One of the brightest stars in the 20th-century operatic firmament, the Pennsylvania-born soprano Anna Moffo (1932–2006) enjoyed a meteoric rise in the 1950s and 1960s that saw her conquer all the major opera houses in Europe and America. After making her Metropolitan Opera début in 1959 as Violetta in La traviata, she went on to appear with the company in 200 performances of 21 roles over a total of 18 seasons, before finally singing her last complete performance – once again as Verdi’s Violetta – and retiring from the stage in 1976. Specially released to mark the 10th anniversary of Anna Moffo’s death, Sony Classical releases for the first time, newly mastered from the original analogue tapes using 24bit/96kHz technology.
This recital, Héroïque, is tenor Bryan Hymel’s first studio recording for Warner Classics. Its imaginatively conceived programme showcases him in repertoire that he has made his own on stages such as the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden and the Bavarian State Opera: opera in French that demands a thrilling heroism in both voice and style – and a top register of outstanding brilliance, since the album offers a grand total of 19 top C’s.
This release comes as quite a surprise. Although John Lucas in his 1993 biography of Sir Reginald Goodall refers in a footnote to the existence of a BBC radio recording of the performance of Boris Godunov given at the Royal Opera Covent Garden on 10 June 1961 under Goodall’s baton, he does not list it in his discography of the conductor’s work in the same volume. It was in the event — with the exception of a single performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Golden Cockerel — the last conducting engagement undertaken by Goodall at Covent Garden for ten years. When he next appeared in the pit at the Royal Opera to conduct Parsifal – a BBC recording of one of those performances has already emerged on CD – he had already established his reputation as a Wagnerian. But he had always enjoyed critical approval for his interpretation of Boris, and the appearance of another opera in the sparse representation of Goodall on disc is to be wholeheartedly welcomed.