Thursday, December 30, 2010

Florence Quartararo: Worth a Listen

Backstage at the MET, 1946
Soprano Florence Quartararo had about the shortest career of any major historical singer. Born to Italian parents in America, Quartararo was discovered through a quirk of fate at the age of 23, and never studied singing formally. Quartararo's first public appearance was singing on the Bing Crosby radio show under the assumed name of Florence Alba, but had reverted to her true name by the time she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1947. In 1951, Quartararo retired from singing forever when she married Italian bass Italo Tajo and never returned. At the MET, she had given only 37 performances in nine roles. Her debut was in a 1946 production of Carmen with Risë Stevens, Jacques Gérard and Robert Merrill.

Listen to a 32 minute sampling of Quartararo's recorded legacy inlcuding arias from Andrea Chenier, Il Trovatore, Cavalleria Rusticana, Thaïs and more after the jump.
Quartararo made four 78 sides for RCA Victor in 1947 -- Handel's "Care selve," "La mamma morta" from Giordano's Andrea Chénier, and two duets with tenor Ramón Vinay. This is likely all we might have of her artistry if she had not been sought out by researcher Richard Caniell, who had seen her perform at the Met in the 1940s and interviewed Quartararo in 1982. At this time, Quartararo turned over her personal collection of recordings to Caniell, who initially issued them on three cassettes. Since then these recordings have emerged on CD reissues, helping re-establish a reputation for Quartararo as one of the great voices of the twentieth century. About her singing, Robert Farr of Music Web International called Quartararo "a voice to set alongside the giants of the twentieth century."

Listen to 32 minutes of singing from this great soprano by clicking here.

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