- Audio CD (Nov 16 1999)
- Number of Discs: 2
- Format: Import
- Label: Romophone
- ASIN: B000034D59
Alda was a student of the celebrated Mathilde Marchesi, who also taught Nellie Melba. Indeed, at Alda's audition, Marchesi told her husband, "Salvatore, I have found the new Melba!" Alda was in fact good enough to present a threat to the more established diva, who insisted that Oscar Hammerstein chose between the two of them: "Either Alda or Myself!" runs the famous telegram.
Mme. Alda was one of the most colorful operatic personalities of the early twentieth century. She was married to Giulio Gatti-Cassazza, head of the Met at the time, but she did not abuse her influence as a more capricious diva might have. She had a dry, caustic wit, as evidenced in her autobiography, "Men, Women, and Tenors" (a thoroughly enjoyable read, by the way).
These recordings present the voice behind the legend, and an excellent voice it is, too. A lyric soprano of substantial weight, she was careful to remain well inside the lyric fach, venturing only a single Aida as an experiment. Her favorite role was Mimi, and it shows: her two arias from "La Boheme" are magical. Her high notes glitter, and the low range is full and round. The voice is even throughout the registers, a hallmark of the Marchesi school.
The transfers, as on all Romophone editions, are expertly done, allowing the voice to come through with added freshness and clarity. A wonderful set, one of the best of the series.