
One Night of Love
One Night of Love originated from Moffo’s participation to the “The Tonight Show”. The the original LP cover reports that it brings together «famous songs from stage and screen» sung by «the magnificent voice of Moffo». Skitch Henderson conducts the RCA Victor Orchestra.
Anna Moffo. Selected Arias from her RCA Opera Recordings
Anna Moffo. Selected Arias from her RCA Opera Recordings is a selection from La serva padrona, Lucia di Lammermoor, Rigoletto, La traviata and other operas. Among the most distinguished “guest stars”, the most illustrious name are those of Shirley Verrett and Richard Tucker.
Anna Moffo. The Complete RCA Recital Albums is one of those tributes that really reveals the greatness of a singer and her art. It offers an extensive overview of her repertoire. Furtherover, it shows off the flexibility, smoothness and warmth of her voice, together with Moffo’s unmistakably sweet and witty temperament.