Edison Voice Trials
Voice Audition Cylinders of 1912-1913

52025-2 (2 CDs)  | $ 36.00


Edison Voice Trials
In 1912, Thomas A. Edison conducted a European talent search designed to recruit vocal artists for his record company. Over three hundred cylinders of some of Europe's greatest singers were recorded and sent back to the United Sates for Edison's personal review. Before these canisters were opened last year, Thomas Edison was the last person to hear these 1912-1913 cylinders. They represent not only some of the only recorded examples of certain European singers active during this period, but are arguably the most vivid of any acoustic recordings.
CD 1 (79:09)
FULGENZIO ABELA [te] (Barcelona, 1880- ? )
1.MANON: Ah! fuyez, douce image (Massenet) [It.]2:12
 Abela’s family moved to Buenos Aires during the tenor’s formative years. He studied there with the Spanish conductor Ivan Goula (who also taught, among others, Blanchart, Viñas, and Palet). Abela’s first performances seem to have been in Buenos Aires in Lucrezia Borgia and Dolores (Bretón). The same year he appeared at the Liceo, Barcelona, in La Favorita and Mefistofele. During the following two decades he sang with considerable success in Italy (Torino, Trevisio, the Dal Verme in Milano, Genova, the Costanzi in Roma and so on) as well as at the Colón in Buenos Aires (1910), Chile, Spain, and Greece. Abela’s repertoire included the principal tenor roles in La Traviata, Adriana Lecouvreur, Rigoletto, Tosca, Faust, Boris Godounov, Amico Fritz, and a number of other operas and zarzuelas. His last years were spent in Buenos Aires. No other recordings of Abela’s voice have been traced, although the Edison files, which give his age as 34 at the time of the recording (2 July 1912), mention that he “made a few records for a German company”.
MARISKA ALDRICH [so] (Boston, 1881-California, 1965)
2.Arpeggios 1:01
MARISKA ALDRICH [so] (Boston, 1881-California, 1965)
3.Magasan Repül a Daru, Szépen Szál ((Hungarian Folk Song)) 1:36
 Aldrich studied in Paris with Giraudet and London with Henschel, as well as with several other teachers, making her debut at Covent Garden, 1901, as the Witch in Hansel und Gretel. She was then traced to the Manhattan Opera, first heard there as Urbain in Les Huguenots (with Agostinelli, Zenatello, Sammarco, and Arimondi). She was with the Met, 1909-11, in mezzo roles such as Azucena, Lola, Fricka, and Naoia (in Converse’s The Pipe of Desire). In 1910 Aldrich sang in a concert performance of Les Troyens (Berlioz) in Cincinnati with Louise Homer, Corinne Rider-Kelsey, Evan Williams, Dan Beddoe, and Herbert Witherspoon. Later she was heard in Wagnerian dramatic roles such as Brünnhilde (which she had been booked to sing at Bayreuth, 1914, the festival however having been suspended because of the First World War). She and her husband, Congressman J. Frank Aldrich, had several children, and possibly her attention to familial duties prevented her career from developing to the fullest. A few years before her death she was a guest on the television show, This Is Your Life in tribute to her colleague, Marguerita Sylva. Aldrich appears not to have recorded other than these two Edison trials. Before the final arpeggio she asks, in German, “Genung?” (Enough?).
4.LE CID: Pleurez mes yeux (Massenet) 1:30
 A pupil at the Paris Conservatoire of M. Guillamat, Allix was awarded 1er accessit de Chant upon her graduation in 1913. Five years later she made her debut at the Paris Opéra in Mademoiselle de Nantes. She also sang Aida, Marguerite in Faust, and participated in several premieres, including the role of Alice Ford in the Paris Opéra’s first Falstaff (1922). At the Trocadéro she sang Tosca in 1922, as well as Françoise in Bruneau’s L’Attaque du Moulin. She seems to have made no commercial recordings. As in the case with several other Edison French trial artists, the recording of Allix was made shortly after she was graduated from the Paris Conservatoire.
ADELAIDE ANDREYEVA VON SKILONDZ [so] (St. Petersburg, 1882-Stockholm, 1969)
5.LA TRAVIATA: Ah, fors’ è lui; Sempre libera (Verdi) 2:17
 Having studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, Skilondz made her debut at the Mariinsky Theater in 1904. Among her great successes in Russia was the creation of the role of the Queen of Shemakha (who sings the memorable “Hymn to the Sun”) in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Le coq d’or at the Zimin Opera, 1909. Appearing at the Berlin Hofoper until the beginning of World War I in a variety of principal coloratura roles, she subsequently became established in Sweden, first as a leading soprano at the Stockholm Opera and then as a concert singer and voice teacher. Her pupils included Elisabeth Söderström, Kerstin Meyer and Kim Borg. Skilondz made recordings for the German Gramophone Company, Pathé, Parlophon, Ariel and one electrical disc for the Swedish branch of HMV. The Edison trial may be her only recording in Italian.
FANNY ANITUA [ms] (Mexico, 1887-Mexico City, 1968)
6.LA FAVORITA: O mio Fernando (Donizetti) 1:48
 Trained in Italy, Anitua made her debut as Gluck’s Orfeo. For over two decades she was heard in the principal Italian houses as well as in Spain and North and Central America. Her repertoire included such roles as Cenerentola and Carmen, and at La Scala, 1916, she took part in the world premiere of Pizzetti’s Fedra. This important artist recorded for Italian Columbia in the 1913-15 period.
7.L’ELISIR D’AMORE: Una furtiva lagrima (Donizetti) 2:08
8.Tristezza ((Tosti)) 2:04
 Not much has been discovered on Baracchini other than that he sang at the San Carlo in Naples, substituting for tenor Aristodemo Giorgini in La Sonnambula. No recordings of his voice are known other than these trials.
AMLETO BARBIERI [ba] (Pisa, 1883-New York, 1957)
9.TANNHÄUSER: O du mein holder Abendstern (Wagner) [It.]2:13
 A pupil of Lelio Casini, Barbieri made his debut at the Politeama in Pisa as Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera. His career encompassed many Italian houses, including La Scala, where in 1914 he sang the role of Rinuccio in the world premiere of Alfano’s L’Ombra di Don Giovanni. He also made guest appearances in Spain and Austria. After World War I, Barbieri emigrated to the United States and appeared in opera with smaller companies in the New York area, the more important performances having been Iago to Paoli’s Otello and Amonasro with Iva Pacetti as Aida at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1922. His repertoire ran from Alberich (Götterdämmerung) through Jack Rance (La Fanciulla del West). A few Pathé records listed in Girard & Barnes as by Emilio Barbieri are probably by this artist. Hearing this cylinder, Edison made the sort of comment observed throughout his notebooks: “An agravating [sic] tremolo kills his voice. No.”
10.AIDA: O patria mia (Verdi) 2:02
 Battaglioli’s earliest traced performance was at the Teatro Nuovo, Spoleto, 1905, as Micaela in Carmen. Subsequent performances included seasons in Novara (where she sang Santuzza) and in Barcelona at the Bosque Theater. In 1910 she wed tenor Vincenzo Leotti (another Edison trial artist for whom only arpeggios exist). In 1912 she sang at the Mercadante in Cerignola as Fedora, in company with her husband. Recordings were made by Battaglioli for the Italian Gramophone Company, Favorite, and Phonodisc Mondial. She is also quoted in Edison’s notes as having recorded for Fonotipia. These recordings, all pre-dating her Edison trial, were under her maiden name, Battaglioli, and as she does not appear in a 1915 Italian artists’ directory, she may have retired to raise a family. Edison gave her trial a more positive review than most: “Very little tremolo –Even and fairly pure scale ... Could only use her in emergency – she is best so far but not very promising.”
ANGELO BENDINELLI [te] (Pisa, 1876-Livorno, 1942)
11.Mattinata (Leoncavallo) 2:05
 Bendinelli, a student of Cortesi in Pisa and Giacchetti in Firenze, made his debut at the Teatro San Marco in Rossini’s Stabat Mater. Subsequent operatic appearances took place thoughout Italy, including Bologna, Mantova, Venezia, and included principal parts in operas such as Rigoletto, Sonnambula, Amico Fritz, Pacchierotti’s Eidelberga Mia!, Iris, and Manon. Success was also attained in Cairo, Montevideo, and Buenos Aires. Recordings of Bendinelli were made for the Italian Columbia Company and the Italian Gramophone Company in the 1912-13 period.
MARGHERITA BEVIGNANI [so] (1887-Milano, 1921)
12.LA SONNAMBULA: Come per me sereno (Bellini) 2:17
 Bevignani’s debut took place in 1909 at the Politeama Garibaldi in Treviso as Micaela, following a period of study with Mo. Perilli. She was subsequently heard in Brescia and Bari, and later toured South America, having particularly great success, in Argentina and Chile. In 1918 she was diagnosed with tuberculosis, and this leading to her early death. The operas in which she was noted include Rigoletto, La Sonnambula, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Lucia, and La Traviata. Recordings of Bevignani were made for Favorite and the Italian Gramophone Company (including Violetta in a complete La Traviata, 1915). 
LÉON BEYLE [te] (Lyon, 1875-1922)
13.WERTHER: Pourquoi me réveiller (Massenet) 2:13
 A student of the conservatories at Lyon and Paris, Beyle made his Paris Opéra debut in 1897 as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni. His career there comprised more than forty roles including Florestan, Tamino, Turiddu, and Pinkerton, but it was as Werther that he was particularly identified. He also appeared throughout the French provinces. Beyle made a number of records for the French Gramophone Company and Pathé. His Edison trial has the unfortunate distinction of singer and accompanist parting company during the second strophe.
PAUL BLANCARD [bs] (Toulon, 1869- ? )
14.Unidentified French Aria/Song 2:13
 Blancard was originally a medical student, but in working with a teacher at the Paris Conservatoire he decided to prepare for an operatic career. Beginning 1894 as a performer in a number of French theaters and salons, he made his debut at la Monnaie, Brussels, in 1896 as Nilakanta to Landouzy’s Lakmé, and sang several other roles there with considerable success, returning for the 1906-08 seasons. 1897-98 he appeared at the Théâtre Français in the Hague, 1899-1900 at Marseille, and then with the opera at Lyon. His Opéra-Comique debut was as Don Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, 1908, with Korsoff, Francell, Vigneau, and Allard. Blancard’s repertoire was large, including a number of contemporary works, several premieres, and the principal bass roles in such operas as Mignon, Aida, Roméo et Juliette, Faust, and Manon. No other recordings of his voice have thus far been traced, nor has the music he selected for his Edison trial as yet been identified.
EBE BOCCOLINI-ZACCONI [so] (Ancona, 1889- ? )
15.MEFISTOFELE: L’altra notte (Boïto) 1:57
 Studying in Bologna with Giordano Russo, Boccolini first came to attention as Nedda (Pagliacci) at the Politeama in Pisa, 1906. Despite her youth, she was soon heard in a number of Italian houses in roles such as Charlotte in Werther, Wally, Manon, Madama Butterfly, Conchita (Zandonai), Desdemona, and Tosca. Her career encompassed most of the Italian theaters, and she also sang in Holland, Spain and Chile. Her husband was Ermete Zacconi, a noted Italian actor. Boccolini recorded for the Italian Gramophone Company, several of the discs having also been issued by Victor.
GIUSEPPINA BONETTI [ms] (Venice, 1883-Venice, 1963)
16.MIGNON: Connais-tu le pays? (Thomas) [It.]2:31
 A pupil in her native Venice of Mo. Rupnick, Bonetti made her debut in 1905 at the Milano Dal Verme as Mignon. While she was often heard as Carmen, Bonetti had a diverse repertoire, including leading mezzo roles in operas such as Il Voto (Giordano), Jery e Betley (Enrico Romano), Bohème (Leoncavallo), and Cavalleria rusticana (Monleone, rather than the familiar Mascagni version), as well as such standard works as Gioconda, Werther, and Aida. Bonetti was another singer who recorded for the Italian Gramophone Company prior to her Edison trial. 
FRANCESCO MARIA BONINI [ba] (Napoli, 1865-Milano, 1930)
17.LA TRAVIATA: Di Provenza il mar (Verdi) 1:57
 Having studied with Beniamino Carelli in Naples and then Maestro Lombardi, Bonini was first on stage in Foggia, 1896, in Verdi’s La forza del destino. He was then heard in Malta, Cairo, Cremona, Palermo, and Odessa, as well as at the Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires), 1901. In Milan Bonini was Athaniel in the Italian premiere of Massenet’s Thais at the Teatro Lirico and at La Scala in Ponchielli’s I Lituani. In the season of 1911-12, he returned to La Scala as Hans Sachs, Raimondo (Mascagni’s Isabeau) and Idraste (Gluck’s Armida). He interpreted principal baritone roles in a host of operas and was active until the mid-1920s. Bonini’s only recordings were for Fonotipia (some released on Odeon as well) from 1904-1908. 
FRIEDERICH BRODERSEN [ba] (Württemberg, 1873-Krefeld, 1926)
18.KÖNIGSKINDER: Wohin bist du gegangen (Humperdinck) 2:16
 After working as an architect, Broderson studied voice with Heinrich Bertram. His debut was in Nuremburg, 1900. Three years later he received acclaim in Munich, this stage remaining the center of his operatic activities until his death. He was heard in many important productions there, including the world premieres of Wolf-Ferrari’s Le Donne curiose (1903) and Il segreto di Susanna (1909), as well as Korngold’s Violanta (1916) and Pfitzner’s Palestrina (1917). Other German houses featured Brodersen as a guest, and he was successful at Covent Garden as Faninal in the British premiere of Der Rosenkavalier. Brodersen also garnered considerable acclaim as a lieder singer. His voice was captured on the Parlophon, Beka, Homocord, and Pathé labels.
19.NORMA: Solo furtiva (Bellini) 1:39
 The earliest notice located of Brunetto is from the year 1911 at the Comunale of Syracuse (Italy). She performed in Budapest in 1912, switching in 1913 to mezzo repertoire and touring South America with the Cioni Company. In 1920 Brunetto sang in Alexandria at the Alhambra. In later years she was heard in comic roles, most frequently in Wolf-Ferrari’s I Quattro Rusteghi, although her diverse repertoire included parts in Adriana Lecouvreur, Falstaff, Il Matrimonio Segreto (Cimarosa), Guglielmo Tell, I quattro rusteghi and Le Donne curiose (Wolf-Ferrari), and Crispino e la Comare (Fratelli Ricci). She appears not to have made any commercial recordings.
GIORGINA CAPRILE [so] (Firenze, 1880- ? )
20.LA TRAVIATA: Addio del passato (Verdi) 2:20
 Daughter of tenor Uberto Caprile, Giorgina was raised in a musical milieu and studied voice in Milano with Carignani. Her debut was at the Rome Costanzi, February, 1900, in L’Amico Fritz, followed a month later by Mimi in La Bohème. Noted for her acting as well as her beauty, Caprile found her niche in roles requiring particular dramatic skills, such as Tosca, Manon Lescaut, Iris, La Fanciulla del West, La Traviata, Mefistofele, Isabeau, La Wally, and even Salome. In addition to success throughout Italy, she was a favorite in South America, particularly as Violetta, and also appeared in Russia. Caprile recorded for the Italian Gramophone Company on their status Red Label and was also a Fonotipia artist.
ALBERTINA CASSANI [so] (Bologna, 1889- ? )
21.DON PASQUALE: La morale in tutto questo (Donizetti) 1:32
 Cassani, a protege of Regina Pacini, studied in Bologna with Achille Corsi and made her debut in 1905 as Micaela in Carmen. She quickly became established throughout Italy in lyric and coloratura roles. Outside of Italy, Cassini sang at the Liceo in Barcelona (1913 and 1923), in Havana (1919), the Reale in Madrid (1924), and was also active in France, Hungary, Holland, and Malta. After her retirement she established a singing school in her native Bologna. The Edison notebooks give her age in 1912 as 25. Cassani was a relatively prolific recorder prior to her Edison trial, having made discs for Phonodisc Mondial, the Italian Gramophone Company, Parlophon, Lyrophon, and Beka-Era.
22.LAKMÉ: Où va la jeune Hindoue? (Delibes) 2:09
 Reported as having been a student of Frédéric Boyer in France, César began her career in Belgium, singing in Ghent in the 1900-1905 period. She was subsequently heard in Antwerp (where she created de Lara’s Messaline and Cilèa’s Adriana Lecouvreur), Bordeaux, and Lyon. In 1908, César made her Paris Opéra-Comique debut, appearing there in such roles as Manon, Lakmé, Rosina, and Violetta. Soon after, César debuted at Marseille, where she remained until 1918. During this period she wed baritone Julien Lafont. As a guest, she sang frequently in many French houses and also was on the Monte Carlo roster in 1916 as Gounod’s Mireille. César was praised for her “class and delicacy of execution”. “She sings like a nightingale,” stated a Lyon reviewer. Her issued records were a group made for the French Gramophone Company in 1911-12.
23.SIMON BOCCANEGRA: Il lacerato spirito (Verdi) 2:06
 The earliest listings found of Cesari are from 1904, at the Carcano in Milano and the Storchi of Modina as Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. A 1912 directory of singers provides a Milano address for him, but a 1915 edition fails to include his name. No doubt he had a career in the smaller provincial houses in Italy. No other recordings of his voice are known.
24.PARSIFAL: So ward es uns verhiessen (Wagner) [Fr.]1:23
 Born in Bordeaux, a student of Isnardon and a first-prize graduate of the Paris Conservatoire in 1911, Clauzure made his debut at Monte Carlo, 1912, singing Sparafucile in Rigoletto with De Hidalgo, Smirnov and Stracciari and, in the same opera a month later, Monterone with Nezhdanova, Caruso, and Ruffo. Other roles with Monte Carlo include the Souverain Pontife in the premiere of Massenet’s Roma, King Henry in Lohengrin, Fafner in Siegfried, as well as parts in Thaïs and Roméo et Juliette. In 1917 Clauzure appeared in operetta at the Trianon Lyrique (Paris) and at Rouen (1921-23) in several operas, including Faust, Hérodiade, Pelléas et Mélisande, Tosca, and Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame. During the later 1920s he was heard at la Monnaie (Brussels) in several operas, including the French language premiere of Pizzetti’s Debora e Jaele and Prokofiev’s The Gambler. This Edison trial seems to be the solitary surviving example of his voice.
EGIDIO CUNEGO [te] (c.1882-1956)
25.TOSCA: Amaro sol per te; Recondita armonia (Puccini) 2:15
 Cunego’s lengthy career encompassed most of the Italian opera houses. In 1912 he was heard in England where he created the leading tenor role in Leoncavallo’s I Zingari under the composer’s direction, the performances also featuring Rinalda Pavoni and Ernesto Caronna. These were given at the London Hippodrome as part of a twice-a-day variety bill, alternating with Pagliacci (sung by the same cast, who must have had remarkable stamina). As a Gramophone Company artist, Cunego made a number of records in the 1910-11 period, as well as for Italian Columbia around 1913. In the late 1920s he made electrical recordings for Fonotipia. Edison noted a “hard metallic sound thru whole song [sic] – a jingle. I cannot say if this is due to recorder or not. To be sure that I am not turning down a fair voice, you better make a disc record and I will reproduce it in hard material.”
GIACOMO DAMACCO [te] (Bari, 1883-Milano, 1966)
26.MIGNON: Elle ne croyait pas (Thomas) [It.]1:51
GIACOMO DAMACCO [te] (Bari, 1883-Milano, 1966)
27.MIGNON: Ah,que ton âme (Thomas) [It.]1:42
 Damacco made his debut at the Petruzzelli in Bari, 1903. His career, continuing through the 1920s, was primarily in Italy, although he also appeared in Spain and at the Metropolitan in New York. There, during the season of 1915-16, he sang the principal tenor roles in La Sonnambula, La Traviata, La Bohème, and Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Damacco recorded for Phonodisc Mondial and also made one electrical disc of Italian songs for Victor.
28.MIGNON: Connais-tu le pays? (Thomas) [It.]2:11
 Del Lungo’s debut was at the Teatro Unione di Viterbo, 1906. She was subsequently a leading singer at the Khediviale in Cairo for several seasons, in addition to being heard in various Italian houses in operas such as Aida, Carmen, Mignon, Lohengrin, Favorita, and Mascagni’s Parisina, from which she recorded excerpts for Fonotipia. She also appeared on the Artiphon and Phonodisc Mondial labels.
EMMA DRUETTI [so] (Siracusa, 1888- ? )
29.LA WALLY: Ebben? ne andrò lontana (Catalani) 1:57
EMMA DRUETTI [so] (Siracusa, 1888- ? )
30.TOSCA: Vissi d’arte (Puccini) 1:57
 Among the most important of the singers herein who otherwise didn’t record, Druetti studied in Rome at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia under Zaira Falchi and made her debut in 1908 at the Carlo Felice, Genova, in Catalani’s Loreley. In 1911 she sang at La Scala as Adalgisa in Norma opposite Ester Mazzoleni and appeared with the Monte Carlo company at the Paris Opera, 1912, Elena in Mefistofele (with Agostinelli, Smirnov, and Chaliapin). She is listed in a 1912 Italian directory of singers but is missing in a similar 1915 compilation. As with many other female artists of the period, it is possible that her career ended when she married and began a family. Interestingly, however, a performance at the Bologna Comunale of Don Carlos in 1935 includes her name in the cast listings. Edison’s papers provide for the singer the unlikely age of 22 at the time of the trial: 1 July 1912.
PIERRE ERNEST DUPRÉ [ba] (Pau, 1884-1980)
31.LA JOLIE FILLE DE PERTH: Quand la flamme (Bizet) 2:10
 Schooled at the Paris Conservatoire from 1906-1909, Dupré made his Paris Opéra and Opéra-Comique debuts in 1909. Singing dozens of roles in Paris, including a number of creations, Dupré remained active for over thirty seasons. He made a number of recordings for Pathé and several other vertical labels, the French Gramophone Company, as well as electrical sides for Odeon.
32.SALVATOR ROSA: Di sposa, di padre (Gomes) 2:16
 Eck’s voice seems here to be quite a remarkable sonic instrument and it is assumed that he must have had at least a provincial career, although specifically where has not yet been discovered. His nationality would unlikely be Italian, judging from his family name, although the trial was made in Italy in 1912. No singer by the name of “Eck” appears in either the 1912 or 1915 Corriere dei Teatri artist rosters. In addition to performances not having been traced, there seem to be no other recordings of his voice.
33.MANON LESCAUT: In quelle trine morbide (Puccini) 2:18
 A pupil of Paolina Montechiaro in Genova, Emanuelli made her debut in Pisa, 1906, in Giordano’s Fedora. Her repertoire was dramatic, early on including parts such as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana and Maddelena in Andrea Chenier. Emanuelli was Leonora in La Forza del Destino at the Rome Costanzi, 1911, and the same year she created for La Scala Ygraine in Dukas’ Ariadne et Barbe-bleu. She seems to have been particularly persuasive in dramatic roles, being a striking looking woman (“una figura stupenda”, to quote one magazine) and an excellent actress. Her last traced season was at the Municipale in Piacenza, 1913. There is no indication that Emanuelli recorded commercially.
34.Unidentified Variations [Fr.]2:22
 A student of Guillamat at the Paris Conservatoire, Famin won 1er accessit de Chant and 1er accessit d’Opéra-Comique in 1913. Her debut at the Opéra Comique was as a Grisette in Louise in 1916, although one assumes she must have been active in the French provinces during the intervening years. Her next Paris role was the creation of Soeur Blondine in Messager’s Béatrice on 23 Nov. 1917 (with Baugé and Fontaine, directed by the composer), appearing on 11 Nov. 1918 (Armistice Day) in a special performance of Gounod’s Mireille with Brothier, Francell, Albers, Belhomme, and Vieulle. She created, in 1920, Lydié in Fauré’s Pénélope (with Lubin and Rousselière). For the next few seasons Famin appeared in a wide assortment of (generally) ingenue roles including a number of creations. She does not appear to have otherwise recorded.
VICTORIA FER [so] (Nizza, 1881-1963)
35.LA BOHÈME: Quando m’en vo (Puccini) [Fr.]2:35
 Fer received her musical education at the Marseille Conservatory and made her earlier performances in various provincial French theaters. In 1912, Fer was applauded at Hammerstein’s London Opera House as Jean in Massenet’s Jongleur de Notre-Dame (Massenet), as well as Philine in Mignon (Thomas) and Mathilde in Rossini’s William Tell. She was first heard at the Paris Opéra in 1916 (Marguerite in Faust) and the Opéra-Comique in 1923 as Madama Butterfly. In 1959 Fer became a Professor at the Nizza Conservatory. Her commercial recorded output consisted of a few sides for the French Gramophone Company in 1910-11 and 1922.
IRENE VON FLADUNG [so] (1879-München, 1965)
36.LES HUGUENOTS: Nobles Seigneurs (Meyerbeer) [Ger.]1:29
 Having studied voice in Graz, von Fladung made her debut at the Vienna Hofoper in 1906 and at Bayreuth and München the following year. She remained with the opera in Münich through 1925, appearing as a guest at Dresden, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart. Von Fladung’s roles included Marzelline (Fidelio), Hänsel, Octavian, Cherubino, Adele (Die Fledermaus), Blondchen (Entführung aus dem Serail), Musetta, and Urbain (Les Huguenots). Her only recordings were a very few sides for Odeon.
DOLORES FRAU [ms] (Barcelona, 1882-1964)
37.DON CARLOS: O mia regina (Verdi) 2:17
 Prepared at the Barcelona Conservatory, Frau made her debut in that city, 1905, as Amneris. She was then heard in Bilbao in Le Prophète with Darclée and Julien Biel. Her Italian debut was in 1907. During her career, which lasted through 1934, Frau appeared at La Scala and many other leading Italian theaters and throughout her native Spain, as well as having toured North, Central and South America. Some of her later stage performances took place at the Marconi in Buenos Aires, 1931-33. She taught at the Barcelona Conservatory where she was the first teacher of Victoria de los Angeles. Frau made some recordings for Italian Columbia in the 1913 period.
ANDRÉ GILLY [te] ( ? -1922)
38.MAÎTRE PATHELIN: Je pense à vous (Bazin) 1:36
 Gilly’s debut was during a French opera season at the San Carlos of Lisbon, December, 1909, when he created for Portugal Messager’s Fortunio. He was described in the press on that occasion as “tall, thin, elegant” and gifted with a “charming voice with an attractive timbre”. Upon returning to Paris he made his debut at the Gaîté Lyrique as Narraboth in Salomé, continuing with this company for four seasons with great success. Between 1914 and 1918 he served in the French Army, returning to the same theater in 1919 in La Fille de Mme. Angot with Edmée Favart, also appearing as Nicias in Thaïs at Covent Garden. He was considered a successor to Edmond Clément, but his life ended tragically on December 5, 1922, as a result of typhoid fever. Two ensemble recordings made for Pathé in 1910 seem to be the extent of his recorded output.
39.Verborgenheit (Wolf) 2:23
 Another of the mysteries among the Edison trials, nothing has been found of an artist by this name. The closest seems to be Marie Goetze, a noted German contralto (1860-1922). Goetz is listed on the paper accompanying the cylinders as, alternately, Mary and Mora. Two trials exist, both of which indicate a singer of some substance and musical taste, even if Edison might not have agreed (or cared).
CD 2 (79:02)
ROSE HEILBRONNER [so] (Paris, 1884- ? )
1.MANON: Adieu, notre petite table (Massenet) 2:16
 Heilbronner’s debut was with the Paris Opéra-Comique, 1907, as Diana in Iphigénie en Aulide (Gluck), one of a number of roles she performed there. In 1911 she appeared in Buenos Aires in Massenet’s Grisélidis. Other performance venues included Nizza, Monte Carlo, Nancy (where she was in the world premiere of Le Pays by Guy Ropartz), Bordeaux, Marseille, and Toulouse. She was, in later years, a soloist with the Lamoureux Orchestra and a recitalist. Her career has not been traced past 1930. Heilbronner made a number of records for Odeon, the French Gramophone Company, Opéra, and Edison cylinders. As these issued Edisons were made in 1910, prior to this 1913 trial, it is not known why the trial was made.
WALDEMAR HENKE [te] (Königsberg, 1876-1945?)
2.MIGNON: Adieu, Mignon, courage (Thomas) [Ger.]2:14
 Henke began his operatic career in Posen Stattheater, 1898. After success in Wiesbaden he came, in 1911, to the Vienna Hofoper where he sang through the mid-1920s primarily as a character tenor. There he frequently sang Mime and Monostatos, as well as David in Die Meistersinger among many other roles. He was a creator in the world premiere of Berg’s Wozzeck (1925) and also toured the U.S. as a member of Gadski’s German Opera Company. Henke recorded prolifically, for the German Gramophon Company, Beka, Pathé, and Odeon and made electrical recordings for Polydor and Electrola.
LADISLAVA HOTKOVSKA [Wladislawa Chotkowska] [s/ms] (Poland, 1877?-1923)
3.Unidentified Song/Aria [ It.]2:07
 Hotkovska studied in Poland with Aleksandrowicz and then in Paris with Jean de Reszke, making her debut at the Warsaw Opera in Moniuszko’s Hrabina. Her repertoire during this period also included such parts as Santuzza, Elisabeth (Tannhäuser), Carmen, and Marguerite (Faust). 1906 included a tour of Russia, and in 1908 she appeared as Fricka (Die Walküre) and Amneris (Aida) in Bologna. Another of her Wagnerian roles was Brangane, which was part of her repertoire at Cesena in 1909. She also sang Amneris at the Politeama in Genoa, 1909, and appeared with the Italian Opera in Cairo and in Madrid, her roles including mezzo parts such as Azucena as well as occasional visit to the soprano repertoire (Rachel in La Juive as an example quoted in one source). Hotkowska’s only known recordings were six cylinders for Pathé in Warsaw, 1904, as a soprano. The Edison papers give her age as 38 as of June 10, 1912.
GUILLAUME IBOS [te] (Muret, France, 1860-1952)
4.RIGOLETTO: La donna è mobile (Verdi) 1:22
 Of all the singers recorded in the Edison trials, Ibos was the most important. His debut was at the Paris Opéra, 1885, as Fernand in La Favorite (Donizetti). At la Monnaie in Brussels, 1889, he created for Belgium Roland in Massenet’s Esclarmonde, appearing subsequently in Spain and Russia. At the Opéra-Comique, he was the first Paris Werther (1893). In 1897-98 he visited the U.S. on tour with the Damrosch-Ellis Opera Company and partnered with Melba in Aida, Faust, Les Huguenots, and Roméo et Juliette. His La Scala debut was in 1904 as the Duke in Rigoletto (in Italian, as on his Edison trial cylinder). Apparently he made one primitive cylinder for Gaumont in 1900. This was reissued around 1940 on disc format in the French “Trésor de Chant Français” series. He also may have recorded for Columbia in 1903, but surviving examples of his voice are virtually unknown. The Edison notebooks state that he never made records before. Typical of Edison’s comments was his notation regarding Ibos: “Big tremolo – not wanted”.
5.ANDREA CHÉNIER: Nemico della patria (Giordano) 1:21
 Janni received a medical degree while studying voice, apparently having made his debut in 1899, Crema, as Barnaba in La Gioconda. He sang leading roles at the Costanzi in Rome and the Reale in Madrid (1910), as well as in Modena, Bari, Genova, and other Italian houses. During this period he also continued medical work, being of particular help during an epidemic of cholera in Rovigo, 1911. He toured South America in 1913, singing at the Municipal Theaters in Rio de Janeiro and San Paolo. Recordings of his voice were issued by the Italian Gramophone Company around 1918, including duets with tenor Bernardo De Muro.
6.FAUST: Recitative to the Jewel Song (Gounod) [It.]1:46
 Another of the “unknowns”, Korb must have had a career, but where? The trial was made in Italy, so she must have been singing or studying there at the time. Perhaps she was an American. The excerpt Korb chose as a trial is a rather strange audition piece, being part of the passage between Marguerite’s “Le Roi de Thulé” and the “Jewel Song”.
7.AIDA: Ohimè! morir mi sento! (Verdi) 2:13
 Probably of Spanish origin, Kosta-Marrugat appeared in Valencia, 1906, in Aida and La Favorita, and 1911 in Les Huguenots, Carmen, and Tannhäuser. In 1912 she played a prominent part in the repertoire at the Coliseo Recrejos in Lisbon, singing in Andrea Chenier, Il Trovatore, and La Gioconda, among others. Kosta-Marrugat’s Italian career included major roles in theaters in Modena, Venice, Pesaro, and Pistoia. Recordings of this artist were made for Italian Columbia and (as Beatrice Costa) for Phonodisc Mondial.
Mme. WILLAUME-LAMBERT [Leontine F. Lambert] [so]
8.CARMEN: Je dis que rien (Bizet) 1:52
 A student of Engel and Max Bouvet at the Paris Opéra-Comique, Mlle. Willaume-Lambert (her professional name) obtained first prizes in singing, Opéra, and Opéra-Comique. She started her career as a concert singer with the Concerts Colonne under Gabriel Pierné, 1910, and two years later appeared in The Magic Flute at the Gaité Lyrique, Paris, with Fugère, André Gilly and Alice Verlet. At the same theater in 1913 she was a creator in Février’s Carmoisine (with Fugére, Gilly, and Maguenat).
ROBERT LASSALLE [te] (1885- ? )
9.TOSCA: Qual occhi al mondo (Puccini) [Fr.]1:15
 Son of noted 19th century baritone Jean Lassalle, Robert studied with his father and with Jacques Isnardon. Among the earliest performances credited to him was in 1910 as Faust in Boïto’s Mefistofele with the Boston Opera. In 1911, Lassalle was first heard at the Paris Opéra as the Duke in Rigoletto. His career at the Opéra encompassed such roles as Narraboth (Salomé), Samson, Lohengrin, and Faust (Damnation of Faust). In 1912 he took part in two complete operas for Pathé: Rigoletto and La Favorite, these, excepting a performance of La Marseillaise with Lapeyrette and Albers, his only commercial recordings.
ANTOINETTE LAUTE-BRUN [so] (Nîmes, 1876- ? )
10.LES HUGUENOTS: Nobles Seigneurs (Meyerbeer) 2:23
 Another product of the Paris Conservatoire, Laute studied there with Duvernoy and Melchissèdec. Her debut was at the Paris Opéra, 1903, as the Page in Tannhäuser. The Paris Opéra remained her artistic home for over two decades. Laute-Brun (after her marriage to composer Georges Brun in 1907) had a huge repertoire, including a number of creations, primarily of smaller roles, although she occasionally sang principal parts as well in both the soprano and mezzo ranges. As an example, she was heard at the Opéra as both Marguerite and Siebel in Faust and in the roles of Helmwige and Frika in Die Walküre. Earlier in her career, Laute-Brun made a number of records for the French Gramophone Company and several other smaller French labels, as well as a group of cylinders for Edison around 1911. Why it was necessary for an Edison trial to be made again in 1913 hasn’t been explained. This may have been her final recording experience.
MERCEDES LLOPART [so] (Barcelona, 1895-Milano, 1970)
11.LA BOHÈME: Mi chiamano Mimi (Puccini) 2:13
 Llopart studied in Spain and made a remarkably youthful debut in Persiceto, Italy, as Gilda, 1912, also singing Sieglinde in Die Walküre at the Liceo in Barcelona the same year. This seems a remarkable feat for a soprano at age 17 (if her birth date is to be believed). About this same period she made two records for the Gramophone Company and this Edison trial (these possibly her only recordings). She appeared in Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid, Santiago (Chile), and throughout Italy in roles such as Sieglinde, Alice Ford, Tosca, Isabeau, the Marchallin, and Elsa. At La Scala she created Magda in Respighi’s La campana somersa (1929) and Dolly in Wolf-Ferrari’s Sly (1927). Llopart taught in Italy in 1945, her starry array of pupils including Fiorenza Cossotto, Renata Scotto, Anna Moffo, and Alfredo Kraus.
EUGENIA LOPEZ-NUNES [co] (Livorno, 1883- ? )
12.IL TROVATORE: Ai nostri monti (Verdi) 1:46
 Apparently born of a Spanish father, Lopez-Nunes (“Nunes” was pronounced and spelled as Italian, without a tilde over the “n”) made her debut in Brindisi, 1904, as Siebel in Faust. She appeared in Parma, Modena, Rimini, Torino, and other Italian cities the next decade in Il Trovatore, Siegfried, Maria di Rohan, La Gioconda, and La Wally, among other works. In 1920, Lopez-Nunes married one Herr Heilbrunn and resettled in Germany. Recordings of her voice were made in the 1911-12 period for Pathé and Columbia, and later (under her married name) for Ultraphon. As she was Jewish, her work in Germany would likely have ended in 1933. What subsequently became of her isn’t known.
13.LA FAVORITA: O mio Fernando (Donizetti) 2:18
 Lucci’s career may have begun at the Teatro Reale in Madrid, where she appeared from 1903-1907 in a variety of operas ranging from Orfeo ed Euridice through Cavalleria Rusticana. Her career continued in Italy, South America, and Spain through 1933, when she appeared in Rigoletto in Valencia. Lucci made five Italian Odeon records about 1907.
FRANCIS MACLENNAN [te] (Michigan, 1879-New York, 1935)
14.My Dreams (Tosti) 2:16
 A pupil of Henschel in London and Von Emmerich in Berlin, Maclennan made his debut as Gounod’s Faust at Covent Garden, 1902. He married soprano Florence Easton in 1904 and the following year toured the U.S. in the Savage Opera presentation of Wagner’s Parsifal. The next season both husband and wife were with the same company in the first American performances of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Both had great success with the Berlin Opera, 1907-13 and then the Hamburg Opera, 1913-15. Maclennan was then engaged by the Chicago Opera for two seasons. His career included an extraordinarily varied repertoire, including William Tell with Hammerstein (London, 1911-12), The Mikado (Society of American Singers, 1918), and the American premiere of Mahler’s Der Lied von das Erde (with Mme. Cahier, Bodanzky directing, Carnegie Hall, 1 Feb. 1922). Only four rare recordings exist of his voice, these made in Hamburg, 1908, and sung in German. The Edison trial adds a fifth recording and the only one in his native English.
ALFRED MAGUENAT [ba] (1880- ? )
15.I PAGLIACCI: Prologo (Leoncavallo) [Fr.]1:43
 Beginning his career in 1908 in character and buffo roles at the Paris Opéra in 1908, Maguenat soon moved to more substantial repertoire. In 1913 he appeared in the Gaîte-Lyrique world premiere of Février’s Carmoisine. From 1914-17 he sang a variety of roles at Monte Carlo, including Amonasro and Germont, as well as principal roles in Madame Sans-Gêne (Giordano) and Les cadeaux de Noël (Gunsbourg). Maguenat was also with the Chicago Opera, Covent Garden, 1915-19, and in 1922 made his debut at the Paris Opéra as Hérode in Hérodiade. He was also part of Melba’s 1924 Australian touring company. Beginning in 1914, Maguenat recorded acoustically for Odéon, and is in the electric Columbia set of excerpts from Pelléas et Mélisande (Debussy) with Nespoulous and Dufranne. His Edison trial would have been his first recording.
16.PEER GYNT: Solvejg’s Song (Grieg) [Fr.]1:53
 Following a 1910 Opéra-Comique debut as Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana, Ménard appeared there in roles such as Micaela (Carmen) and Giulietta (Les Contes d’Hoffmann) as well as small parts in a number of other works. She likely did not otherwise record. Had she been offered a second opportunity, no doubt Ménard would have corrected the unfortunate and abrupt final note.
FRANCISCO G. MOLINA [ba] (Aragón, 1883-Madrid, 1948)
17.Dos Besos Tengo en el Alma (Aragon Folk Song) 2:21
 One researcher kindly provided the above birth and death dates but no information on the singer. He apparently was active in Spain and Italy, and the voice gives every indication that he must have had a successful career.
LUIGI MONTESANTO [ba] (Palermo, 1887-Milano, 1954)
18.Baciami (Tosti) 1:55
 A pupil of Santorno in Palermo, Montesanto began his operatic work as a youth in small roles at the Massimo in Palermo. His debut in substantial roles took place at the Biondo in Palermo, 1908, as Escamillo in Carmen and Silvio in Pagliacci. After singing throughout Italy, Montesanto appeared at the Colón (Buenos Aires) as Jochanaan in that house’s premiere of Strauss’s Salome and then with the Metropolitan, creating there Luigi in the world premiere of Puccini’s Il Tabarro. His career also included La Scala, the Teatro Costanzi, and the Chicago Opera. He taught in later years, his primary pupil having been Giuseppe Di Stefano. Recordings of Montesanto’s voice appear on Pathé, Fonotipia, and electrically on Italian Columbia. Edison’s comment on this trial: “Tremolo bad, coarse, gutteral [sic], very uneven volume. Not wanted.”
19.HÉRODIADE: Il est doux (Massenet) 2:00
 Muratet’s debut at the Paris Opéra-Comique was as Clémence in Gounod’s Mireille, 1904. She subsequently sang a number of smaller roles there and created parts in Chérubin and Marie-Magdeleine (both Massenet), L’enfant Roi (Bruneau) and Miarka (Georges). In 1913 she was in the Gaîte-Lyrique premiere of yet another Massenet opera, Panurge (with Vanni Marcoux, Martinelli, Gilly, and Lucie Arbell.) Commercial recordings of Muratet are not known.
PEDRO NAVIA [te] (Chile, 1884- ? )
20.TOSCA: E lucevan le stelle (Puccini) :57
 A pupil of Benedetti in Santiago, Navia made his debut in 1908 as Rodolfo in La Bohème at the Municipale in Santiago. For the next several seasons he sang regularly at the Marconi in Buenos Aires, in principal tenor roles in a variety of operas including Iris, Rigoletto, Tosca, Manon Lescaut, Fedora, Faust, and La Traviata. His Italian debut was in Bari, 1912, as Gounod’s Faust. The next year he appeared at La Scala as Lohengrin, Wolf- Ferrari’s Le Donne Curiose, and Turiddu. In subsequent seasons he sang at Torino, Verona, Palermo, Parma, and in 1916 at the Colón (Buenos Aires) in Boris Godounov and with Ruffo in Rigoletto. It was in this latter opera that he was first heard at the Costanzi (Rome). The remainder of his career included performances in Spain and throughout South and Central America. One source indicates that around 1950 he opened a singing school in Bogotá (Columbia) and another that he was working there as a bank clerk, although his latter years are not well documented. He was honored recently (1997) as one of a group of Chilean singers to be commemorated via a postage stamp issue. Until the discovery of this Edison trial, it was thought that he never recorded.
MARGARETHE OBER [ms] (Berlin, 1885-Bad Sachsa, 1971)
21.SAMSON ET DALILA: Mon coeur s’ouvre (Saint-Saëns) [Ger.]2:14
 No doubt Ober might be considered among the most important singers to have made a trial cylinder for Edison. She studied in Berlin with Benno Stolzenberg and Arthur Arndt (later to become her husband) and made her debut in Frankfurt, 1906, as Azucena. Soon she became a leading artist with the Berlin Opera and remained on its roster through 1945. As a mezzo with the Metropolitan Opera, 1913-17, she was heard as Ortrud, Erda, Dalila, Brangäne, Amneris, and a number of other parts. Despite her great New York success, Ober’s forced departure was a result of wartime politics. A relatively prolific recording artist, Ober sang for the German Grammophon, Odeon, Parlophon, and Victor companies.
OLGA ALESSANDROVNA OLGHINA [so] (Russia, 1864- ? )
22.Unidentified Russian Song 1:39
 Another fascinating trial, the name appears here as written on the paper slip in the canister housing this cylinder. Olghina may be the famed soprano at the Mariinsky Theater (no middle name found), St. Petersburg, who created Yaroslavna in Borodin’s Prince Igor, 4 November 1890. She also sang the title role in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at La Scala, 1894, in that company’s first performance of the work, as well as the 1894 London premiere of the same opera. Olghina was, the same year, also the first London Nanetta in Verdi’s Falstaff. She also sang at Warsaw, Helsinki, and the Bolshoi (Moscow). No recordings are otherwise known of her voice.
FELISA (FELICITA) ORDUGNA [so] (c.1876- ? )
23.Arpeggios 2:10
 Apparently from Spain, Ordugna sang at the Reale in Madrid during the first decade of the 20th century and also toured South America. Performances are also cited at the Coliseo Recrejos in Lisbon, 1911, as well as at the Storchi in Modena. In 1912 she appeared in Valencia in Lohengrin, Aida, and Mefistofele. She may well be Felicita De Perez, who recorded for la Cigale (Spanish Columbia).
AMALIA PAOLI [ms] (Puerto Rico, 1861-1942)
24.MIGNON: Connais-tu le pays? (Thomas) [It.]2:22
 Paoli studied in Puerto Rico with Lizzie Graham and made her concert in Ponce, 1880. Her stage debut in Spain was at the Madrid Teatro Real, 1891, as Amneris in Aida. Among her earliest performances documented in Italy are at the Teatro Andreani, Mantova, 1893, in La Forza del Destino, and at the Teatro Manzoni, Milano, where she sang in La Favorita. Paoli’s career encompassed various Italian and Spanish opera houses. Other than an unpublished cylinder made with her brother, the celebrated tenor Antonio Paoli, Amalia was not known to have recorded.
25.TOSCA: Recondita armonia (Puccini) 1:59
 An active tenor the first two decades of the 20th century, Perya, born in Palermo, made his debut in Alexandria as Alfredo in La Traviata. He was subsequently heard in Torino, Naples, Mantua, Barcelona, Torino, Catania, and Malta in roles such as Cavaradossi, Turiddu, Canio, the Duke, and Maurizio (Adriana Lecouvreur). In 1906, Perya was one of a group of singers brought to the United States by Leoncavallo to appear in touring performances of his operas. In 1909 he was on the roster of the Nazionale (Rome), singing Faust and Canio in Pagliacci. No commercial recordings exist of Perya’s voice.
ADELE (ADELA) PONZANO [ms] (Casale Monferrato, 1876-Torino, 1954)
26.L’AMICO FRITZ: Lacere, miseri (Mascagni) 1:37
 Ponzano studied in Torino with Annetta Casaloni (the first Maddelena in Rigoletto) and made her debut in 1898 at the Sociale of Saluzzo in Fra Diavolo. By 1902 she was singing at La Scala, where she created a small role in the world premiere of Franchetti’s Germania (1902) as well as in Cilèa’s Gloria (1907). Among the parts in her diverse repertoire was Meg Ford, which she sang in the 1913 Busseto Verdi Centenary festival performance of Falstaff. She also appeared in Spain, Mexico, and in New York with the Manhattan Opera. Her only recordings, made for the Gramophone Company the year following her Edison trial, were portions of Verdi’s Requiem. Edison’s review of the trial: “Voice fair but awful tremolo. Can’t use her.”
ESMERELDA PUCCI [so] (Milano, 1888-1968)
27.TOSCA: Vissi d’arte (Puccini) 2:18
 A student of Zaira Falchi-Cortini in Rome, Pucci made her debut as Catalani’s Loreley in Palermo, 1906. In 1908 she was particularly successful at Rome’s Teatro Costanzi as Sieglinde in Die Walküre. Barcelona (Teatro Real), Naples (San Carlo), Lecce, Brescia and Tunis were among the sites where she was heard in operas such as Iris, Guglielmo Tell, La figlia di Jorio, I Lombardi, Ernani, and La Fanciulla del West. She is not known to have recorded commercially. Typical of the candid quality of these tests, Pucci and her accompanist seem to lose all forward momentum for a few bars. As there was no opportunity to correct this, both adjusted musically and moved on to a successful conclusion.
28.FAUST: Avant de quitter (Gounod) 1:22
 At the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, 1905, Raynal created a leading role in d’Harcourt’s Le Tasse, the earliest notice found of him. During the summer season of 1905 he sang at Aix-les-Bains. During the 1909-10 season, Raynal sang at Liège and in 1910-11 in Lyon. The repertoire in which he was connected at the latter house included such exotic works as Aphrodite (d’Erlanger), Pantagrud (Tomassi), and Thérèse (Massenet), as well as Madama Butterfly (in which he sang Sharpless). Rayal apparently was particularly appreciated in Lyon, since in 1915 and during the war he appeared in concert there. In 1922-23 he sang in Bordeaux, where he resided. Recordings of his voice, other than his Edison trial, are not known. Raynal obviously had an easy top and edited Gounod’s ending to display a high A flat.
MARIA ROGGERO [so] (Torino, c. 1886- ? )
29.LA WALLY: Ebben? ne andrò lontana (Catalani) 1:59
 Roggero studied in her native Torino and made her debut in Firenze, 1908, as Mignon. At the Regio in Torino she was subsequently heard in Hérodiade, Guglielmo Ratcliffe, and Boris Godounov. Her repertoire included a wide variety of soprano roles, including principal parts in Salome, La Wally, Manon Lescaut, Andrea Chénier, Werther, Adriana Lecouvreur, Die Walküre, and many others. She later taught at the Liceo Musicale in Como. Roggero recorded for the Italian Gramophone Company, including duets with tenor Bernardo de Muro. She is listed in the Edison file as having been 30 in 1912.
Mlle. ROMANITZA [so]
30.MANON: Je marche sur tous les chemins (Massenet) 1:39
 No information was found on this stylish singer. She may have been Hungarian and active in France, where the trial was made in 1913.
31.Unidentified French Patriotic Selection 2:09
 First appearing under the name Grossaux in Belgium, 1902, he was Roselly as a member of the Théâtre-des-Arts troup in Rouen, 1902-03, where he was a creator in La Fiancée de la mer by Jan Blockx (with Cornubert and Mlle. Charpantier). He subsequently appeared at Lyon and then again at Rouen before making his debut at the Paris Opéra in 1910 as Wolfram in Tannhäuser. His roles there during subsequent seasons included Nevers (Les Huguenots), Donner (Götterdämmerung), Athanaël (Thaïs), Amonasro (Aida), Telramund (Lohengrin) and Valentin (Faust), as well as several other roles. As a member of the National Opera of Canada, 1913-14, he toured Canada and the central U.S., singing principal roles in Carmen, Hérodiade, La Navarraise, Thaïs and Samson et Dalila. In 1920-21 he was on the roster at Ghent with Vina Bovy in Faust and Thaïs. His Edison trial, a selection so far unidentified, seems to be his only existing recording.
EMANUELE SALAZAR [te] (Costa Rica, 1887-1950)
32.LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST: Ch’ella mi creda (Puccini) 2:01
 Salazar’s early training was in his native Costa Rica, where he was first heard in opera as Canio and Turiddu. He then moved to Italy, making his debut there in 1913 at the Verdi in Vicenza in Lucia. In 1915 he sang at the Petruzzelli in Bari and in 1917 appeared in Cuba with Titta Ruffo. From 1919 he was frequently heard in the United States, first with the San Carlo Opera, in 1921 making his debut at the Metropolitan. In the later 1920s he was again heard in Italy, Otello being one of his important roles of this period. This trial, dated 1913, was Salazar’s only recording until a group of electrical discs was made for Italian Columbia in 1927. He also appeared in a sound film.
33.LAKMÉ: Pourquoi dans les grands bois (Delibes) [Rus.]2:30
 This is the name as it is pencilled on the note in the original cylinder canister. No one with this name has as yet been discovered active in Russia at the time the cylinder was recorded in 1913. There is an “O. Shulgina” mentioned in the Levik Memoirs, as a Professor of the Tbilish Conservatory. Wrote Levik (Morgan translation pub. by Symposium), “All that had been given to her by nature was beautiful: face, deportment, timbre of voice. The voice itself was not exceptional but was soft-grained and caressing.” The description of the voice certainly fits the artist on this trial and the question of transliteration and the sometimes faulty spelling on the notes in the cylinder containers might account for differences in the name. It’s a consideration, if nothing more.
MAURICE SENS [te] (1880- ? )
34.LA BOHÈME: Che gelida manina (Puccini) [Fr.]2:26
 Sens made his debut at the Opéra-Comique, 1910 and in the same year created the leading tenor role in Samuel-Rousseau’s Léone. More familiar repertoire was at the fore in subsequent seasons, when he sang Don José, Werther, Rodolfo, des Grieux, Turiddu, and Julien (Charpentier’s Louise). In 1923, Sens wed his pupil, the considerably younger soprano, Gina Cigna (1900-1999). His few records for Odeon, probably from around 1911, are sought by collectors.
SARAH FIDELIA SOLARI [so] (Genova, c. 1884- ? )
35.CARMEN: Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante (Bizet) [It.]2:02
 Sister of the noted soprano Francisca Solari, Sarah made her debut in the principal soprano role in Verdi’s I Lombardi in Modena, 1908. In 1911 she was in the first Italian performance of Ariane et Barbe-bleue (Dukas) in Bologna and in 1914 the world premiere of Wolf-Ferrari’s I Quattro Rusteghi at the Lirico in Milano. She appears to have recorded for the Italian Gramophone Company in 1914, although there is some confusion in discographical listings as to whether it is she or her sister, or if they perhaps both made Gramophone Company recordings. The Edison notebooks give her age in 1912 as a highly unlikely 22.
36.ROBERT LE DIABLE: Nonnes, qui reposez (Meyerbeer) [It.]2:02
 Bits and pieces are noted of Sorgi’s career between 1899 and 1914. He sang in Italy during his earlier years, then from 1904-08 in South America. In 1909 he appeared at the Ponchielli in Cremona in Les Huguenots with great success. Also documented are appearances in Germany, Scandinavia, Portugal, Spain, and Cuba. He may have emigrated to the U.S. during the First World War, where at least one performance is documented in New York in 1918. Sorgi’s repertoire was diverse, including bass roles in La Bohème (both Puccini and Leoncavallo), Puritani, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Les Huguenots, Aida, L’Africaine, Iris, and a number of other works.
GIUSEPPE TACCANI [te] (Milano, 1882-1959)
37.MEFISTOFELE: Giunto sul passo (Boïto) 1:06
 A pupil of Lelio Casini, Taccani was first heard in 1904 at the Sociale in Lecco in Manon Lescaut. In 1905 he was in the world premiere of Pacchierotti’s L’Albatro and the following year in Parelli’s Hermes, both at the Politeama Genovese in Genoa. Taccani’s career continued until a farewell Turiddu in Savigliano in 1949. During this lengthy period, he sang internationally in many major companies such as the Manhattan Opera in New York (debut as Alfredo in La Traviata, 1909), the Nacional in Havana, the Colón in Buenos Aires, as well as throughout Italy. He recorded for G&T in 1906, Fonotipia and acoustically and electrically for Italian Columbia. It isn’t known why Taccani chose as his Edison trial only the first eight measures of the Mefistofele epilogue.
38.IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA: Una voce poco fa (Rossini) [Fr.]2:32
 Little information has turned up on this stylish coloratura other than appearances at the Monte-Carlo Opera in 1914. There she was a Flower Maiden in Parsifal (with Litvinne, Rousseliére and Journet) and Une Naïade in Les Fêtes d’Hebe (de Montdorge) with Alexandrowicz, André Gilly (also heard in this compilation), and, again, Journet.
FRIEDRICH WEIDEMANN [ba] (Ratzenburg, 1871-Vienna, 1919)
39.TANNHÄUSER: O du mein holder Abendstern (Wagner) 2:09
 A student of Wilhelm Vilmar in Hamburg and Conrad Muschler in Berlin, Weidemann made his debut in Schlesien in 1896. The following year he was with the opera in Essen, then Hamburg, followed by three seasons in Riga. In 1903 he was invited by Mahler to join the Vienna Opera, where he created for Vienna Orestes in Elektra (1909), Golaud in Pelléas et Mélisande (1910) and Amfortas in Parsifal (1914]. He also was soloist in the premiere of Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder in 1905, under the composer’s direction. In 1910, Weidemann appeared as a guest at Covent Garden, singing Orestes in the British premiere of Elektra, Jochanaan in Salome, and Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde. Weidemann’s records included a group for G&T, Odeon, and HMV. His Edison trial, 1913, dates from about five years after the last of his commercial recordings.
40.LA FAVORITA: O mio Fernando (Donizetti) 2:14
 Aside from a number of Italian houses, Zizolfi was heard at the Tivoli in San Francisco, 1912-13, and in 1915-16 toured Spain. Her career covered at least the period of 1905-1918. Recordings were made of her voice for the Italian Gramophone Company, some of these also having been issued on Victor. Edison’s appraisal of her work on this trial cylinder: “Terrible rapid tremolo. Not wanted.”
 © Lawrence F. Holdridge, 2000


The biographical information would not have been possible without the help of a number of scholars. Particular assistance on some of the more obscure French singers was provided by Alfred de Cock. Roberto Marcocci offered invaluable details on the lesser known Italian artists, while James McPherson contributed information on singers of several nationalities. Of great assistance on various specific points were (in alphabetical sequence) Prof. William Ashbrook, Juan Dzazopulos, Andrew Farkas, Dr. Douglas Fox, Antonio Massísimo, Natalya Liderman, Jesús M. Lopez, Tom Kaufman, William Shaman, Jack Stanley and Raymond R. Wile.


Photographs: Edison National Historic Site, the National Park Service and the United States Department of the Interior; Lawrence F. Holdridge
Producer: Lawrence F. Holdridge
Audio Conservation: Ward Marston
Booklet Design: Takeshi Takahashi


Marston would like to thank the Edison National Historic Site, the National Park Service and the United States Department of the Interior. Without their help and dedication to the conservation of these treasures, this CD set would not be possible.

For years there were rumors of a cache of operatic cylinder trial recordings in a basement of the Edison National Historic Site. To an avid collector, this information was relative to an Egyptologist hearing of the existence of King Tut’s tomb before the actual excavation. What fascinating historic musical artifacts might have been hidden there?

At my mention of this to Ward Marston, he was as enthusiastic as I. He immediately contacted Site Archivist Jerry Fabris. Yes, Mr. Fabris replied, there were a number of such cylinders, in fact hundreds, which some time ago had been moved to more hospitable quarters. Mr. Fabris brought two of these for Ward to hear in his studio. It was immediately obvious that the cylinders should indeed be preserved on tape and the more interesting examples then be made available to the public. The Edison Historic Site agreed, and in turn Ward brought his equipment to the Site and transferred all of the cylinders. This was the first time these had been played since Edison himself heard them in 1912-1913.

What the trial cylinders contain are musical snippets by a host of European singers active in the 1912-13 period, some well known and others forgotten. Many of the recordings are simply of arpeggios (which are almost consistently identified as “scales”) and others are portions of arias or, in a few cases, songs. These were often abruptly terminated before the conclusion of the excerpt or else were begun at some spot other than the normal starting point. For reference purposes, the arias included on this CD are identified with the familiar beginning text, even if the selection is incomplete.

In many of the canisters are paper slips with a bit or two of basic information, such as the singer’s last name (not always spelled correctly) and occasionally a word or so from the title. In a few instances, written identification was completely missing. Fortunately, all the selections recorded in Italy (most in the summer of 1912) and most originating in Germany and France bear the artist’s last name in a spoken announcement.

The cylinders were remarkably well preserved, having been housed in metal canisters with the tops sealed and cushioned with protective padding. The containers still bear traces of coal dust, a reminder of their years of basement storage, and some are dented, which could have been a result of their original transatlantic crossing. Despite their fragile wax composition, however, few of the cylinders were broken or otherwise damaged.

Before delving further into the story of these fascinating cylinders, it might be helpful to know something of Thomas Edison’s role in the recording of operatic music. He was the inventor of the phonograph in 1877, but, generally speaking, he lacked the marketing perspective to make the most of his invention. He also had difficulty in delegating authority and insisted on being in charge of all aspects of production, whether he was equipped to do so or not.

In the early 1900s, the three major American record companies were Victor, Columbia, and Edison. Edison produced wax cylinders that played a maximum of two minutes. Victor issued disc records in various sizes that contained from two to more than five minutes of sound, and Columbia was active in both mediums. Late in 1902, Victor was the first American concern to raise the curtain on operatic recording by issuing a group of arias pressed from masters made by their European affiliate, the Gramophone and Typewriter Company. Columbia immediately replied with a series of domestically recorded discs by several Metropolitan Opera stars. At first, the success of these projects was more in terms of prestige than financial rewards, but Victor, in particular, forged ahead by also adding American produced recordings to its import line and rapidly developed a large and eventually profitable market for opera on the gramophone. Edison, usually being too late with too little, belatedly entered the competition in 1905 with a series of operatic cylinders. Their playing capacity of only two minutes each severely limited what could be recorded. Perhaps even more important, a number of the major voices had already been contracted by Victor and other European companies.

Edison introduced a four-minute cylinder in 1908 to compete with the Victor and Columbia 12" records. By then, at least in the realm of opera, the disc had the firm upper hand. The major stars were recording for Victor and, to a degree, Columbia. Disc records, while certainly breakable and prone to wear from careless handling, were still more durable than Edison’s fragile wax cylinders. Still, in 1909, Edison made a wholehearted attempt to capture more than the “crackerbarrel” trade, as even Edison’s house journal referred to the major focus of its business. A number of celebrities, including tenor Leo Slezak and famed actress Sarah Bernhardt, were recorded in studios set up in the U.S., England and France. For over two years Edison continued issuing classical cylinder recordings for a market less than enamored of them.

In 1910, Edison devised a disc recording method which circumvented the patents held by Victor and Columbia and that also offered superior sound. Early that year, Edison’s National Phonograph Company began recording operatic singers both here and abroad on 10" and 12" master records. The former would last the equivalent of a Victor or Columbia 12" record while the latter had the advantage of being able to hold more than eight minutes of sound per side. Again, Caruso, McCormack, Nordica, and the other major names were contracted elsewhere, but Edison secured a surprising number of important figures, particularly of European fame. By 1913, the time he decided to begin the commercial launching of his new product (the Edison Diamond-Disc Phonograph), he had amassed a library of about 2000 master records.

While it is clear that his system of recording was sonically superior to the competition’s, there were marked drawbacks. Edison new discs were extremely heavy and bulky, about a quarter inch thick, and could play only on Edison equipment. Another liability, which had been a consistent problem for years, was Edison himself, who insisted on managing every aspect of production and recording. As an example of his impractical nature, there is the case of the noted Finnish soprano, Aïno Ackte, who made thirty master records. These included the Final Scene from Salome, arias from French and Italian operas, and lieder as well. Only one of the records was issued, and this remained in the catalogue for only a matter of months. The others Edison disqualified on matters of repertoire (his favorite song alternated between “Kathleen Mavourneen” and “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen”), accompaniment (he preferred harp and a light string/woodwind background), or the quality of the voice. Of all the hundreds of operatic records made during the period of 1910-1913, less than five percent were actually issued, and of these none of the 12" size discs were included. This represented an investment of over two million dollars down the drain.

Here is where our cylinder story begins. In a further attempt to find voices that he felt were fitting for recording work, Edison assigned an agent, one Humbert Tosi, and an engineer to travel through Europe. With state-of-the-art portable recording equipment, they visited various locations and recruited artists not under contract to other companies to make two-minute trial cylinders. Edison wasn’t interested in the music used for these tests, however, but rather strictly the voice. In making these recordings, there were no opportunities for second attempts should there be a musical mishap along the way, so whatever happened, happened.

When testing was completed, All the cylinders were then shipped back to Edison for his evaluation, and he duly reported on many of these trials in his notebooks. Not one of the hundreds of singers tested was to meet with the inventor’s approval and subsequently appear on commercially issued Edison recordings. Interestingly he did accept one. In an Etude magazine interview in 1923, Edison recalled, “Only one singer of all that were sent to me had what I would term a perfect voice. That man lived in Italy. I cabled to have him come to America. Three days later he was dead and buried.” A colorful quote, but a bit exaggerated. In a March 11, 1914 letter from Mr. Tosi to Edison executive Walter H. Miller, Tosi wrote, “I note that the only baritone that Mr. Edison permitted us to use is Pignalosa. The artist died a month ago here in Milan.” A pity the cylinder no longer exists.

How could Edison have been so consistently misdirected in his opinions regarding singers and singing? Because of deafness, he had to do his listening with a horn or cupped hand, and it is likely that at least some of his idiosyncrasies regarding the voice might have been heightened by this handicap. The primary obstacle, however, was his distaste for “tremolo”, a term he used for any sort of pitch wavering, whether it be the primarily naturally produced effect of vibrato or a tension-induced tremolo. The first factor influencing Edison’s decision, then, would have been the degree of a singer’s noticeable vibrato, despite the fact that any singing voice requires some degree of natural vibrato. Without it there is only pure, basically colorless, tone. Another of Edison’s objections was the style of operatic singing. “The phonograph isn’t an opera house,” he noted in more than one memo, as the vocal sound he felt ideal would be of a volume one might produce to adequately fill a drawing room. He suggested on occasion that singers should make their records using a rehearsal level of volume. Dramatic voices were not to his taste. Another point demanded by Edison was the use of music for auditions with which he was familiar. His staff, wishing to remain gainfully employed, usually deferred to his decisions, or at least seldom verbally countermanded them.

An obvious solution to these problems would have been the delegation of authority. Had Edison remained in the scientific laboratory and left his commercial phonograph work to others, the history of operatic recording in general and his company in particular might have been considerably different.

In 1914, as a result of the brewing First World War, Edison terminated his European connections and concentrated on finding singers in the U.S. There was, from that point, no need of the European trial cylinders. Why this one group of several hundred survived isn’t known, particularly as most of the commercial cylinder masters were destroyed after Edison left the phonograph business in 1929. It is suspected that the surviving group was protected by the obscure storage location; the cylinders simply remained unnoticed for decades.

The technical approach to recording during the period before electricity took over the process in the later 1920s was to deaden all studio ambiance so the effect would be of the voice emanating directly from the phonograph. Many of the cylinder trials (particularly those of Italian origin) seem to have been made in large rooms with noticeable reverberation, creating a performance ambiance that one doesn’t encounter in commercial recordings of the period.

These trial recording sessions must have been similar to what might be called the “cattle call” audition: a bit of a song, a “thank you”, and then “next”. Still, they give us an ear to a long gone era. Some of the singers would be otherwise completely lost to posterity, as they left no issued recordings. Of those who did record elsewhere, these trials permit a different aural perspective and often provide much more vocal realism than is evidenced in their studio efforts. “There is not one good voice in the whole lot,” wrote Edison after auditioning one group of tests. “They [the singers] probably keep the stage because they are good actors and not because of a good voice.”

Unfortunately, a number of the trial cylinders mentioned in Edison’s books no longer exist, including, among many others, tests by Conchita Supervia (whose vibrato caused Edison major agita), Edward Johnson (as Edoardo Di Giovanni), Amelita Galli-Curci and Giulio Crimi. The great French dramatic soprano Félia Litvinne was also heard; Edison felt she might be good enough for ensemble work but not as a soloist. Still, the surviving samples include a number of artists who had substantial careers.

Very basic information has been presented for each singer. There has been no attempt to discuss their artistic or vocal merits, it being left to the reviewers and individual listeners to form their own opinions. I think it safe to say, however, that many of the voices would likely have had a degree of success in any era. I think you’ll find this to be a fascinating vocal adventure.

© Lawrence F. Holdridge, 2000