As we continue to make fresh discoveries in the Archive’s holdings of metal masters, projects once thought impossible may yet become reality. We would welcome your thoughts on a number of proposed special issues (as distinct from our regular sets). Please contact us to give us a better idea as to preferences. We should add that it would not be our intention to issue these all at once! Few of us have bottomless pockets.

The proposed issues would probably be in the form of special edition ‘sets’. They are in the main, recordings of actual performances. Since the Gramophone Company first installed microphones at Covent Garden, the existence of these recordings has excited collectors, and special pressings of the many unpublished sides have changed hands for relatively large sums.

The Melba Farewell

Melba
Melba
Eleven sides were recorded live at Covent Garden in June 1926 on the occasion of Dame Nellie Melba’s Farewell. Three sides were published in 78 rpm form, but were plagued by noisy surfaces, exacerbated by the lower than usual recording level. All the metals are extant both at Hayes and in the Victor archive in the USA. There are faults in some of the Hayes metals, so any issue would be conditional on access to the Victor metals. The projected set would comprise 5 double-sided records plus Lord Stanley’s speech.

Chaliapin in Faust

Chaliapin’s Faust was recorded live at Covent Garden on 22nd June 1928. There are 10 metals extant from this performance and they include much of the extended first act duet with Hislop as well as extraordinarily vivid recordings of Chaliapin singing ‘Le veau d’or’ and ‘Vous qui faites l’endormie’. Only 2 of these sides were published as 78s. Our projected set would comprise 5 double-sided records.

Chaliapin in Boris Godunov

Chaliapin
Chaliapin
Twenty sides of Boris Godunov were recorded live at Covent Garden on 4th July 1928. A dozen or so of these have survived, of which 6 were published at the time, plus a further two after Chaliapin’s death. As with the Melba records, many of those published, especially DB 1181, 1182 and 1183 suffer from terrible surfaces. Amongst the extant metals is the ‘Polonaise’ sung by the great Italian mezzo, Irene Minghini-Cattaneo. To the best of our knowledge this has never appeared in any form – 78, LP or CD.
La Boheme

Only two metals exist from the performance given at Covent Garden in May 1926, with Sheridan as the Mimi and Minghetti as Rodolfo. Neither was published as a 78.

Caruso

Caruso
Caruso
Although many advanced collectors have good holdings of the 1902-1904 G & Ts in original form, we have received regular requests for their reissue. Unfortunately not too many of the metals exist, however it may be possible to add some of the 1904 Victor sides if the necessary permissions can be obtained.

Edison ‘Re-creations’

It is possible that in the near future, we may gain access to the Edison archive. Amongst surviving metals are many records of hugely important singers. Of course, all the records are vertically cut or ‘Hill and Dale’ and in the past not all collectors were able to play them. However, technology has moved full circle in this respect and with modern equipment there should be no problems. So we felt it right to ask your opinion also on a possible Edison issue.

 

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