Claudia Muzio was one of the great singers of the 20th century, and she had a profound influence on Maria Callas. She died quite young, too young to have made a significant number of recordings in the electric age.
Muzio is represented by recordings from various stages of her career, but few of them are from the period of her greatest successes in the late 1920s and early 1930s. She also recorded primarily for two companies whose distribution was limited and erratic: Pathé and Edison. Muzio’s Pathé discs are of mixed quality due to Pathé’s problematic recording process – artists recorded to cylinder masters which were then pantographically transferred to disc masters for making stampers, and frequency range loss and distortion often occurred during the cylinder-to-disc processing. Her Edison recordings, however, represent not only some of the best operatic recordings released by that company, but also Muzio’s power and ability to project her personal intensity through the difficult acoustic recording process. She was aided at Edison by chief recordist Walter Miller and staff conductor Cesare Sodero.
In selecting these recording from youtube, I have tried to choose recordings that were done for Edison and that also were in her strongest period. The only exception to this was the aria from La Bohème, which she made in 1935, a year before her death.
Muzio was an extremely expressive singer. Note that I don’t say emotional, with a lot of sobbing and histrionics. She used her voice to color the words and bring new meaning to them. Callas did listen to her recordings, and although it is not possible to say what Callas did and did not like about Muzio, Callas was flattered when compared to Muzio.