Emilio de Gogorza
Baritone: Selected Recordings

52068-2 (2 CDs)  | $ 36.00


Emilio de Gogorza
Emilio de Gogorza was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1874 of Spanish parents. He began his singing studies in Spain and sang in many languages including French, Italian, Spanish, and English. Owing to severe myopia, de Gogorza did not appear on the operatic stage, though he did have a major career as a concert singer. In fact, he made his debut in a concert with Marcella Sembrich in 1897. He lived and taught in New York, as well as in Philadelphia, where he taught at the Curtis Institute of Music. He was married for a time to soprano, Emma Eames, and although their marriage did not last, they remained life-long friends. Being one of the most prolific recording artists of his time, his many records have placed de Gogorza firmly in the pantheon of first ranking baritones. He used his voice skillfully and his impeccable diction made him especially well-suited to the acoustic recording process. This best of de Gogorza compilation will cover his recording career from 1900 to 1928, including several brown wax Edison cylinders issued under the name Senior Francisco. The set will conclude with the record which de Gogorza considered his personal favorite, Debussy's Voici que le Printemps recorded in 1928.

CD 1 [79:38]

Operatic Arias and Duets
1.IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA: Largo al factotum (Rossini)3:58
 8 March 1909; (C-6867-1) 88181 
2.DON GIOVANNI: Deh, vieni alla finestra (Mozart)1:54
 3 September 1913; (C-13721-1) 88447 
3.LE NOZZE DI FIGARO: Crudel, perchè finora (Mozart)2:58
 with Emma Eames, soprano6 April 1909; (C-6967-1) 89023 
4.LA SONNAMBULA: Vi ravviso, o luoghi ameni (Bellini)2:56
 9 June 1904; (B-1453-1) 1342 
5.RIGOLETTO: Pari siamo (Verdi)4:10
 26 May 1908; (C-6235-1) 74110 
6.UN BALLO IN MASCHERA: Eri tu (Verdi)4:33
 20 September 1911; (C-9677-2) 88324 
7.PAGLIACCI: Si può? [Prologo] (Leoncavallo)5:30
 7 June 1904; (B-1430A-1/B-1430B-1) 2822/2823 
8.HAMLET: Ô vin, dissipe la tristesse [Chanson bachique] (Thomas)3:25
 26 May 1908; (C-6236-1) 74114 
9.HAMLET: Doute de la lumiere (Thomas)4:11
 with Marcella Sembrich, soprano9 October 1907; (C-4871-1) 89010 
10.CARMEN: Votre toast [Chanson du toréador] (Bizet)2:35
 with New York Grand Opera Chorus11 June 1906; (C-3449-4) 74046  
11.LE ROI DE LAHORE: Promesse de mon avenir (Massenet)3:34
 7 April 1909; (C-6968-2) 88172 
12.HÉRODIADE: Divine volupté …Vision fugitive (Massenet)4:07
 2 February 1909; (C-6115-4) 88153  
13.PANURGE: Chanson de la Touraine (Massenet)2:16
 3 January 1919; (B-22497-1) 64862 
14.PATRIE: Jadis elles chantaient [Air du sonneur] (Paladilhe)3:53
 19 September 1911; (C-10997-1) 74229 
15.SAMSON ET DALILA: A moi l’honneur de la vengeance (Vengeance at last) (Saint-Saëns)2:42
 with Louise Homer, contralto25 May 1908; (B-6227-2) 89501  
16.TANNHÄUSER: Da scheinest du ... O du, mein holder Abendstern (Wagner)3:34
 2 February 1909; (C-6764-4) 88154 
Italian Songs
17.Caro mio ben (Giordani)3:28
 13 May 1909; (C-6974-2) 88173 
18.Dormi pure (Scuderi)3:30
 14 May 1909; (C-7084-1) 74047  
19.Comme se canta a Napule (Mario)2:51
 10 November 1914; (B-15369-1) 64479 
20.Lasciali dir, tu m’ami (Quaranta)3:45
 16 December 1920; (B-24737-2) 66046  
21.Mandolinata (Paladilhe)2:48
 28 November 1910; (B-9673-2) 64160 
22.Non è ver (Mattei)4:18
 18 April 1916; (C-15368-2) 74421 
23.Santa Lucia (Cottrau)2:45
 16 May 1927; (BVE-1916-11) 1263-A 

CD 2 [79:23]

Spanish Songs
1.El celoso (Álvarez)2:24
 ca. 1900; (2-minute Edison brown wax cylinder) 12082 
2.Cantares (Álvarez)4:07
 28 November 1911; C-11314-1; 74262 
3.La partida (Álvarez)4:04
 5 September 1913; (C-13726-1) 74360  
4.En calesa (Álvarez)3:00
 11 May 1920; (B-24104-7) 64898 
5.Mi niña (Guetary)4:08
 19 November 1909; (C-8392-1) 74149 
6.La paloma (Yradier)2:21
 12 January 1926; (BVE-1917-6) 1141-A. 
7.La Sevillana (Yradier)2:47
 12 January 1926; (BVE-7-078-6) 1203-A. 
8.A la luz de la luna (Anton and Michelena)2:58
 with Tito Schipa, tenor 8 February 1928; (BVE-38379-4) 1751-A 
9.Rosario de la Aurora (Traditional)3:07
 18 May 1927; (BVE-38039-1) 1294-A  
10.El relicario (Padilla)3:04
 18 May 1927; (BVE-38039-4) 1294-B 
French Songs
11.Bergère légère (Weckerlin)2:00
 4 February 1925; (B-31831-1) 1108-B 
12.Tambourin (Traditional; arranged by Tiersot)2:15
 3 February 1925; (B-31800-2) unpublished 
13.Alleluia d’amour (Faure)4:21
 29 November 1910; (C-9676-1) 74234 
14.Le mariage des roses (Franck)2:39
 18 May 1908; (C-6200-1) first issued on AGSB-69  
15.Le plongeur (Widor)1:59
 18 May 1908; (C-6200-1) first issued on AGSB-69  
16.A Colombine - Sérénade d’Arlequin (Massenet)2:15
 20 May 1902; (pre-matrix B-1401-2) Victor 1401 
17.A toi (Bemberg)2:30
 21 May 1902; (pre-matrix 1406) 1406 
18.Malgré moi (Pfeiffer)2:57
 28 November 1911; (B-11315-1) 64242 
19.Voici que le printemps (Debussy)2:59
 6 April 1928; (BVE-43617-1) first issued on IRCC 72-B 
English Songs
20.SEMELE: Where’er you walk (Handel)4:01
 3 July 1907; (C-4545-2) 74086  
21.When dull care (Traditional, arranged by H. Lane Wilson)2:26
 24 October 1916; (B-18573-3) 64629 
22.Drink to me only with thine eyes (Traditional)3:04
 14 May 1909; (C-7083-1) 74077  
23.Mother o’ mine (Tours)2:25
 18 May 1908; (C-6199-1) 74118 
24.The lark now leaves his wat’ry nest (Parker)1:53
 18 May 1908; (C-6199-1) 74118 
25.The pipes of Pan (Elgar)3:56
 15 April 1915; (C-15900-2) 74438  
26.The clang of the forge (Rodney)2:35
 14 May 1909; (B-7086-1) 64037 
27.In old Madrid (Trotère)3:10
 12 January 1926; (BVE-24103-7) 1179-B 

CD 1:
Languages: Italian [1-7, 17-23]; French [8-14]; English [15]; German [16]
Accompaniments: Tracks 1-3, 5-6, and 8-23 with orchestra; Tracks 4 and 7 with unidentified pianists

CD 2:
Languages: Spanish [1-10]; French [11-19]; English [20-27]
Accompaniments: Tracks 1-3, and 14-19, 23-24 with piano; 4-13, 20-22, and 25-27 with orchestra

All Tracks were recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company except CD 2, Track 1


Producers: Lawrence F. Holdridge and Ward Marston

Audio Conservation: Ward Marston

Photos: Girvice Archer, Gregor Benko, and Charles Mintzer

Audio Assistance: J. Richard Harris

Booklet Design: Takeshi Takahashi

Marston would like to thank Gregor Benko, Luc Bourrousse, Rudi van den Bulck, Ramona Fassio, Lawrence F. Holdridge, and Jeffrey Miller for their help in the production of this CD release.


Once it was perfected and widely available, it took about a quarter century for Edison’s phonograph to transform itself from an amazing toy into an entirely new kind of musical instrument. In those same years, about 1900 to 1925, Emilio de Gogorza was a leading concert and oratorio baritone, perhaps the leading baritone. Luckily for posterity, he was at the right place at the right time, and his connection to the newly-established Victor Talking Machine Company was a key factor that was crucial to the acceptance of sound recording as more than a mere novelty.

Emilio Eduardo de Gogorza was born in Brooklyn, New York on 29 May 1874; hard facts about his background are missing. He told his pupil Max de Schauensee that his American birth was purely by chance, that his family ran a shipping line and his pregnant mother was duåe to deliver when the boat she was traveling on arrived in Brooklyn.

De Gogorza was registered at the Spanish consulate by his parents as a Spanish citizen. One source gives his father’s occupation as a real estate agent in Brooklyn; another supposedly connects him, through his mother, to Spanish nobility and in some unidentified way to British aristocracy, yet another one claims the family was of Cuban origin.

Two months after their son’s birth, the family returned to Cadiz, Spain. Both parents were great fans of opera, and his father traveled from Cadiz to Milan to attend the premiere of Verdi’s Otello in 1887. Of his mother, de Gogorza told de Schauensee: “She adored Patti; when Patti was singing, if you had stuck a pin into my mother, she would not have felt it.” The family’s culture was international, more French than Spanish. At the age of eleven, Emilio was sent to England to study at the Brompton Oratory choir school, where he sang as a soprano and was encouraged in his musical talent by the Duke of Norfolk. Apparently the legendary Spanish singer Julian Gayarre (1844–1890) was the soloist with the choir at least once, and the youth had the opportunity to hear and work with the creator of Enzo in Ponchielli’s La Gioconda, reputed to be the greatest Italianate tenor of the nineteenth century. De Gogorza remembered that he had “a very high voice with wonderful breath control but a decided vibrato.”

He completed his general education in Paris and then began vocal lessons in Pau (southern France) with Giulia Sanchioli, a noted contralto of an earlier era. In 1895, he came to New York to continue vocal training there with Cleito Moderati and Emilio Agramonte. An 1897 concert debut, as an assisting artist to Marcella Sembrich, is cited, but de Gogorza recalled that his debut was at the Salle Erard (Paris) at the age of twenty-one, which would have been shortly before his trip to New York. As he lost all of his memorabilia (“everything I had”) in a fire at sea in 1917, a casualty of the First World War, he had little confirming information when questioned in later years. He returned to France, probably late in 1897, where he prepared further under Emile Bourgeois of the Opèra-Comique, returning to America around 1899. From then the focus of his career was North America, and he eventually established United States citizenship.

The normal state of events for him might then have been a debut in opera, and he was offered contracts by Maurice Grau for the Met, at Covent Garden through H. V. Higgins, and the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. De Gogorza said that he actually did appear on the operatic stage at the Harlem Opera House, New York City, but was precluded from continuing because of his poor vision. In a 1936 letter to William Seltsam of the International Record Collector’s Club, de Gogorza revealed, “ … I am so shortsighted that without glasses I was lost, couldn’t see the conductor or my fellow artists at a distance of a few feet! The tragedy of my life!!! Toscanini suffers from the same impediment but fortunately he doesn’t have to act. We all have our troubles but mine was a nightmare, for possessing repertoire, facility, voice and a real acting gift I had to abstain and devote myself to concert!!! I have had much compensation but I always felt that I had missed out but nevertheless I am thankful for my blessings!!!”

In public forums, however, de Gogorza claimed that the career of a concert singer was more challenging, implying that the decision was made by choice. A 1909 clipping from an unidentified source discussed the question: “It has been said of de Gogorza that he feels no call to the operatic stage because, to him, every number he sings is an opera in itself. And so it seems as one listens to his song. Operas have their dull passages, in which the inspiration of the composer has waned and paled. But there are no dull places in Mr. de Gogorza’s program[s]”. Elsewhere de Gogorza stated: “In opera, the voice needs to be concentrated and more or less uniform. … To fill [an opera house] the voice must be strong and continually concentrated, dans le masque. The delicate little effects that the concert singer is obliged to produce would not be heard over the footlights. In order to retain interest without the assistance of scenery and action the concert singer’s interpretive work must be marked by an attention to detail that the opera singer rarely considers. The voice, therefore, requires a different treatment. It must be so finely trained that it becomes susceptible to the most delicate change of thought in the singer’s mind. This demands a really enormous amount of work.”

His repertoire was huge and included Spanish, French, Italian, German, and English songs and arias, all of which he sang with virtually a native fluency. As a Musical America reviewer commented in 1919, “Mr. de Gogorza has more than a very beautiful voice: he has brains, experience, poise, magnetism and other qualities that go to make up the ideal song recitalist. …”

How did the de Gogorza voice sound in the house? In a 1911 Chicago review, Maurice Rosenfeld described it: “That he chooses the light compositions of the French and Spanish rather than the heavier works of the German romanticists shows particularly where his strength lies, for his is not an organ of massive volume, nor is it adapted to great depths of passion. The sunny and airy phrases of song have in him a faithful exponent.” Another described his voice as “ … most beautiful, round toned, velvet smooth, of virile fascination, and warmly colored with the glow of that marvelous temperament which makes of the simplest ballad … a message which finds its way to the inmost [sic] heart and soul. …” Mentioned in many reviews was the baritone’s gift for languages and clarity of diction. “His pronunciation is an exquisite delight,” wrote a Musical Courier reviewer of a 1911 Maine recital. “Even the English, which is a foreign language to him, becomes glorified as he enunciates it, lingeringly, as if every letter were a joy.” Richard Aldrich’s review in The New York Times 22 November 1920 of de Gogorza’s recital of the day before was a rave any performer could only dream of receiving: “ … a salutary lesson … an inspiration in its showing of what finished art, a comprehensive understanding of style, fine technical acquirements and understanding, persuasive in the pursuit of high artistic ideals, can accomplish. … Such a lesson and such an inspiration are needed in this day and generation … an unceasing delight from beginning to the end … on account of the beauty, the perfection of his performance.” Aldrich reported that at about three quarters through the recital de Gogorza had asked the public to excuse him, since he had a cold. “There was very little or no trace of it in the singing. There was scarcely a cloud upon his tones; and the consummate skill of his mechanism was enough to get the better of any disorder. … The impeccable vocal production, the skillful use of diverse tonal qualities and colors, the beauty of phrasing and the finished enunciation that marked Mr. De Gogorza’s singing were a delight to his listeners. They and the intensely musical quality of his singing are such as only a great artist, a great master, can offer.”

De Gogorza was one of the earliest artists to record, initially under various noms de disque such as Ed Franklin, M. Fernand, Herbert Goddard, and Carlos Francisco. (“My mother’s first name was Francisca, hence Francisco” he once wrote.) He first made commercial recordings around 1900, appearing on a variety of labels, and finally settled down in 1904 as the in-house baritone for the Victor Talking Machine Company. In two articles in Opera News (November 1937) he wrote: “My association with the Gramophone began with the century … after a conversation with a man named ‘Cal’ Stewart, who was recording ‘Uncle Josh’ stories … he mentioned the Berliner Gramophone as the instrument of the future and on request gave me the address of this firm in Philadelphia. I was promptly engaged for a singing date at the fee of $2.50 a record.”

De Gogorza was perfect for the early recording industry, first because of his voice, a vibrant and virile baritone of wide range and ample power, and his good diction, as well as his flexibility in terms of literature, waxing not just operatic selections and semi-classics, but also popular songs of all kinds. He was master of many styles, especially admired in music of the French and Spanish schools, but he had a gift of lending distinction to simple home songs and popular selections. In his correspondence with Seltsam, de Gogorza reminisced about making pioneer cylinder recordings for Gianni Bettini: “Those records were friendly experiments. Some of them date from 1896 or earlier and his estate must have sold them … he did get the best artists of the day to sing phrases and in some cases entire songs or arias, the latter with cuts … we had charming moments at Bettini’s studio in lower Fifth Avenue where the cream of the Metropolitan congregated. …” In response to Seltsam’s query about a Bettini cylinder of Jean de Reszke, de Gogorza replied: “The cylinder was only a line from Romeo et Juliette by Gounod, which J. de R. recorded.”

His Opera News articles continued: “The Berliner Gramophone became subsequently the Victor Talking Machine Company of Camden, New Jersey, and Mr. Calvin Child, who made the records for Berliner and all the engagements with the artists, became Director. … One day … he broached the subject in regard to branching out, as the European companies were beginning to do, and engaging prominent operatic artists. He asked me whether I would undertake the role of impresario. The stipend was negligible. … My duties were also to pose the artists before the horn, in other words to gauge the vibration of their tones and their carrying power and thus prevent blasting. Among the artists who recorded while I was present or took charge of the dates, were Calvé, Eames, Homer, Farrar, Melba, Sembrich, Caruso, Scotti, Journet, Plançon, Gilibert, and Campanari. … Very few were enthusiastic when listening to their voices. …”

Added to his other talents, de Gogorza’s writing style was absorbing: “ … A never forgotten friend and artist was Pol Plançon, the famous basso cantante. … He was very chary about making records … he inquired about the fees and finally decided he would consider the matter and write me, which he never did. A few days later I found him at Martin’s restaurant … he sat next to a looking glass in a corner near the entrance and frequently threw furtive glances in the mirror. When he saw me he upbraided me for having neglected him, and ironically asked if the talking machine had broken down, to which I answered at cross purposes, saying ‘You look beautiful.’ This was a happy remark for he perked up like a peacock showing off his feathers, saying ‘I knew that’ … His first records were preceded by a sumptuous luncheon at Martin’s, where a bottle of claret and several brandies were consumed by my artist. … To my amazement he became very nervous rehearsing ... often repeating, ‘At my age this is not dignified and I am certain my voice will not record.’ … I refrained from contradicting him. Instead, he was thanked effusively, to which he replied dryly, ‘Where is my fee?’ … There are many episodes I could recount about this great artist and dear person. … Would he could have recorded his fantastic rendering of the waltz song from Dinorah, in falsetto! He often regaled me with this astonishing feat, and each time he did it for me, it seemed more fantastic. No prima donna could equal his pearly execution or trill. …”

De Schauensee remembered: “Gogorza thought there never had been such a singer as Plançon, who was his God.”

De Gogorza had favorites among the women singers too: “ … My dear and beloved friend Marcella Sembrich was the queen of classical soubrettes. … Rhythm was in her soul, as well as musicality. When singing before the horn she appeared nervous but was always controlled. … The records of the time of which I am speaking were sometimes slightly above the pitch at which they were sung or played, I can visualize Marcella Sembrich’s look of astonishment when she heard her first recordings and I can also hear her rapid exchanges with Wilhelm Stengel, her husband, in Polish. I divined the gist of the discussion and promised her it could be remedied by playing the records at a lower revolution. It gave her a turn to hear ‘La Sembrich’ being reproduced in a different key. Most singers wouldn’t have known the difference, or cared. … On one occasion she was emphatic in her displeasure. With Emma Calvé I had a most amusing experience. She arrived at the Fifth Avenue Laboratory one afternoon and began her séance with the Air du Mysoli from Félicien David’s opera La Perle du Brésil. There was a rehearsal mezza voce which went very well. Then the recording began. When she came to a very high note, which she took in semi-falsetto or overtone, lo and behold she broke! She stopped, looked around, made a dramatic gesture and fixed her eyes on me. ‘There is a bad influence at work here and I fear it is you, my dear, you must leave the room.’ I did so, retiring to the office outside. She tried again, with the same results. Then she sent someone to ask me to leave the building, but in spite of all precautions the record was not made. A few days later she returned and sang her aria perfectly, the ‘bad influence’ remaining in the room! After this successful engagement, I invited her to luncheon and she chose the Claremont, near Grant’s Tomb, but insisted on a chaperone, as she said I was a dangerous man!!! The drive to the Claremont was made in a landau and luncheon began at three o’clock. She was a brilliant conversationalist but at that period the occult interested her more than making records, and what her reactions were in regard to her discs I never found out.” Regarding Melba, the great rival of de Gogorza’s wife Emma Eames, he wrote that she was “ ... perfectly at ease before the horn … another God-given voice but hardly a pure coloratura. She had volume, and she could have sung heavier roles had she possessed a warmer temperament; her medium voice, however, was white in quality, therefore it would have hampered her, and she remained a light soprano although she seldom sang higher than D above the staff.” And of Eames herself, he wrote: “Madame Emma Eames was the most perfect of ensemble singers. She respected the composer. Her vocal line was as perfect as that of an instrumental virtuoso. She made some valuable recordings but her voice was so highly placed that at the time it was difficult to record her ... it is a pity that an artist of such attainments could not have recorded more frequently. … As Marcella Sembrich remarked in one of my last visits to her: ‘Eames has never been replaced.’”

De Gogorza never mentions in the 1937 articles that he and Eames were married, nor that they had been separated amicably for five years. New Yorkers will know that Calvé’s choice of a restaurant for lunch was miles north of the Victor recording studio at Fifth Avenue and 27th Street, despite the fact that there were many fine restaurants close by. What an elegant way to let us know that Calvé was a handful, and that he considered Eames superior to Melba—how one wishes he had written a long, revealing memoir!

About the great Caruso de Gogorza wrote: “This brings me to the real beginning of the Red Seal catalogue, viz, the advent of Enrico Caruso, whom I persuaded to sing for the Victor … he was very evasive, indefinite, and badly advised. Finally he capitulated, but one of his conditions was that I should call for him in what he called a ‘carrosse.’ This the Victor Company provided with a vengeance; two men were on the box, and two spanking horses drew the Brewster landau. ...When we arrived at the studio at Carnegie Hall, off came the overcoat and coat and he delivered himself of ten records, with piano accompaniment … Caruso’s voice at that period was pure velvet. It was emitted as though he were speaking, there was no apparent effort, his intake of breath was the quickest I ever observed … everything was at his command. … He was the most conscientious of artists, and saw the artistic merit of recorded music. … His attitude before the horn, when recording, was perfect. No one was needed to guide him ... he put the seal of approval on the Victor records and machine. …” De Gogorza himself had a major hit to rival Caruso’s popularity in 1920 with his Victor recording of the parlor song “Juanita”—his version was still in the Victor catalog in 1940. Another bestseller was “La paloma,” which he first recorded in 1900 (as Carlos Francisco) and again several times subsequently, both as Francisco and under his own name. His 1926 version was still in print as late as 1950.

De Gogorza had married in New York in 1896 and that marriage lasted until soprano Emma Eames entered the picture. In 1905 the baritone and soprano went on a tour together and romance bloomed. Eames had been married to artist Julian Story since 1891, but divorced him in 1907. For several years the papers voyeuristically covered the story of the unfolding Eames-de Gogorza illicit romance, including Mrs. de Gogorza’s thoughts, her lawsuit, and details of the eventual divorce. It was an age when opera stars were international celebrities and the hint of scandal titillated the world. The musical couple were married on 12 July 1911 in Paris, and the next day The New York Times reported that “it was widely rumored that Mme. Eames paid down $100,000 to the first wife. … When last February … de Gogorza was asked about this rumored settlement … he promptly flew into a towering rage and locked himself in his room. … After dinner he felt better and consented to talk … he explained that he was an artist and that he did not ‘bother about mercenary affairs.’” The couple ignored the publicity and went on a joint concert tour that proved very successful.

In their sumptuous Paris home and her mansion in Bath, Maine, the “sunny Mediterranean” baritone and “taciturn diva” may well have been temperamentally somewhat ill suited to one another. Their official relationship continued, however, until an “amicable separation” in 1932. Eames was bitter about the separation and did not refrain from telling friends and associates “hard things about him,” according to de Schauensee Eames was to become a great friend of de Schauensee, who also retained his friendship with his beloved teacher de Gogorza. De Schauensee once told a lecture audience about meeting Eames: “Don Emilio … and I were … to sail for Europe … and he said to me, ‘You must meet Emma; she’s a very extraordinary person. If she likes you she can be a most faithful and wonderful friend. If she does not, God help you; she’s made a fine art out of rudeness. …” Despite the “hard things” she said about her baritone husband, Eames told de Schauensee: “I sang with all the great people of the Golden Age but in some ways I think de Gogorza was the greatest artist of them all. And if you heard him in one of his recitals you were willing to think that this was quite possible.”

In 1925 de Gogorza joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his students included Rose Bampton, Helen Jepson, and Samuel Barber, besides de Schauensee (who went on to become the long-time music critic of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.). By 1936 de Gogorza had fully retired from singing. He was approached by Seltsam to record two new sides. “About recording two numbers for you, the arias by Gluck which are classics” replied de Gogorza, “need orchestral accompaniments and much rehearsing and to be perfectly frank I am entirely out of practice and what with much teaching and displacement I can’t envisage making the effort at present.” New recordings were not made, but Seltsam saw to it that a few unissued Victor masters were released on his I.R.C.C. label. In his last years, de Gogorza taught privately in New York City, where he died at the age of seventy-four on 10 May 1949.

Of all the stars of the Victor Talking Machine Company’s illustrious roster in the 1900s, few left more recordings than Emilio de Gogorza. Certainly of those whose careers were entirely made on the concert stage, he was Victor’s pre-eminent representative. De Gogorza mentioned his favorite record in at least two letters: Debussy’s “Voici que le printemps,” … for it has an artistic flavor which the more popular records do not possess.” Also cited are “Malgré moi” (Pfeiffer) and “Mi niña” (Guetary) as “really fine records.” No doubt listeners to this compilation will have others to add.

© Lawrence F. Holdridge and Gregor Benko, 2011

The voice and the art of Emilio de Gogorza

Emilio de Gogorza—singer, impresario, and husband of Emma Eames. A busy, as well as a brave man. Although he was prevented from singing in opera by a physical disability, records seem to suggest that de Gogorza was one of a select band of distinguished singers who were perfectly satisfactory on the concert platform and on phonograph records but who lacked something the opera house requires—stamina, perhaps.

By studying in Spain and New York, Emilio de Gogorza avoided the decadence of verismo singing without quite reaching the heights of the “old school,” but of that distinguished school he managed to master some important features. His voice is produced with a clear, bell-like tone from the low A to the high G, with an equalized scale and a well developed head register. The tone is always perfectly focused, except on the rare occasions that he forces a high G. His light vibrato is under control, except sometimes when a high tessitura taxes his support. In soft singing the vibrato almost disappears, to be replaced by a more steady, warm, and rounded tone. He is able to sing softly in any part of the scale, and in the upper register his soft singing is of virtuoso quality. When going up the scale to the high notes, he is usually careful to blend his chest and head registers so that the high F and F-sharp are easy, unforced, and attractive. If he tries to overload these high notes they sound hooty or the vibrato becomes agressive. His voice lacks the ability to expand at the top, for the emission is not completely free of the throat. Although not possessing a first-class voice, he is able, with his command of breathing and support, to “bow” a flawless legato line like a great instrumentalist, or like Caruso, Plançon, and Battistini. There is something contrived, not always perfectly natural, about his vowel sounds, which might indicate a stiffness of the tongue. It is a typically Spanish voice, conditioned perhaps by the spoken language, similar in timbre to his compatriots Emilio Sagi Barba and Marcos Redondo, famous baritones who were trained for opera but specialized in zarzuela, and who also display on their records some features of bel canto. If his voice had been just a little more mellow and just a little less guttural he might have stood in the front rank of baritones of his day. As a stylist and interpreter de Gogorza stands very high; his interpretations are carefully studied and full of polished detail, and may safely be taken as models. His pronunciation and his diction are excellent in Spanish, Italian, English, French, and German. In duet singing, with Caruso, Eames, or Sembrich, he seems to reach even greater heights, listening attentively to his colleagues and matching his seamless legato with theirs. To the lover of bel canto, his duet from Hamlet with an inspired Marcella Sembrich is thrilling indeed. His record of “Vi ravviso” from La sonnambula is clearly modeled on Plançon’s masterpiece of 1903; he may have been standing next to the great French bass when he sang this aria into the recording horn, and de Gogorza reproduces with true elegance all Plançon’s expressive portamenti. Most of his records are worth hearing and some of them have been favorites of mine since I first began to collect old records. In many songs and arias de Gogorza’s thoroughly finished performances are among the very best recorded versions.

He is heard at his most expressive and seductive in some arias by Massenet. After a masterly reading of the introductory recitative “Divine volupté” he embarks on a picturesque and sensual “Vision fugitive,” in which, as always, he carefully observes all the composer’s markings in the score. He cannot compete with Renaud and Battistini in the taxing, sustained fortissimo singing at the conclusion, where his voice becomes tired and choked. He also knows exactly how “Promesse de mon avenir” should go, and the record is full of lovely details, for example the clean, soft attacks on the upper D-flat, the skillful use of the head voice on the E-flat, and the diminuendo at the end. The air from Panurge offers some exemplary legato singing. In the “Chanson bachique” from Hamlet he skillfully darkens the tone for the middle section, then bursts into a cadenza with a flair reminiscent of Battistini, though he does not attempt the trill. He sings the Serenade from Don Giovanni with true nineteenth-century elegance. “Largo al factotum,” an ebullient, well characterized and likeable performance, betrays a not quite thorough preparation when he comes to the triplets, which are caught in the throat, and not all the words are there in the final patter. “Pari siamo” from Rigoletto is surprisingly effective, with some insinuating soft phrases. “Eri tu” from Un ballo in maschera is an even more detailed performance; he has obviously studied Battistini’s record and adopts quite a lot of the master’s phrasing and rubato. The hushed opening of “O dolcezze perdute” is particularly lovely, he achieves a diminuendo on the high F of “seno” and even the high G is unforced. He deals with the Pagliacci Prologue in a manner that reveals his artistry and intelligence; where Leoncavallo requires a “speaking” effect, de Gogorza uses a parlando style, but wherever there is a melody to sing, he switches back into his loving legato. His honeyed, softly pinging attack on “Un nido di memorie” and “E voi piuttosto” might be a model for any baritone. The “O du, mein holder Abendstern” from Tannhäuser, in deliciously limpid German, is one of the finest among recorded versions. He is mostly singing softly, with a flowing line and intense but pearly timbre. Both he and Louise Homer sing very well, with clear tone and tellingly paced rhythm, in the last part only of a duet from Samson et Dalila, a souvenir perhaps of some festival performance but an odd choice for a record. In a class by itself is the distinguished husband-and-wife duo (though they were not yet married in 1909) in “Crudel, perchè finora,” from Le nozze di Figaro. It is true that Emma Eames sounds slightly forbidding, but what a treat to hear this music sung by such a full and radiantly beautiful voice. Susanna was never her role, but she often sang the Countess with Sembrich and sometimes conducted by Mahler: her thrilling attack and her lovely variations must have been copied from Sembrich and the Vienna traditions. Emilio, in mellifluous voice, strikes the perfect note in his aristocratic wooing of a majestic Susanna.

The song recordings begin with an excellent “Caro mio ben” (an aria attributed to Handel in a score in the Santa Cecilia library, Rome, that was brought to Italy from London by Pacchierotti and later belonged to the tenor Mario de Candia). Although the vibrato is strongly in evidence, the voice never becomes gritty on the lower notes, and de Gogorza offers a lovely diminuendo leading into a tastefully ornamented da capo. This is indeed a good beginning, but the next song, the serenade “Dormi pure,” is even more delightful, with lovely tone and a seductive manner. The ornaments are cleanly articulated and on the last repeat of “dormi,” on an ascending figure C-D-E-flat, he executes a virtuoso diminuendo.

The infectious rhythm and caressing style of “Comme se canta a Napule,” the eloquence of “Lasciali dir, tu m’ami,” a fine song by the forgotten Francesco Quaranta, and the memorable softer phrases in “Non è ver” stand out among these Italian song records. In the “Mandolinata” of Paladilhe, a delightful song, his spontaneous manner and light, insinuating laughter help to explain the extraordinary popularity of this song ca., 1870. This group concludes with a nice “Santa Lucia,” recorded electrically, in which a slight touch of wear on the timbre in no way impedes the flow of the legato or the ambitious diminuendo on the high E.

The Spanish songs, of course, are masterly interpretations, especially if they do not go too quickly for him. In the earlier records the voice is more limpid, but this may partly be the fault of Victor, whose records became rather tinny and sometimes distorted as the technicians searched for volume rather than tone quality. Although in the electric recordings the voice becomes clutched and throaty whenever he tries any florid Spanish vocalization, they are mostly very agreeable, and he even manages, in his cheval de bataille “La paloma,” to make us forget his masterly rendition of 1906 with some new virtuoso patter effects. “El relicario” has always seemed to me an irresistible performance of a very catchy tune, a “desert-island disc”. These jolly dance-tune numbers contrast with the deeply touching, darkened tones of the religious song “Rosario de la Aurora”

In the French and English songs de Gogorza is never guilty of any error of style. He sings “Bergère légère” with the lightness and grace of Edmond Clément, and “Alleluia d’amour” features some neat florid singing. “Malgré moi” is very successful and the electric recording of “Voici que le printemps” is full of beguiling detail—“une chanson touchante” indeed. A feature of the old record catalogues was the apparent bargain in which some singer sang two songs on one side. Eames and de Gogorza made an interesting group of these on 18 May 1908, though the success of the session was compromised by the engineers, perhaps inadvertently, having set the motor of the recording machine at 72 rpm. Particularly memorable is the side on which Emilio offers the dramatic “Mother o’mine” by Rudyard Kipling and Berthold Tours, followed by Horatio Parker’s setting of Davenant’s “The lark now leaves his wat’ry nest,” the best example of his facility in florid singing. On the next matrix he sings appealingly songs by Franck and Widor, but here we feel the lack of contrast between the two songs. “Drink to me only with thine eyes” was always one of his most commonly found records, and I have had a copy since 1958. Listening to it again, after many years, and with more experienced ears, I can only marvel at the very highly polished quality of De Gogorza’s singing. The words, impeccably pronounced, all float on the breath in a perfectly controlled legato. All the attacks are limpid and “in the mask,” even if, occasionally, he is unable to maintain the perfect placing of this attack and the voice falls slightly back to a guttural sound. There are some beautifully poised high notes in this performance. Despite the obvious care that has gone into the study of this song, the total effect is of a divine simplicity. The art that conceals art! (or almost). “Where’er you walk” shows off his legato singing, and in “When dull care”—another great song—he keeps an unbroken line through a melody abounding in awkward intervals and leaps. Although he has fully grasped the dramatic nature of “The pipes of Pan” and “The clang of the forge” and goes at them with great gusto, they overtax his vocal resources and at the climaxes the tone sounds throaty. In contrast, he is comfortable with a song like “In old Madrid,” an attractive electric recording, alive with vocal color and displaying his springy and elastic sense of rhythm.

Emma Eames is reported to have told a record collector that, though it was indeed a pity that “Jean” (Jean de Reszke) had made no records, Emilio’s singing was practically the same thing. One cannot help thinking that love somewhat swayed her judgment, but on the other hand Emilio de Gogorza’s records do demonstrate that hard work and lofty artistic goals can produce results of a very high standard, even though the singer has not been endowed with a voice of ravishing beauty. Every one of the records reproduced here will demonstrate authentic nineteenth-century performance style, especially in matters of tempo rubato and portamento di voce, and so could serve as a model for those students wanting to learn how to perform not only what the composers wrote down in the score, but also what they did not write.

© Michael Aspinall, 2011