Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Birthday: Eileen Farrell

"Suicidio" La Gioconda Ponchielli
Eileen Farrell (February 13, 1920 – March 23, 2002) was an American opera and concert singer soprano. During her career, Farrell was greatly admired as an opera singer, but she preferred the concert hall and radio to the theater. Farrell was born in Willimantic, Connecticut, but she moved at an early age to Woonsocket, Rhode Island, which she always publicly and affectionately called her home town. Her parents were vaudeville singers. In 1942 she made her concert debut on CBS radio where she soon presented her own radio program. During 1947–1948, she toured the US as a concert singer, and in 1949 she toured South America.

"Cäcilie" Strauss
Farrell's song recital in New York in October 1950 was enthusiastically acclaimed and gained her immediate recognition. That year, she also appeared in a concert performance of Berg's Wozzeck as Marie. In 1952, she was engaged by Arturo Toscanini for his first and only studio recording of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. In the 1955 film Interrupted Melody, which starred Eleanor Parker as Australian soprano Marjorie Lawrence, Eileen Farrell supplied the singing voice. As early as 1956 she appeared before an audience of over 13,000 under the direction of the conductor Alfredo Antonini in a
performance of arias from Verdi's Ernani at the Lewisohn Stadium in New York City. In 1956 she made her stage debut as Santuzza in Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana with the San Carlo Opera in Tampa, Florida. In 1957 she debuted with the
Lyric Opera of Chicago; in 1958, with the San Francisco Opera. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut on December 6, 1960, singing the title role in Gluck's Alceste. She opened the 1962–63 Met season as Maddalena in Giordano's Andrea Chénier, opposite Franco Corelli. She remained on the Met roster through the 1963–64 season, singing forty-four performance in six roles, then returned in March 1966 for two final performances as Maddalena. Her other roles at the Met included the title role in Ponchielli's La Gioconda, Leonora in Verdi's La forza del destino, Isabella in de Falla's Atlàntida, and Santuzza. Farrell was equally at home singing pop material and opera. She made four Columbia albums of popular music: I've Got a Right to Sing the Blues, Here I Go Again, This Fling Called Love and Together with Love. Throughout the 1960s
she was a frequent soloist with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Leonard Bernstein; she was also a favourite of Thomas Schippers. With Eugene Ormandy, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, she was a featured soloist in an abridged recording of Handel's Messiah. The other featured soloists were Martha Lipton, Davis Cunningham and William Warfield. From 1971 to 1980, Farrell was professor of music at the Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington. From 1983 to 1985, she was professor of music at the University of Maine in Orono. She also made several recordings of blues music late in her career, as well as a well-received duet with Frank Sinatra on his Trilogy album, in which they sang a
version of the country music hit "For the Good Times." This introduced her to a new group of fans, especially Sinatra expert Charles Fasciano, who considered this song his personal favorite. She published a memoir, Can't Help Singing, in 1999. Beginning in 1987 she began to record pop albums again. Her first was for the Audiophile label called With Much Love. She later recorded several albums for the Reference label that were well received. Farrell was married to a New York City police officer with whom she maintained a home in the Grymes Hill neighborhood section of Staten Island, NY. She was elected to Woonsocket's Hall of Fame. She died in March 2002, aged 82.

"Come Love With Me" Carnevali [Farrell is 25 years old in this radio recording]

"I Know That My Redeemer Liveth" Messiah Händel

"Beau Soir" Debussy

Medea Act I duet with James McCracken

"Adieu forêt!" The Maid of Orleans Tchaikovsky

"Ah! quando all'ara sorgemi" Maria Stuarda Donizetti

"Deep River"arr. Buleighs

"Starke Scheite" Götterdämmerung (Wagner)

"Depuis le jour" Louise Charpentier

"Ah, Perfido!" Beethoven

"I Gotta A Right To Sing The Blues"

"Stormy Weather"