The Edison Legacy, Vol. 2
Unpublished Treasures of the Edison Archive

53014-2 (3 CDs for the price of 2)  | $ 36.00


The Edison Legacy, Vol. 2
This three-CD set marks the next installment of the historically significant release of unpublished Edison diamond disc masters. Thomas Edison, inventor of the phonograph, began his own recording company in 1898, and for the next 14 years, he released only wax cylinder recordings, while by 1905, most other companies were using the more practical flat disc format. By 1909, the cylinder was a dying medium, and Edison realized that his company needed to compete in the disc market. Consequently, he strove to produce a better-sounding disc than any of his competitors. For nearly three years, he made disc recordings before publishing any. Over a hundred of these wax disc masters still exist in the Edison archive, unheard by anyone until now. These recordings contain not only some very fine singing, but also, some of the best sound to be heard on acoustic recording. This volume contains three recordings by the renowned baritone, Giussepe Kaschmann; tenor Umberto Macnez; contralto Marie Delna; sopranos Adelina Agostinelli, Celestina Boninsegna, Carolina White, Maria Galvany, and a marvelous duet from Verdi's Otello with Marie Rappold and Leo Slezak.

CD 1 (78:00)


1.DON CARLO: Tu che le vanità conoscesti del mondo (Verdi)7:02
 15 November 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 534-A 
2.AIDA: O patria mia (Verdi)5:47
 15 November 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 533-A 
3.IRIS: Ho fatto un triste sogno (Mascagni)5:47
 June 1912; London, unpublished wax master 1140-A 
4.FAUST: Or via, non ci pensiam … Ah! È strano poter [Jewel song] (Gounod)6:55
 10 June 1912†; London, unpublished wax master 1147-A 


5.FAUST: Qual turbamento in cor mi sento … Salve! Dimora casta e pura (Gounod)6:07
 4 July 1911†; London, unpublished wax master 757-B 


6.UN BALLO IN MASCHERA: Alzati, là tuo figlio … Eri tu, che macchiavi (Verdi)6:26
 30 June 1911†; London, unpublished wax master 754-A 


7.IL TROVATORE: Tacea la notte placida (Verdi)4:02
 11 April 1911; London, (ten-inch matrix 632-B) published briefly as 82035 
8.LA FORZA DEL DESTINO: Pace! Pace mio dio (Verdi)6:01
 April 1911; London, unpublished diamond disc test pressing 620-B 
9.AIDA: Ritorna vincitor (Verdi)5:44
 4 April 1911†; London, unpublished wax master 619-B 


10.CARMEN: Il fior che avevi a me [Flower song] (Bizet)4:05
 1 November 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 424-A 
11.LOHENGRIN: Da voi lontan (In fernem Land) (Wagner)5:12
 3 November 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 429-A 

ELEONORA DE CISNEROS [mezzo-soprano]

12.LA FAVORITA: O mio Fernando (Donizetti)5:22
 11 April 1911; New York, unpublished wax master 606-A 

MARIE DELNA [contralto]

13.ORFEO ED EURIDICE: Che farò senza Euridice (Gluck)4:08
 19 March 1910; New York, unpublished diamond disc test pressing 118-B 
14.LES TROYENS À CARTHAGE: Chers Tyriens (Berlioz)5:22
 4 June 1912†; London, unpublished wax master 1143-B 

CD 2 (75:35)

MARIE DELNA [contralto] (continued)

1.SAMSON ET DALILA: Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix (Saint-Saëns)6:14
 5 June 1912†; London, unpublished wax master 1141-B 
2.WERTHER: Werther! Werther! Qui m’aurait dit la place [Letter scene] (Massenet)6:40
 5 June 1912†; London, unpublished wax master 1142-A 


3.IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA: La calunnia (Rossini)5:21
 October 1910√; London, unpublished wax master 362-A 
4.LA SONNAMBULA: Vi ravviso, o luoghi ameni (Bellini)4:17
 October 1910√; London, unpublished wax master 358-B 


5.LA SONNAMBULA: Son geloso del’zeffiro errante (Bellini)5:52
 with Umberto Macnez, tenor
26 October 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 402-B
6.Aria e variazione, op. 64 (Proch)4:06
 20 October 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 398-A 
7.L’ incantatrice (Arditi)4:41
 21 October 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 410-A 


8.GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG: Mime heiss ein mürrischer Zwerg (Wagner)6:50
 28 March 1911†; London, unpublished wax master 623-B 


9.DINORAH: In questo loco ... Sei vendicata assai (Meyerbeer)5:46
 2 November 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 428-A 
10.OTELLO: Credo in un Dio crudel (Verdi)4:40
 31 October 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 423-A 
11.Extase (Hector Salomon)4:54
 2 November 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 426-B
Note: The Edison documentation has composer as “Wieniawski”


12.IL TROVATORE: Infida, qual voce alto! (Verdi)4:35
 with Carlo Albani, tenor and Oreste Benedetti, baritone
5 July 1911†; London, unpublished wax master 761-B
13.AIDA: Pur ti reveggo (Verdi)5:18
 with Carlo Albani, tenor
4 July 1911†; London, unpublished wax master 759-B
14.FAUST: Signor, concesso sia all’umil vostr’ancella [Church scene] (Gounod)6:22
 with Pompilio Malatesta, bass and chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
7 July 1911†; London, unpublished wax master 765-B

CD 3 (78:55)


1.IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA: Ecco ridente in cielo (Rossini)5:09
 31 October 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 422-A 
2.MARTHA: M’appari (Flotow)3:51
 3 November 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 432-A 
3.LES PÊCHEURS DES PEARLES: Mi par d’udir ancora (Bizet)4:35
 31 October 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 421-A 
4.L’AMICO FRITZ: Ed anche Beppo amò … O amore, o belle luce (Mascagni)4:00
 3 November 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 430-B 


5.LOHENGRIN: Einsam in trüben Tagen (Wagner)4:50
 July 1910√; Paris, unpublished wax master 195-C 
6.TANNHAÜSER: All’mächt’ge Jungfrau (Wagner)5:34
 July 1910√; Paris, unpublished wax master 204-A 
7.AIDA: Ritorna vincitor (Verdi)6:05
 July 1910√; Paris, unpublished wax master 205-A 
8.OTELLO: Già nella notte densa (Verdi)5:42
 with Leo Slezak, tenor
7 April 1911†; London, unpublished wax master 607-A
Note: The final minutes of this duet were recorded on a ten-inch master, which no longer exists.


9.PAGLIACCI: Si può? [Prologo] (Leoncavallo)5:16
 12 June 1912; London, unpublished wax master 1145-A 


10.AIDA: Ritorna vincitor (Verdi)6:31
 18-22 July 1910; Paris, unpublished wax master 239-B 
11.AIDA: Fu la sorte (Verdi)6:37
 with Eleonora De Cisneros, mezzo-soprano
18-22 July 1910; Paris, unpublished diamond disc test pressing of master 182-A
12.HÉRODIADE: Sul mio sen la nutrice ahimè! … Egli e bel come il ciel (Phanuel, sans cesse je cherche ma mère ... (Massenet)6:32
 18-22 July 1910; Paris, unpublished wax master 269-A 
13.MEFISTOFELE: L’altra notte in fondo al mare (Boito)5:56
 18-22 July 1910; Paris, unpublished wax master 222-B 
14.CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA: Voi lo sapete o mama (Mascagni)3:41
 18-22 July 1910; Paris, unpublished wax master 221-A 
15.MADAMA BUTTERFLY: Un bel di vedremo (Puccini)4:37
 18-22 July 1910; Paris, unpublished diamond disc test pressing of master 220-A 

A note on dating:
Ascertaining recording dates for the selections in this compilation is to some extent a matter of speculation. Each wax master disc preserved by the Edison Company was stored in a metal container often together with a slip of paper giving information about the recording (see pp. 8-9.) These slips usually contain a date presumed to correspond to the date of recording; the date usually falls within a month or two of other more general documentation in the Edison archive. Therefore, Marston assumes the date on the slips to be the recording date and has designated these dated recordings with the symbol “†.” Those wax masters that were not accompanied by a slip of paper or those slips of paper that do not have a date have been here designated with the symbol “√” and the date listed comes from the more general documentation found in the Edison archive. It should be noted that in some cases, a recording with a lower matrix number than another recording is inexpli­cably given a later recording date.

CD 1:
Accompaniment: All tracks accompanied by orchestra
Languages: Italian [1-13]; French [14]

CD 2:
Accompaniment: All tracks accompanied by orchestra
Languages: French [1-2, 11]; Italian [3-7, 9-10, 12-14]; German [8]

CD 3:
Accompaniment: All tracks accompanied by orchestra
Languages: Italian [1-4, 7-15]; German [5-6]

All discs in this collection are twelve-inch recordings except for Celestina Boninsegna’s published ten-inch disc, CD 1, track 7


Producers: Scott Kessler and Ward Marston

AD Transfers of original discs: Gerald Fabris and Ward Marston

Audio Conservation: Ward Marston

Audio Assistance: J. Richard Harris, Raymond Edwards, and Aaron Z Snyder

Photographs: Girvice Archer, Charles Mintzer, Thomas Edison National Historical Park, and Peter van der Waal

Booklet Design: Takeshi Takahashi

Marston would like to extend special gratitude to the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, the National Park Service, and the United States Department of the Interior for conserving and sharing its rare recorded treasures.|

Marston would like to thank the estate of Sir Paul Getty and the estate of John Stratton, Stephen R. Clarke, Executor, whose generous contributions made this project a reality.

Marston would like to thank the Friends of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, David Giovannoni, and the estate of John Stratton, Stephen R. Clarke, Executor for their generous contributions to the Edison archive, for the express purpose of upgrading to the highest technological standards its audio preservation equipment. Such generosity has insured that these unique audio documents have been preserved without degradation, and permits us all to hear them in the best possible sound.

Marston would like to thank an anonymous donor (Durante, Patron of the Arts) whose gift provided the impetus to expand what was to be a two CD-set to a three-CD set. Marston has a number of projects that could be either initiated or expanded through underwriting.

Marston would also like to thank Stephen R. Clarke, Gerald Fabris, Ramona Fasio, Vincent Giroud, Lawrence F. Holdridge, and Raymond Wile for their help in the production of this CD release.

Singer Biographies

ADELINA AGOSTINELLI [soprano] Bergamo, 1882–Buenos Aires, 1954. A student in Milan of Giuseppe Quiroli, whom she later married, Adelina Agostinelli made her debut in Pavia, 1903, as Fedora. In 1904 she premiered at La Scala with Mattia Battistini in Simon Boccanegra and created for that house in 1911 the Marschallin in their first Rosenkavalier. She appeared with success in South America, Russia, Spain, England, and her native Italy. Between 1908 and 1910, Agostinelli was on the roster of the Manhattan Opera. One New York press notice indicates that her rendering of the “Suicidio” from La gioconda on a Manhattan Sunday night concert “kept her busy bowing in recognition to applause for three or four minutes.” Agnostinelli performed for several seasons at the Teatro Colón in Boito’s Mefistofele, La bohème, and Pagliacci. Her career continued into the mid-1920s when she retired to Buenos Aires where she taught. Agostinelli’s voice is captured on Edison cylinders and on Pathé, Fonografia-Nazionale (including duets with her second husband, tenor Pedro Tabanelli), and one extant test for Columbia in 1909.

CARLO ALBANI [tenor] Trieste, 1872. Carlo Albani was born of Italian and French parents, studied under Enrico Delle Sedie, and made his first appearance in La forza del destino in Milan. He sang Rhadamès at the Paris Opéra in 1910 (in French) and reprised this role in Rome at the Teatro Costanzi in 1916. Also at the Costanzi, Albani added Manrico in Il trovatore and Don Alvaro in La forza del destino. He sang with considerable success in St. Petersburg and also in the principal musical centers of North and South America, however his lack of presence in the U.S. might be explained by an interesting incident that occurred in 1907. Oscar Hammerstein booked Albani to sing in Il trovatore for the New York Manhattan Opera Company. The press was unkind to Albani and he disappeared after the second performance, breaching his contract and leaving the opera company without a Manrico. While singing with the San Carlo Opera in Boston, an officer of the law shadowed Albani during a performance of Il trovatore in conjunction with the legal difficulties associated with the New York Manahattan Opera Company, thus marking the closing of the tenor’s U.S. career. Albani’s repertoire was large, consisting of over forty operatic roles, but he is most closely identified with those in William Tell and Romeo and Juliette. He made cylinders for Edison and also recorded for Victor (Red Seal), Pathé, Odeon, and several small companies.

ORESTE BENEDETTI [baritone] Pisa, 1874–Novara, 1917. Originally a worker in a brick factory, Oreste Benedetti became acquainted with the father of Titta Ruffo, who arranged for his admission to the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome and for him to live with the “Ruffo” family. Young Titta, when he heard Benedetti sing, said, “I envied Benedetti’s voice so much, I would have liked to steal it. … It was a divine voice.” A student of Andrioli, Benedetti made his debut at Rome’s Teatro Quirino in 1894 as Count di Luna in Verdi’s Il trovatore. Performances in a number of Italian theaters followed and during the 1897–1898 season he appeared in Buenos Aires in several leading roles including Rigoletto. In 1898, Benedetti made his Teatro Costanzi debut as Valentin in Faust. Most of his career was centered in Italy and included roles such as Nelusko (L’Africaine), Gunther (Götterdämmerung), Telramund (Lohengrin), as well as the expected Verdi and Puccini parts. He last appeared in public as Kyoto in Mascagni’s Iris at the end of 1915. Only one commercial recording was issued of his voice, an Edison cylinder of a duet from La bohème with tenor Aristodemo Giorgini. Interestingly, all Edison publicity material referred to his first name in error as “Preste.”

CELESTINA BONINSEGNA [soprano] Reggio Emilia, Italy, 1877–Milano, 1947. Celestina Boninsegna’s parents were convinced of her vocal aptitude and provided the opportunity for studies at Liceo Rossini in Pesaro with Virginia Boccabadati. Her official debut was at Bari as Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust. In 1899 in Piacenza, she took part in Goldmark’s Queen of Sheba followed by Elsa in Lohengrin. In 1901 she sang Rosaura in the first Rome performance of Mascagni’s Le maschere. Through the following decade she appeared in many of the world’s principal opera houses, including Covent Garden, La Scala, and the Metropolitan, where she made her debut in 1906 with Caruso in Aida. Her New York appearances were limited, reviewers preferring the “icy” yet elegant Emma Eames to the “slavish demeanor” and “ample form swathed in chocolate-colored underwear” of Boninsegna’s presentation. She had much greater success with the Boston Opera, adding in addition to her two Met roles, Aida and Santuzza, the parts of Leonora (Il trovatore), Gioconda, Valentine (Les Huguenots), and Tosca. Her acting skills were not favorably compared to her contemporaries such as Bellincioni, Burzio, Storchio, and Destinn. Boninsegna’s voice was rich and resonant that was well suited to Verdi heroines. She was contracted for a series of Columbia and Edison records. The Columbias joined her earlier Italian Gramophone and Pathé recordings as operatic best sellers, but only one of her Edison sides was issued, despite the Edisons being technically superior. Some Pathé and further Gramophone records were made of Boninsegna in the later ’teens as her career came to a close. She retired from the stage in 1921 and spent the next two decades teaching singing. She later resided in the Verdi Casa di riposo in Milano.

ITALO CRISTALLI [tenor] Piacenza, Italy, 1879–Castel San Giovanni near Piacenza, 1932. Italo Cristalli studied at the Piacenza Conservatory and began singing small roles in that city’s opera house. His principal debut was Alfredo in La traviata in 1903. Later that year he had particular success as Lohengrin at the Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo. This was to become one of his principal roles. He sang at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome (1907 and 1919) and a season at the Metropolitan Opera, 1913–1914. There he was kept busy with Edgardo, Turiddu, Nemorino, Rodolfo, the Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier, and Clitandro in Wolf-Ferrari’s L’amore medico, as well as Sunday concerts. His career was truly international, as his performance venues included Madrid, Cairo, Buenos Aires, Japan, China, and Russia, as well as most opera houses in Italy (although, surprisingly, not La Scala). Other roles included Werther, Don Jose, Osaka (Iris) and Siegfried (Götterdämmerung). Only one Columbia record exists of his voice other than these previously unpublished Edison titles.

ELEONORA DE CISNEROS née Broadfoot [mezzo-soprano] New York, 1878–1934. Eleonora Broadfoot studied under Madam Murio-Celli and made her debut on 24 November 1899 at the Metropolitan as Rossweisse in Walküre. During the 1899–1900 Met season she sang Lola (Cavalleria rusticana, 20 January 1900); Amneris (Aida, 22 February 1900); and Genie (Die Zauberflöte, 30 March 1900). In 1901 she went to Paris to work with Trabadello (Mary Garden’s teacher), Victor Maurel, and Jean de Reszke. During the next two years she was busy singing in the Italian provinces. In 1904 came an engagement for the autumn season at Covent Garden as Amneris, followed by Ulrica, Princess de Bouillon (Adriana Lecouvreur), and Ortrud. In the 1905–1906 season de Cisneros debuted at La Scala as the Countess in Tchaikovsky’s Dama di Picche and on 29 March 1906 she created Candia in Franchetti’s La figlia di Jorio. De Cisneros also sang with the Hammerstein company (1906), the San Carlo in Naples (1910), and the newly established Chicago Opera (1910) before touring Australia with Nellie Melba in 1911. De Cisneros also sang in Paris, St. Petersburg, Vienna, Lisbon, and several South American cities. Her operatic repertoire comprised most of the leading contralto and dramatic soprano roles, but her favorites were Dalila, Carmen, Amneris, and Brünnhilde in Walküre. De Cisneros recorded for Pathé, Edison (both published cylinders and discs), and Columbia.

MARIE DELNA [contralto] Paris, 1875–Paris, 1932.  Marie Delna’s given name was Marie Ledant. She was a pupil of Rosine Laborde and made her debut at the Opéra-Comique in 1892 as Didon in Berlioz’s Les Troyens à Carthage. There, she created no fewer than nine roles including Charlotte in the first Paris performance of Massenet’s Werther (1893), Marceline in the world premiere of Bruneau’s L’attaque du moulin (1893), and Dame Quickly in the first Paris performance of Verdi’s Falstaff (1894) with the composer in attendance. In 1898, she made her Paris Opera debut as Fidès in Meyerbeer’s Le profète with the acclaimed tenor, Albert Alvarez. Delna announced her retirement in 1903 when she married M.A.H. de Saône, but within three years, she was back at the Opéra-Comique as Marceline. In 1907–1909, she sang at the Théâtre de la Gaîté Lyrique in La vivandière, Orphée,  L’attaque du moulin, Le profète, and La favorite. Delna was engaged by the Metropolitan to sing five roles in the winter of 1910 but owing to differences with maestro Toscanini, she sang only two performances of Orphée.  All of her additional roles were cancelled. While in New York, she sang in a performance of L’attaque du moulin, not at the Met, but at the New Theater (at 61st Street and Central Park West), with Edmond Clément as Dominique and Dinh Gilly as the miller Merlier.  Back in Paris, she created Tilli in Lazzari’s La lépreuse in 1912. By the end of World War I, Delna’s career was virtually over.  She made occasional concert appearances, and in 1925, she sang in Léo Puget’s operetta, Maurin des Maures at the Folies-Dramatiques. Having separated from her husband, she supported herself by teaching. After a brief illness, she died in 1932. Her first records were a large group for Pathé. In 1910, while in New York, she recorded five cylinders for Edison, all published.  Presumably on that day, she recorded the same arias on twelve-inch discs, all unpublished. Only “Che farò” from Orféo still survives at the Edison archive (CD 1, track 13.) In the summer of 1911, Delna made another group of twelve-inch disc recordings for Edison, three of which exist as wax masters issued here for the first time (CD 1, track 14) (CD 2, tracks 1 and 2). In 1913, Delna made four Edison ten-inch discs, three of which were published. All of Marie Delna’s published recordings can be heard on Marston issue The Complete Recordings of Marie Delna and Selected Recordings of Jeanne Marié De’Lisle 52056.

For more information on Delna’s life and career, see Peter van der Waal’s article in The Record Collector, September, 2010, vol. 55, no. 3, pp. 154-186 and Vincent Giroud’s essay contained in the Marston issue.

ANDRÉS DE SEGUROLA [bass] Valencia, Spain, 1874–Barcelona, 1953. Andrés Segurola studied with Varvaro in Barcelona and made a successful debut there in 1898. In the course of the next few years he sang at various Italian and French theaters. Then in 1902 he was invited to the Met by Maurice Grau; he appeared at the very end of the season in two performances of Aida. The following season he was engaged at La Scala. His career continued in Europe until 1908; in that year he was booked by Hammerstein to appear at the Manhattan. There he sang a particularly memorable Basilio in a cast that included Tetrazzini, Sammarco, and Gilibert. In 1909 he returned to the Met and was to remain a member of the company for the next eleven years. He sang Basilio, Méphistophélès, Rodolfo in Sonnambula, Colline, and Alvise. He created Jake Wallace in the world premiere of Puccini’s La fanciulla del West and Nicolao in Gianni Schicchi. Gradually competition from other bassos, chiefly Léon Rothier and Adamo Didur, reduced him to comprimario roles such as Lodovico in Otello and Sparafucile in Rigoletto. After he left the Met, he continued to give concerts. He appeared in several films, including with Grace Moore in the 1934 film One Night of Love. He recorded for G&T, beginning in 1903, then for the Gramophone Company, and finally he recorded several Victor Red Seal ensemble and duet recordings.

MARIA GALVANY [soprano] Mancha Real, (Andalusia) 1875–Madrid, 1927. Maria Galvany studied under Napoleone Verger at his private school in Madrid. This resulted in an intensive period of training as a bel canto soprano at the hands of people who were familiar with 19th century technique. She made her debut in Cartegena, 1896 in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor. Her Teatro Real debut was in the same role on 4 January 1898, in which a reviewer referred to her as an old-style soprano. During the next two years she gained a wide range of experience both as the “star” of a small troupe of singers and as one of the leading sopranos of a national company; she made a career choice at this early age to become a freelance bel canto soprano limiting her repertoire to those of the early-to-mid 19th century operas. She left the Teatro Real and moved on to Portugal (1900–1901) in which an article described her as “an enchanting Lucia, a magnificent Amina, splendid in La traviata, extraordinary in the Barber, and sublime in Rigoletto.” She performed in Italy, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Holland, Russia, France, Germany, Egypt, and Ukraine. She also received a royal decree from Queen Alexandra, consort of Edward VII, to sing at Buckingham Palace in 1909. She performed in the San Francisco bay area in 1912. Galvany completed a twenty-year career and retired at age forty. She died some twelve years later in Madrid. Her repertoire was limited, her travel extensive, and yet she did not sing at La Scala, Covent Garden, the Metropolitan, or the Paris Opéra. She appealed to a wide constituency and she left a large recorded legacy.

(Biographic information provided by Robert Bunyard, The Record Collector, vol. 57, no. 1, March 2012, pp. 2-32.)

HEINRICH HENSEL* [tenor] Neustadt, Germany, 1874–Hamburg, 1935. Heinrich Hensel studied with Gustav Walter in Vienna, and later with Eduard Bellwidt in Frankfurt. His debut was in 1897 at the Freiburg Stadt Theatre, in Flotow’s Alessandro Stradella. He remained in Freiburg for three years. In 1900, he was secured by the Frankfurt Opera appearing as Lyonel in Flotow’s Martha, and continued to sing there until 1906. Tenure with the opera at Wiesbaden followed (1906–1911) where he appeared with great acclaim as Masaniello in Auber’s La muette de Portici; Erik in Die fliegende Holländer; Stolsing in Die Meistersinger, and Tannhäuser. Hensel sang at the Bayreuth Festival as Parsifal and Loge during its 1911 and 1912 seasons. New York City heard him at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1911 as Siegmund, Siegfried, Lohengrin, and Jenik in Smetana’s Bartered Bride. He sang at Covent Garden (1911–1914) singing Wagnerian repertoire, including London’s first staged Parsifal in 1914. From 1912 through 1929 he was the leading Heldentenor at the Hamburg Opera. He died in Hamburg in 1935. Hensel’s voice was captured by Pathé, the Gramophone Company, and Parlophon, but it was Edison who achieved the most sonically successful results.

GIUSEPPE KASCHMANN (Josip Kašman) [baritone] Lošinj (Lussino in what is now Croatia), 1850–Rome, 1925. Josip Kašman studied singing with Ivan Zajc in the Croatian capital of Zagreb. He also took lessons from Alberto Giovannini in Udine. His first public performance occurred in Zagreb in 1869. He was cast in the lead role in a production of the first full scale Croatian opera, Zajc’s Mislav, on 2 October 1870. Six years later he made his Italian operatic debut as Don Alphonse (Donizetti’s La favorite) in Turin. Before long, he had established himself as one of the best baritones in Italy, making an impressive debut at La Scala in the 1878–1879 season (Don Carlo.) It was during this phase of his career that he seems to have altered the Croatian spelling of his name to Giuseppe Kaschmann. He reached the peak of his success in the 1880s and 1890s, building an international reputation and performing at such important venues as Bayreuth in Parsifal and Tannhäuser and the Metropolitan Opera in 1883 and 1896, as well as continuing to appear at La Scala. Audiences in Spain, Portugal, Russia, Monaco, Egypt, Brazil, and Argentina also had an opportunity to hear him perform during his prime but he never sang in London. He was particularly renowned for his performances in operas by Verdi and Wagner, though his greatest role was probably Hamlet in Thomas’s opera. In 1903, he made five recordings in Milan for G & T. These are extremely rare and sought-after. They show that he possessed a fluent and flexible Italianate voice, which was characterized by a prominent vibrato and aristocratic phrasing. Reputedly he was an accomplished actor exhibiting a memorable stage presence. He was singing many major roles until he was nearly sixty, and continued to perform as late as 1921–1922, though by this stage of his career he switched to the buffo repertoire of Rossini, Donizetti, and other composers of comic opera. He also taught singing. His finest student was the celebrated buffo Salvatore Baccaloni.

PAOLA KORALEK* [soprano] Budapest, 1882–Viareggio, 1924. Entering the choir of the Budapest Royal Theater as a child, Paola Koralek eventually studied with Hans Richter and Arthur Nikisch. Her debut was at the Royal Theater in 1900 in Goldmark’s Queen of Sheba. She moved to Italy in 1903 and made her debut there in December at the Ciabreta of Savona as Tosca. This, Aida, and Gioconda she declared as her preferred roles, although she just as frequently sang Maddelena in Andrea Chenier. In 1908 Koralek appeared at the Vittorio Emanuele of Messina. The terrible earthquake that destroyed the city occurred while she was performing Aida. The opera house collapsed, killing the tenor, Angelo Gamba, but she survived. In 1910 she traveled to Montevideo for a season, returning to Italy for performances throughout the provinces. She appears to have ended her operatic career around 1914. Her issued recordings were for Pathé in 1912 and included groups of excerpts from Mascagni’s Isabeau (9) and La gioconda (6). Of her Edison discs none was issued.

UMBERTO MACNEZ* [tenor] Pesaro, Italy, 1883–Pesaro, 1947. Umberto Macnez first studied with Felice Coen in his native Pesaro. He made his debut in Buenos Aires, singing Count Almaviva to Luisa Tetrazzini’s Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia. His Covent Garden debut was in 1910, followed by a season at Rome’s Costanzi, 1910–1911. At the Metropolitan Opera he was a leading tenor during the 1912–1913 season, singing eight roles, including the title part in the Met premiere of Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann. At La Scala he made his debut during the 1916–1917 season as Rabaud’s Mârouf. He seems to have become less active in the 1920s, the last traced performance having been in Piacenza, 1927, as Alfredo in La traviata. His repertoire comprised a large number of the standard operatic roles, but those with which he is most closely identified are the principal tenor parts of the operas Rigoletto, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Manon, and La sonnambula. Macnez made a few recordings for the Gramophone Company in 1910 and several sides for Edison. Only one of the latter group was commercially issued.

POMPILIO MALATESTA [bass] Born in 1879, Malatesta was noted primarily for character and buffo roles. His career included La Scala, the Rome Costanzi, Covent Garden, and La Fenice in Venice, but the Metropolitan Opera in New York was his long-term home where he was on the roster from 1915 through 1939. There he appeared in dozens of small roles in Italian, as well as French and English. These included several world premieres (La fanciulla del West, Gianni Schicchi, and Merry Mount, to cite three). He also sang with the San Francisco Opera and in 1938 was in the La Scala premiere of Refice’s Margherita da Cortona.  What became of him after he left the Met in 1939 hasn’t been traced.

MARIE RAPPOLD* [soprano] London, 1873–Los Angeles, 1957. Marie Rappold was born Marie Winterroth to German parents in London. She studied voice in New York with Oscar Saenger after her parents had immigrated to the U.S. In the 1890s Marie married Dr. Julius Rappold in Brooklyn, whom she later divorced. Rappold made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Sulamith in Goldmark’s Die Königin von Saba in 1905 and performed an additional twenty-three roles, including Elsa, Euridice, Desdemona, Leonora in Il trovatore, and the Woodbird in Siegfried. In 1913, Rappold wed tenor Rudolf Berger who died just two years later. Rappold left the Metropolitan Opera in 1920. During the 1920s she appeared in Havana with the Chicago Opera. In 1925 she appeared before an audience of 20,000 in New York’s Yankee Stadium with tenor Bernardo DeMuro singing one of her major roles: Aida. In the later 1930s she retired to Los Angeles where she taught until the year before her death. Rappold was an exclusive Edison artist, having begun with cylinders in 1906 and continuing on cylinders and then discs as one of Edison’s most popular sopranos. Her recorded repertoire ran the gamut from popular songs of the day and concert literature, through arias and duets from Verdi, Wagner, and Puccini.

LEO SLEZAK [tenor] Šumperk (Mährisch-Schönberg), 1873–Rottach-Egern (Upper Bavaria, Germany), 1946. Leo Slezak was one of the greatest singer-personalities of the period with a rumbustious sense of humor. Slezak had taken singing lessons with baritone Adolf Robinson before making his debut in Brno in 1896. He performed in Breslau and Berlin. He sang Siegfried and Lohengrin at Covent Garden in 1900 and joined the Vienna Hofoper ensemble in 1901. Except for a hiatus between 1912 and 1917, Slezak remained on the Hofoper roster until 1926. Slezak performed at the Metropolitan Opera between 1909 and 1913. Met audiences acclaimed him in performances of works by Wagner and Verdi, becoming one of the most famous Otellos of his generation after performing the role at the Met in 1909 with Arturo Toscanini conducting. A huge man, he assumed a wide range of important roles: Belmonte, Des Grieux, Tannhäuser, Rodolfo, and Otello. He was enormously successful at the Metropolitan Opera and throughout Europe. He bade farewell to the operatic stage at the age of sixty with a performance of Pagliacci at the Vienna Staatsoper in 1933. Slezak also made a name for himself with his humorous autobiographies and as a comic-film star. He made well over 300 records, the earliest for Berliner in 1901, followed by G&T, Zonophone, and Odeon. He also recorded for Gramophone, Anker, Columbia, Edison, Favorite, Pathé, and Parlophon. His final recordings were made for Polydor, including a large group of electric discs.

DOMENICO VIGLIONE-BORGHESE [baritone] Mondivi, Italy, 1877–Milan, 1957. Domenico Viglione-Borghese made his debut in Lodi, 1899, as the Herald in Lohengrin and appeared in various Italian houses through 1901. He then gave up his career and immigrated to the U.S. where he worked in San Francisco as a dock and railroad worker. He continued vocal studies and was heard by Caruso, who recommended the baritone to a touring troupe featuring Luisa Tetrazzini. Having great success with this company in 1905–1906, he returned to Italy and, in 1907, made a second debut as Amonasro in Parma. He was so successful that he was soon appearing regularly at the Teatro Costanzi and at La Scala. While he was noted as Iago, Barnaba, Tonio, and most of the more dramatic Italian roles, he excelled as Jack Rance in Puccini’s La fanciulla del West, a role he had created for Italy at the Teatro Constanzi in 1911. His career continued until 1940. Viglione-Borghese’s published records were for Fonotipia circa 1914 and for Polydor a decade later. His first records, however, were the two disc recordings he made for Edison in 1911, neither of which was published. We issued one of these on our Edison Legacy volume 1; the other is presented here.

CAROLINA WHITE* [soprano] Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1885–Rome, 1961. Carolina White began vocal studies at the age of seventeen as a pupil of Weldon Hunt in Boston. She furthered her studies with Sebastiani and Roberti in Italy (1907) and Paolo (Paul) Longone, who she married and subsequently divorced. Her stage debut was as Gutrune in Götterdämmerung at the Teatro San Carlo, 1908. She appeared with the Boston and Chicago Opera companies from 1910–1914; she was Minnie in the Chicago premiere of Puccini’s La fanciulla del West (fifteen days after the Met world premiere) and the title role in the American premiere of Wolf-Ferrari’s Il segreto di Susanna. Other roles she assumed included Elsa, Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, Salome in Massenet’s Hérodiade, Barbara in Victor Herbert’s Natoma, and Maliella in Wolf-Ferrari’s I gioielli della Madonna. While in Chicago, she complained of being overworked and underpaid, so in 1914, despite excellent reviews and not yet having reached thirty years of age, she left the operatic stage in favor of vaudeville. Her career slowly faded, one momentary flicker having been as Caruso’s co-star in his 1918 silent film, My Cousin. Her work in this film demonstrates a charming personality and considerable beauty. What became of her after 1918 isn’t known, other than that she died in Rome in 1961. Her published records are a group for Columbia (1911–1914) and one Edison cylinder (1910). The same year, she made a group of discs for Edison, but these have remained unissued until our Edison Legacy series.


*These artists appeared on Marston’s The Edison Legacy vol. one issue number 52042

Volume one of our series The Edison Legacy contained thirty-six unpublished disc recordings made a century ago under the supervision of Thomas A. Edison, inventor of the phonograph. Re-mastered from original discs housed at the sound archive of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, here is volume two comprising an additional offering of unpublished recordings, many of which even Edison himself never heard. We are grateful to the T.E.N.H.P. for permitting us to release these fascinating documents for the first time. The recordings in this set were chosen based on the merit of the singing as well as the reputations of the various singers. Some names are well known to record collectors, while others are obscure, so we have included a biographical sketch for each singer.

One thing that makes these recordings distinctive is the sheer superiority of sound quality that Edison was able to achieve between 1910 and 1912, as he was beginning to experiment with disc recording. His process was capable, for example, of reproducing sibilants such as “s” and “ch,” almost always lacking on other acoustic recordings. He was not, however, as successful in capturing lower frequencies, and the Edison recordings tend to lack the sense of depth sometimes heard on Gramophone Company recordings from the same period. How Edison achieved the sonic clarity that was in many ways superior to his competitors’ is not fully known, for he made certain that every aspect of his recording technique was kept secret, with no paper trail. Only Walter Miller, head of the recording division, understood the entire process. Edison recorded discs for nearly three years before any were published and in fact, of the first 1000 recorded, fewer than twenty-five were ever released. Why were so many rejected? It seems to have been the result of Edison’s personal involvement with the disc-recording project and his idiosyncracies concerning the human voice.

A few facts concerning Edison and his favorite invention:

In 1877, Edison was attempting to develop an alternative to Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone that would circumvent Bell’s patents. The phonograph was actually an inadvertent byproduct of Edison’s experiments with sound transmission. He initially used strips of waxed paper to capture sound vibrations, but his first recordings that could be played back were made on a rotating tinfoil cylinder with an embossing stylus making vertical vibrations. It is a fact, but not well known, that Edison also conceived the idea of recording on to a tinfoil disc, but he did not pursue that option. After a flurry of initial publicity, Edison decided to put the phonograph aside as investors were eager for him to develop the incandescent lightbulb. It wasn’t until January 1886 that he was able to resume work on the phonograph; consequently almost a decade of potential sound documentation was lost to history. In the mid-1880s, Chichester Bell, a cousin of Alexander’s, and Charles Sumner Tainter, began making improvements to the phonograph, which gave Edison added incentive to resume work on his invention. The tinfoil cylinder was replaced by one made of wax, which permitted the grooves to be cut into the surface. This improved cylinder could be played back numerous times and could be preserved. By 1888, Edison felt confident to begin demonstrating the phonograph to public audiences. His initial exhibitions used musical selections played on a variety of instruments recorded in his laboratory. In order to further publicize his amazing invention, Edison dispatched agents to secure recordings of such important celebrities as Tennyson, Browning, Gladstone, Bismarck, Arthur Sullivan, and Johannes Brahms playing a bit of his First Hungarian Dance. Some of these recordings survive today though sadly, most of Edison’s recordings by prominent musicians were destroyed or lost. So many other important voices of the 19th century could have been preserved, but Edison’s primary objective was to promote the phonograph as a dictation machine for business. He simply did not grasp the importance of his invention as a way to capture the voices of his era. There were, however, a few forward looking individuals who acquired phonographs from Edison and began making their own celebrity recordings. Notable among these was Julius Block in Russia, whose collection dating back to 1891 is available on Marston’s The Dawn of Recording (53011).

It wasn’t until the late 1890s that Edison began issuing cylinders under his own aegis. He ignored the possibility of recording great artists, confining his repertoire to popular ditties and comic sketches. During the early years there was no way to mass-produce cylinders except by recording the same selections over and over again. Additional copies could also be made by re-recording from one machine to another, an extremely time consuming process that often yielded poor results.

The 1890s saw the introduction of Emile Berliner’s gramophone, which recorded onto a flat disc, with the cutting stylus making grooves with lateral vibrations. This system had several advantages, foremost of which was the ability to press multiple copies from a master disc. Berliner’s first discs were vastly inferior to cylinder recordings, but by 1900, such significant improvements had been made that the flat disc gramophone began to give the cylinder phonograph serious competition. The disc format increased in popularity and disc companies in Europe and America began recording many of the major operatic celebrities of the day. Not only could discs be mass-produced, but the disc also had the advantage of a greater time duration. By 1903 the twelve-inch disc had been introduced, with a capacity of four and a half minutes of music compared with the two and a half minutes of a cylinder.

Edison solved the problem of cylinder duplication in 1902 with his “gold-mold” process, and in 1905 he finally began producing two-minute operatic cylinders. While many of the prominent names had already signed contracts with disc companies, Edison managed to procure the services of such important singers as Mary Garden, Pierre Cornubert, Antonio Scotti, Anton van Rooy, and an unknown Irish tenor who would become one of the century’s great stars, John McCormack. In an attempt to catch up to the disc companies, Edison introduced a four-minute cylinder in 1908 and within a couple years had added such celebrities as Leo Slezak, Alesandro Bonci, and Sarah Bernhardt to his roster. Similar in appearance to the two-minute cylinder, the four-minute variety had a narrower groove width permitting longer duration. The new cylinder did not score an immediate success, however, since it could not be played on the two-minute machines. The four-minute cylinders also proved problematic because the narrow grooves were less able to withstand the stylus pressure of the reproducer, causing them to wear quickly. The Edison Company continued to promote its new cylinders but it was becoming evident that the disc had gained ascendancy.

For some time Walter Miller had been urging Edison to enter the disc market, but he had refused, believing his cylinder to be the superior recording medium. While Edison was in Europe in 1909, Miller conducted some disc-recording experiments on his own, and when Edison returned, Miller finally convinced him to implement plans for a disc-recording project. Edison, now in his middle 60s and almost completely deaf, suddenly became keenly enthusiastic about developing a disc record superior to all others. During the next five years, he invested an estimated two million dollars and began immersing himself in every aspect of the project.

Some technical details concerning Edison’s discs are contained in the extract below, from the article “Edison and the Diamond Disc” by Angus Joss, published in The American Record Guide, December 1947, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 99-103:

Jonas Aylesworth, his (Edison’s) chief chemist, was instructed to find a suitable surface for the new disc. The laminated surface, a phenol condensation veneer over a body of compressed wood pulp especially treated to be impervious to atmospheric conditions, was finally decided upon. Since a longer playing record was needed, Edison chose … 150 grooves to the inch. He had known for several years that the weakness of the wax record was in its pliancy. … Celluloid was of course considered, but this material did not lend itself to the conditions of a laminated record with a cheap filler and there were also patents with which to be reckoned. … Many chemical experiments were performed in search for a new material which would be pliable, indestructible, and above all so perfectly smooth that no scratching sounds would mar the quality of the music. Edison said of his disc record: “I made a thicker record of greater solidity which would not shake and vibrate as a whole when played. I developed an extremely hard and smooth surface for the record so that the sound waves would not be flattened out when the diamond point passed over them.” … Ten months were spent in the perfecting of the recorder and the reproducer. The last five months were the most intensive for the solution was at long last in sight. The diamond reproducer, the ultimate in sound reproducing devices for many years, was developed by May 1911. From the beginning of his phonograph, Edison had tried 2300 designs of reproducers to attain the climax. The ultimate one was a most peculiar device which should be described in detail. The larger diaphragm was composed of forty thicknesses of Japanese vegetable parchment, laminated and compressed while heated, but which when cooled retained an .00511-inch thickness. A graduated cork disc was fastened by shellac to the underside of the diaphragm as a reinforcement. A silken cord kept taught by tension was tied on the top side to an ivory fixture. The lower end was fastened to a pivoted fulcrum, on the other side of which was set a diamond cone. “By adopting a permanent diamond point,” Edison said, “I got away from making the sound grooves ‘grind in’ steel needles. By mechanically feeding the so-called tone arm across the record, I eliminated having the delicate sound grooves drag the arm across. In other words I do not use delicate over-tones to move machinery.” The fulcrum was pivoted in a floating hinged weight permanently kept in alignment by a limit pin and adjusting screw. The outlet of the reproducer was fastened to a scientifically tapered tone arm connected to an oval brass horn of ample acoustical capacity. The whole formed a non-metallic transmission of the vibrations from the point to the solid gasketed diaphragm, the reproducer having no tone of its own and entirely free from metallic harshness.

Edison’s discs were vertically cut and used the same size groove as the four-minute cylinder, giving him an advantage over competitors in allowing more time to be recorded—over four minutes on a ten-inch side and as much as seven minutes for a twelve-inch side. Disc recording first took place in Edison’s New York studio but within a few months, he had set up disc recording facilities in London and Paris. Between 1910 and 1913, approximately fifteen hundred discs were recorded, mostly ten-inch but some twelve-inch sides as well. A seven-minute disc should have been a strong selling point but oddly, Edison chose to issue only ten-inch discs. Thankfully, over 150 twelve-inch disc recordings were saved and are now part of the T.E.N.H.P.’s archive. These include more than 120 wax masters that were never electroplated for pressing. Each wax master disc was stored in a sealed, sturdy-metal container, and it is likely that they were never played. A smaller number of twelve-inch test pressings made by the Edison laboratory during the 1920s also exist at the Edison archive.

Edison became increasingly interested in the musical content of his new disc recordings, despite the fact that he had little knowledge of music and no musical ability. In 1910, he purchased a set of the Grove Encyclopedia of Music, embarking upon a self-education program, reading about all manner of musical subjects. He held strong and often eccentric opinions on music in general and singing in particular. He felt that only certain types of voices were appropriate for phonograph recording, with a particular distaste for what he called “tremolo.” He was extremely critical of many of the singers whom he recorded, and was reluctant to publish records which he personally disliked. Humbert Tosi, an Edison representative, was dispatched to Europe to audition singers for the new label. Several hundred voice trial audition cylinders were made for Edison and his team to hear, but despite the fact that many were excellent, none of these singers was chosen to record for the company. The best of these tests can be heard on Marston’s The Edison Voice Trials (52025). An example of Edison’s prodigious waste of talent and money is the acclaimed Finnish soprano, Aino Ackté, for Edison published only one of the 30 recordings she made for the company. Ironically, Edison’s dislike of so many of the voices he recorded might account for the existence of the unplayed wax master discs at the Edison archive.

Some of the inventor’s notes on various auditioned recordings survive. He apparently liked soprano Adelina Agostinelli, noting that “her voice stands out.” But he did not appreciate tenor Carlo Albani in two arias by Verdi : “No good—tremolo fierce. Rotten voice. Don’t want any more of this man if this is a sample.” But he was pleased by a Spanish serenade ditty recorded by Albani: “Very loud yet good. He is a loud singer, but somewhat mellow.” One of the truly great singers who made Edison discs was the Croatian baritone Josip Kašman, who sang under the name Giuseppe Kaschmann. Unfortunately he had a tremolo. Of his recording of an aria from Verdi’s Don Carlo, Edison noted: “This singer has mellow voice but bad tremolo, but not so bad as he could be used alone, as a low baritone he’s more mellow than most of these kind of singers.”

Edison was also often bothered by the sound of the orchestral accompaniments. He preferred using a harp combined with a few strings and perhaps a woodwind instrument. (It seems likely that his strange opinions may have resulted from his hearing deficiency.) As the years passed, he seems to have given up on the harp idea and permitted the choice of instruments to be made by his musical directors.

Late in 1912, Edison introduced his first disc phonograph and the initial offering of his “Diamond Disc” records. These first Edison discs played quite smoothly with little surface noise but within a year or so, customers complained that the edges of the discs were curling away from the core, making them impossible to play. A new formula was developed, which proved to be more stable but the resultant discs were quite noisy compared to the previous issues. During World War I, Edison’s pressings became even noisier since some of the chemicals that he was using had come from Germany and were no longer procurable. By the early 1920s, the etched label was replaced by paper and the pressing material was greatly improved. With the advent of electrical recording in 1925, Edison stubbornly refused even to experiment with the new technology, continuing to record and issue acoustic discs and cylinders. It wasn’t until late 1927 that Edison finally began experimenting with electrical recording and in 1928 he issued his first electric discs in both lateral and vertical formats. By this time, however, it was too late for Edison to catch up to the competition and in October 1929, the record division of Thomas A. Edison, Inc. closed its doors.

Since 1956, Edison’s laboratory and home in West Orange, New Jersey have been designated a National Historic Park under the United States National Park Service. There, much of the equipment that Edison himself used for research and experimentation still exists and every effort is being made to restore all of the buildings to their original state during Edison’s time. Housed at the site are the Edison paper archive, comprising approximately five million documents. The most relevant of these are being microfilmed and gradually will be available through the Internet. The most important documents, together with commentary and analysis, are also being published in book form.

The site, which also contains a large collection of Edison’s recordings and related artifacts, has made it possible for us to issue important Edison recordings. During the summer of 2010, I had the pleasure of spending six days with Gerald Fabris, Curator of the Edison museum and sound archive, to make state of the art digital transfers of the surviving twelve-inch wax masters. A great deal of experimentation went into the choice of styli to be used, which made a tremendous difference in achieving optimum sonic reproduction. We carefully played each disc preserving the audio as high resolution WAV files. The playback equipment at the archive is of the highest quality, and our efforts to preserve this material is commensurate with the latest technology. What a thrill it was for me to be the first to hear many of these discs.

This issue comprises thirty-eight wax masters, four twelve-inch diamond disc test pressings, and one ten-inch diamond disc published recording. Prior to the unsealing of the metal canisters that hold the wax masters, no absolute documentation existed for dating many of these recordings. We are now able to cite precise recording dates for many of the wax masters since in their original containers, each master is accompanied by a hand-written note containing such information as the singer’s name, selection title, and often the recording date. Unfortunately, we cannot be absolutely certain of the recording dates for those items that exist only as test pressings. In the re-mastering process I have taken care to reproduce each recording at its correct pitch. I have applied just enough digital processing to reduce the high level of surface noise, but never so much as to interfere with vocal timbre and nuance. Some of these recordings are flawed by a prominent mid-range hum, probably a result of acoustic transfer of turntable motor noise. I have attempted to reduce this acoustic hum, but occasionally, it can still be detected.

Volume three of the Edison Legacy will comprise further examples from this collection featuring the voices of Dan Beddoe, Lucretia Bori, Clementine de Vere, Maria Farneti, Edoardo Ferrari-Fontana, Lucette Korsoff, Valentin Jaume, Maria Labia, Carmen Melis, Elisabeth Schumann, Marguerite Sylva, Maggie Teyte, Elvino Ventura, and Ellen Beach Yaw.

The Thomas Edison National Historical Park continues to make digital transfers of their audio archive, and as additional Edison material becomes available, we look forward to producing further offerings in our Edison Legacy series.