18 tracks from an under-represented singer of the past.
John Austin | Kangaroo Ground, Australia | 07/12/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This seems to be the only CD devoted to the once celebrated coloratura soprano Lina Pagliughi (1907-1980), and its availability is at best problematic. Having acquired it recently via the Website, and listened again to recordings Signorina Pagliughi made between 1934 and 1942, I do not feel inclined to protest at this neglect. There is much to be heard on the CD that is quite beautiful: a striking "boyish" tone in the middle register, and some phrasing of the "linked sweetness long drawn out" quality. There is much, however, that suggests laziness, poor tone control and a need to "nudge" a trill every half second to keep it going. Pagliughi frequently expressed her indebtedness to her mentor Luiza Tetrazzini. Ten minutes listening to the older soprano's records should have inspired Lina Pagliughi to do better. Records of a soprano of a different type, Elisabeth Schumann, can also show how a singer can launch, hold and withdraw tone so that it retains a uniform smooth quality. Presentation, restoration of original 78s, and a generous time allowance (77 minutes) are well in accord with the usual high standards the Presier label maintains in its series devoted to singers of the past. I suggest, however, that many singers of the present easily surpass what is heard here."
A great soprano from the wrong side of the Callas-Sutherland
L. E. Cantrell | Vancouver, British Columbia Canada | 12/31/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Mr. Austin has firmly established himself as a learned and reliable guide in his Amazon reviews, but for once he has booted one. I will go this far with Mr. Austin: Lina Pagliughi's talents did not shine at their brightest in recital format. (Neither, for that matter did those of some other great sopranos. Just listen to Nelly Melba or Mary Garden sometime. You'll walk away, shaking your head, wondering what all the shouting was about. How ever did THEY become international superstars?)
Madame Pagliughi was a fixture in Italian music during the years that straddled World War II. She seldom appeared on stage during that time because she was regarded as overweight even by the exceedingly generous standards applied to operatic sopranos. On the radio and on record, though, she was a star.
I strongly suggest that anyone interested in Lina Pagliughi's work--and it is very much worth your while to be so--judge her on her complete performances, not on a recital. Before the war, she made a very fine recording of "Lucia" in what we would now consider the old (that is, pre-Callas) style. It really is quite good and, I think, a performance that Donizetti would have preferred over more modern versions. After the war, she led the casts in complete recordings of "La figlia del reggimento" and "La sonnambula," both of which are brilliant and surpass anything recorded more recently. (And, yes, I certainly do include the recordings of both Callas and Sutherland when I write that.)"