Forwarded from Opera-L
----- Original Message -----
From: "Max Paley" <[log in to unmask]>
To: "Steve Abrams" <[log in to unmask]>
Cc: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, September 07, 2008 7:22 AM
Subject: Re: Bastianini's studio RIGOLETTO with Kraus and Scotto-- what
> On Sep 6, 2008, at 8:37 PM, Steve Abrams wrote:
>> I have been in touch with Tom Fine, who is the son of Wilma Cozart and
>> C. R. Fine. He has consulted the official sessions book of the Mercury
>> Living Presence recordings and confirms my assertion that Rigoletto was
>> recorded in 1960 at the Teatro della Pergola in Florence beginning on
>> July 2nd. The full dates were July 2-7 and 9,10. He does not believe
>> Max Paley's claim that his mother contradicted the official sessions
>> book and claimed the recording was shifted to a nearby warehouse. The
>> recordings were co-produced with Ricordi and the ownership eventually
>> reverted to Ricordi.
> The article including the interview with Tom's mother was one of a two-
> part series on Mercury Living Presence recordings in one of the two
> UK publications "Classic Record Collector" or "International Classical
> Record Collector." The two magazines are very similar in content and
> form factor. I can't cite the specific issues because I ran out of space
> for them about a year ago. However, someone else on this group may have
> them. I'm fairly certain it was later than the the Summer 1998
> "International Opera Collector" issue mentioned by Jon Conrad that
> discussed the "Rigoletto" in question.
> In the same article, Ms. Cozart had negative commentary on the first of
> the series, Cherubini's "Medea" with Maria Callas. She indicated that
> the recording
> team didn't have enough preparation time in that case to set up properly
> for a hall new to them (La Scala). She did, however, surprise me by
> that she thought EMI had done "a great job" of remastering it, my
> surprise being that any EMI CD issue I've heard of this recording sounds
> like a pallid
> shadow of either the original Mercury discs or the Mercury/Ampex open-
> reel tape issue.
>> The "Notes about the recording" in the original booklet make it clear
>> that the recording was made at the Pergola. Three microphones were
>> suspended in the hall and not moved during the recording. As usual with
>> Living Presence sessions, this was a three channel recording.
> The notes in the booklet do make it clear, which is why I particularly
> noted Ms. Cozart's comment and was surprised by it. The booklet notes go
> into some
> amount of detail of the Mercury truck going down small alleys to an area
> under the Pergola on "a sunny day in July, 1960."
> By the way, I think Wilma Cozart is a truly great lady who really
> understands sound like few others. The recording process used for the
> Mercury "Living
> Presence" series was outstanding in its integrity and truthfulness of
> sound. Those recordings remain unsurpassed. It might sound simple to
> use only
> three microphones for a stereo recording, but it's one of the hardest
> things you can do and you'd be hard pressed to find a recording engineer
> with the ear and skill for how to position such a small number of mikes
> effectively to capture the full orchestral, choral and vocal forces
> involved in an opera
> along with a good capture of the hall in which they were recorded.
> Once these microphones were placed, tests were recorded and levels set
> based on those. There was no "gain riding" or compression applied, at
> least to
> the master tape. The results are interesting for the sheer realism and
> vitality of sound, but also for another reason: they effectively debash
> the notion that
> singers have to be positioned so that they sound a city block away for
> the recording to reflect opera house reality. In these recordings, the
> voices are
> clear, present and very "there."
> I think Ms. Cozart also effectively bebunked the thought that there is
> anything innately wrong with digital sound reproduction, and not just DSD
> or high res,
> but standard 16-bit, 44.1 KHz. She did this with the series of reissues
> of that Living Presence series on CD that was done in the early 90's.
> These are
> phenomenal sounding CD's. To produce these reissues, Cozart had
> original tube-amplified tape decks fully restored.
> Interestingly, Wilma Cozart refused to allow CD reissues of the stereo
> recordings Mercury had made of the violinist Josef Szigeti.
>> I think that Paley has also confused the Teatro della Pergola with
>> another theatre, probably the Communale?, in speaking of the venue of
>> the 1953 Serafin Lucia.
> I did confuse the two Florence theaters.
> And I would be very, very interested to hear if Tom Fine knows what
> became of the master tapes. If "ownership" reverted to Ricordi, did they
> also get the