Ezio Pinza

An Enchanting Evening with Ezio Pinza

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Britain's Living Era label has amassed a track record of impressive historical releases, in both classical and pop fields, and covering both individual singers and specific musical subgenres. This disc, devoted to Italian-American bass Ezio Pinza, extends that track record and brings together recordings that offer an outlook on his entire career -- something that hasn't been easily available until now. Pinza sang nearly 800 performances with the New York Metropolitan Opera in the 1920s and 1930s, later becoming one of the few operatic singers to successfully negotiate the switch to popular music. This collection of recordings, made between 1927 and 1952, gives strong examples of all his specialties, which included the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni and the role of French plantation owner Emile de Becque in the musical South Pacific, which included the song "Some Enchanted Evening" and several other standards. The tracks are both chronologically and logically organized, beginning with a trio of Don Giovanni examples, proceeding to other operatic roles, and thence to the beginnings of Pinza's move toward pop in the 1940s, to a generous selection of South Pacific numbers and onto some samples of Pinza's work as a pop star, complete with sweet-sounding female backup harmony singers. Pinza's commanding presence in opera may be unfamiliar to listeners who know him through his period of stardom on the musical stage, but his shaping of phrases to favor his rich delivery comes through clearly in the various Verdi and Puccini excerpts included. One strong point of Living Era's reissues is that they combine familiar material with real oddities. In the latter category here falls Pinza's Italian-accented version of the spiritual Deep River, dropped in between Tosti's La Serenata and the popular song Do You Remember? by piano virtuoso Mischa Levitzki. The remastering of all of the recordings is unusually good, and the age of the recordings never comes between the listener and one of the strongest vocal personalities of the twentieth century. A top-notch reissue collection that will stimulate listeners to seek out more of Pinza's recordings on both the operatic and popular sides.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Don Giovanni, opera, K. 527
1 1:46
2 1:17
3 3:21
Don Carlo, opera
4 4:00
La bohème, opera
5 2:23
La forza del destino, opera
6 4:36
Faust, opera
7 1:48
Ernani, opera
8 3:17
9
2:52
10 2:31
11
2:02
12 3:14
South Pacific, musical
13 2:28
14 3:04
15 3:32
16 3:16
Knickerbocker Holiday, musical play
17 3:17
18
3:08
19 3:35
20 3:22
21 2:58
Very Warm for May, musical in 2 acts
22 3:05
Swing Time, film music
23 2:42
24
2:16
25
2:18
26
3:19
blue highlight denotes track pick