• Anita Cerquetti

    Quote Originally Posted by Schigolch View Post

    We have selected a list of 25 males and 25 females. Again, there will be many singers that you can miss here... but there's nothing preventing you from opening a thread, or just a post, to remember them too!.
    Following my own advice, I open a thread to speak about one of my favourite singers, Anita Cerquetti, that was not in the final list.



    Blessed with a very beautiful voice, Cerquetti had also a great vocal technique, incisive phrasing, good balance between her low and high notes,... and after fighting for more than ten years to be a top opera singer, she just retired the very moment she achieved stardom.

    True, she sung for the first time at La Scala in 1960, with an Abigaille and very good reviews. Then, a couple of performances, a couple of recitals, and it will be the end for a Cerquetti that was only 32 years old.

    Later, Cerquetti put the blame on some health issues, and the stress of the singing profession. A great pity. But thanks to her radio broadcasts, we have recordings of many roles, that are among the best we can hear from those wonderful 1950s.

    Here is a youtube with an interview:



    And one of her best roles, singing Norma with Franco Corelli:

    This article was originally published in forum thread: Anita Cerquetti started by Schigolch View original post
    Comments 24 Comments
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      Though she have been singing in some recitals and amateur opera productions, the true debut of Anita Cerquetti was in 1953, with Aida, at the Verona Arena, followed a few days later by Trovatore's Leonora.

      Aida is not Cerquetti's best role. Though she is singing quite competently, the voice is a little bit too rough, we can almost see the singer sweating with the effort. At the end, we applaud because all the difficult passages have been well resolved, but in the process we are missing some of the pure pleasure of just enjoying the Nubian slave's singing... Cerquetti was a very good Aida, not a great Aida.

      There are two complete recordings. In 1954:



      and 1958:




      Duet with Amonasro (Guelfi) - 1954

      Great duet, with a titanic, if a little bit too enthusiastic, Guelfi.
    1. Dark_Angel's Avatar
      Dark_Angel -


      I was able to get a good price on this a few months ago, what a cast with Del Monaco and Cerquetti........
      Very small number of studio recordings so this is pretty much essential
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      I do.

      Cerquetti sung Gioconda for the first time the year 1956, in a cast with Stignani, Poggi and Bastianini. It was a big success, with both critics and audience.



      We also have the recording you mention, that was distributed by Decca. It's from 1957, again with Bastianini but replacing Stignani and Poggi, with Simionato and Del monaco. It was the first and only official studio recording for Cerquetti.

      The voice was just about ideal for the role, and she is even singing with passion, something that was not always there for Cerquetti. The 1957 recording is better, and more interesting, than the older one.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      Singers should be static while they are singing to keep control. A singer needs to act thru her gestures, her face, her arms and hands. But, most importantly, a singer needs to act with her voice.

      Anita Cerquetti





      One of the first roles Cerquetti sung in the theater was Leonora, from Trovatore. We don't have a complete recording, only some highlights from Mexico, in 1957, that I do recommend, in spite of the poor sound.



      Cerquetti was a great Leonora. In "Tacea la notte placida", she display her wonderful and warm center, giving to each word the righ accent. Perhaps "D'amor sull'ali rosee" is a bit less spectacular, but equally fascinating for Verdian voices's lovers:
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      One of the most celebrated roles of Cerquetti was Abigaille, from Nabucco. She premiered the role in 1954, and there is a recording from 1960:



      Few sopranos are equal to singing Abigaille. In my view, this was not really one of the best performances by Cerquetti. The top notes are forced, and she seems often to be a little bit distracted, like looking at Abigaille from outside, instead of playing her from inside.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      la prima opera che vidi fu l' Aida dove debuttavo io: non ne avevo mai
      viste...


      (the first opera I saw was the Aida of my debut. I've never watched one before...)

      Anita Cerquetti




      In 1955 Cerquetti sung for the first time another Verdian heroine, Elena from I Vespri Siciliani.

      Though this opera is not one of Verdi's greatest, the role of Elena is very difficult to sing. Cerquetti's voice was perfectly suited to it. Imperious, she is presenting the character giving to each phrase the exact accent, the righ tone, in a vocal display of captivating beauty.

      She also sung the role often in recitals.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -


      Anita Cerquetti was not a beautiful woman. A "difficult" face, a big, rotund body...

      This was not an obstacle in the 1950s, and she was able to get a good career, that was stopped only by Cerquetti herself. In the operatic wold of today, in spite of her truly magnificent voice, she will get some more trouble to get hired at the beginning, but then she will be a undoubtedly a major star.




      In November, 1955, Cerquetti sung Un Ballo in Maschera in Chicago, with Jussi Bjorling, Tito Gobbi, Claramae Turner and Andrea Foldi. It was a big success, and the first time she approached the role of Amelia. Regrettably, there are no recordings of this performance, though we have one from Florence, at a later date.

      Amelia was a great role for Cerquetti, again singing almost in her dream vocality. One critic said that her voice reminded him of the glow giving off by molten lava... Perhaps "Morró, ma prima in grazia", is sung with a little bit too much distance from the character.

      A tal colpa é nulla il pianto - Morró, ma prima in grazia
    1. Dster's Avatar
      Dster -
      Problem is if a singer does not have the right 'look' its difficult for he/she to get hired, then its hard for him/her to make it. The big fat sopranos and the short, barrow chested tenors are out. Principle singers have to look like Kaufmann and Netbretko nowadays. Here is what Kiri Te Kanawa has to say:
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programme...lk/8981973.stm

      I wonder which house she was referring to?
    1. Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
      Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) -
      Interesting thread and nice Kiri interview, thanks, guys.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      Puccini was not for me. I rejected many proposals to sing Turandot, Tosca, Fanciulla, Manon Lescaut... My maestro always advised me not to sing verismo roles. In fact, I didn't even sing Santuzza, that is just about half an hour singing. The only role I ever did was Loreley, and it was one role too many.

      Anita Cerquetti


      This was the opinion of Cerquetti about her adaptation to Puccini or verismo roles. However, she did indeed recorded some arias:


      Puccini - Vissi d'arte

      Moderator note: The Youtube clips posted here have now been taken down

      What do you think?.

      To me this was a very Italian "Vissi d'arte", with an immaculate phrasing. There is some lack of temperament, true, but she reminds us of a Maria Caniglia, more than her contemporaries Callas or Tebaldi, that were so different as night and day.

      Catalani's and Giordano's arias are very well sung. In "La mamma morta" we even find a pinch of this missing temperament. While it's true that sometimes the top notes of Cerquetti were a little bit strained, on those tapes they are magnificent.

      It seems to me that Cerquetti was not really right turning down those roles.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      In 1956, Cerquetti sung for the first time the role of Elisabetta, from Verdi's Don Carlo, in Lisbon, with a great cast including Simionato, Bergonzi, Taddei and Christoff. The performances were a great success, and a few months later she was singing the role again, this time at the Comunale, with Barbieri, Siepi, Lo Forese and Bastianini.

      There is a recording available:



      We are, perhaps, in front of the best Elisabetta on record. A wonderful phrasing, perfectly balanced, a noble expression, a good portrait of the Queen, and the woman in love.
    1. Amfortas's Avatar
      Amfortas -
      Beautiful recording, Schigolch. She has the vocal resources to convey the character's imperious strength, and the artistry to convey her vulnerability. Thank you.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      A curiosity in Cerquetti's career was Gli Abencerragi, by Cherubini, sung in Florence's Maggio Musicale.



      Luigi Cherubini premiered in 1813, at Paris Opera, Les Abencérages. It was a modest success, though the famous aria from Almanzor, "Suspendez de ses murs", has always been part of French tenor repertoire.
      Here we can hear this aria in the voice of Georges Thill:

      Moderator note: The Youtube clip posted here has now been taken down

      In his Italian version, Gli Abecenrragi, twe have a recording of this Florentine evening, with Anita Cerquetti in the role of Noraïme. The intention was to use the opera at a second Medea, and a vehicle for Cerquetti. While the Italian diva sings wonderfully, regrettably Gli Abecenrragi is not Medea.

      Moderator note: The Youtube clip posted here has now been taken down
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      Besides her Gioconda, the only other official Cerquetti recording is a recital for Decca, recorded in 1957, with the following content: (despite appearance to the contrary, the rumors that Cerquetti's mother-in-law designed the cover were false)



      1. Verdi - Aida - 0 patria mia
      2. Verdi - I Vespri siciliani - Mercé, dilette amiche
      3. Bellini - Norma - Casta diva
      4. Spontini - Agnese di Hohenstanfen - 0 Re dei cieli
      5. Verdi - Nabucco - Anch'io dischiuso un giorno
      6. Verdi - Ernani - Ernani, Ernani involami
      7. Puccini - Tosca - Vissi d'arte
      8. Verdi - La Forza del destino - Pace, pace mio Dio
      9. Ponchielli - La Gioconda - Suicidio!
      10. Ponchielli - La Gioconda - È un anatema ... il mio braccio t'afferra

      Apart from Tosca, Cerquetti never sung in the theater the much more infrequent Agnese, but she was very fond of the aria "O Re dei cieli":

      Moderator note: The Youtube clip posted here has now been taken down

      This is really a singing feast without any discernible flaw. We can hear a voice flexible, with immaculate top notes and also showing an almost granitic strenght.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      If I have to choose, I'm always for singing a note less forte, but more beautiful

      Anita Cerquetti


      In April, 1956, Cerquetti sung in a radio broadcast a William Tell, with Dietrich Fischer Dieskau, Gianni Jaia and Giuseppe Modesti



      The same year, she participated in another broadcast, singing Rossinian Mosè, with Rosanna Carteri, Giuseppe Taddei and Nicola Rossi-Lemeni



      Both recordings are nice, but neither will make it into Opera's Hall of Fame. Anaide and Matilde are not the best roles for Cerquetti.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      In 1957, RAI recorded Weber's Oberon, in an Italian version with Cerquetti, Pirazzini, Picchi, Munteanu... under the baton of Vittorio Güi.



      This is rarity, because Oberon, premiered in London with an English libretto, does not have an extensive discography, and it's mostly in German, and some recording in the original English.

      This is very recommended for Weber's lovers, with an interesting treatment by Güi: calm, deliberate, almost majestic. The singers are quite good, and Cerquett's performance is wonderful, with some unbelievably beautiful notes, but also incorporating the character with great feeling
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -



      In 1957, Cerquetti sung Ernani, with Del Monaco, Bastianini and Christoff, under the baton of Mitropoulos. Her Elvira, perhaps a little bit strained in the top notes, is one of the best on record. A lovely performance.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      La Forza del Destino was an opera often sung by Cerquetti, and her Leonora a big favourite with audience and critics alike.

      There are two complete recordings:

      In 1957, from Rome:



      In 1958, from Mexico:



      Personally, I found her a very good Leonora, but it's not one of my favourites Cerquetti's roles. Her opulent voice is able to handle all the requirements of the score, but perhaps a little bit of emotion is missing is several passages.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      The 2nd of January, 1958, Maria Callas is singing Norma in Rome. There is a full house, with very expensive tickets, and with the President of Italy being part of the audience.

      Callas was having some throat problems, and she intended to cancel. However, under a lot of pressure from the Management of the theater, she accepted to sing the performance. But after the first act, she is unable to continue and decides to quit. A tremendous scandal, as there is no ready replacement.

      Then, for the performance of January, 4th, Cerquetti, that was singing in Naples, is hired and she goes to Rome without any rest. The house is full again, and there is a resounding success. "Grazie!, Viva Italia!, Vivan le voce italiane!". Though Callas is ready to sing the next performances scheduled for the 8th and the 11th, her contract is cancelled and Cerquetti sings also those days. She is a the top of the operatic world.

      Later, and brandishing a medical certificate about her indisposition, Callas won a lawsuit and get her money back... but this is another story.
    1. Dark_Angel's Avatar
      Dark_Angel -
      Quote Originally Posted by Schigolch View Post
      The 2nd of January, 1958, Maria Callas is singing Norma in Rome. There is a full house, with very expensive tickets, and with the President of Italy being part of the audience.

      Callas was having some throat problems, and she intended to cancel. However, under a lot of pressure from the Management of the theater, she accepted to sing the performance. But after the first act, she is unable to continue and decides to quit. A tremendous scandal, as there is no ready replacement.

      Then, for the performance of January, 4th, Cerquetti, that was singing in Naples, is hired and she goes to Rome without any rest. The house is full again, and there is a resounding success. "Grazie!, Viva Italia!, Vivan le voce italiane!". Though Callas is ready to sing the next performances scheduled for the 8th and the 11th, her contract is cancelled and Cerquetti sings also those days. She is a the top of the operatic world.

      Later, and brandishing a medical certificate about her indisposition, Callas won a lawsuit and get her money back... but this is another story.



      You can even buy the act 1 before the walk-out...........great scandal


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