Here is my tale of woe with respect to this mezzo. There are very few recordings of her on youtube. Pulling excerpts off of youtube makes my life much easier. But because I was determined to post this singer, I bought some of her recordings from ebay. When I received the recordings, they were shellac and 78 rpm. This meant buying turntable that could play 78rpm. Then, of course, one has to make an audio recording from the turntable, and then remaster the audio files. Whew! I will not run to do this again anytime soon.

I have three audio files that will be attached to the posting. When Besanzoni sings arias in languages that are not the originals, I will not translate these.

Why did I go to all of this trouble? Because this is one of best mezzo voices that I have ever heard. The style of singing and the guideposts by which to sing are completely different from anything and anyone we have today. If you listen to today’s “top” mezzos and then to Bensanzoni, I think that you will hear the difference.

Act 2, Trovatore

Stride la Vampa!
La folla indomita
corre a quel fuoco
lieta in sembianza;
urli di gioia
intorno echeggiano:
cinta di sgherri
donna s’ avanza!
Sinistra splende
sui volti orribili
la tetra fiamma
che s’alza al ciel!
Stride la vampa!
giunge la vittima
nerovestita,
discinta e scalza!
Grido feroce
di mortr levasi;
l’ eco il ripete
di balza in balza!
Sinistra splende
sui volti orribili
la tetra fiamma
che s’alza al ciel!

Act 2 Trovatore

The fire roars!
The restless mob
runs to the fire
with happy faces;
shouts of joy
echo around;
surrounded by killers
a woman is brought forth!
Evil shines
upon horrible faces
beside the gloomy flame
that rises to the sky!
The fire roars!
The victim arrives
dressed in black,
disheveled, barefoot!
A fierce shout
of death arises;
the echo repeats
from hill to hill!
Evil shines
upon horrible faces
beside the gloomy flame
that rises to the sky!

 

Samson et Dalilah, Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix, Saint-Saëns, sung in Italian

Gabriella Besanzoni-Italian mezzo-soprano

September 20, 1888 – July 8, 1962

Gabriella Besanzoni studied at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome where she was taught by Alessandro Maggi and Ibilda Brizzi. She made her debut at Viterbo in 1911 as Adalgisa. Because of her expansive middle register and rich low tones she decided to restudy and appeared as a mezzo-soprano at the Teatro Costanzi Rome in 1913 (Ulrica). She was very successful at La Scala, as Orfeo and Amneris, and in 1932 as Carmen and Mignon. In the 1910s and ‘20s Besanzoni was a star of the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and other South American opera houses. Her roles included Dalila, Carmen, Amneris, Lola, La Cieca, Preziosilla, Marina, Leonora in La Favorita, Mignon, Adalgisa, Isabella in L’Italiana in Algeri, not to forget the roles in the first performances of Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini and Marinuzzi’s Jacquerie. She returned to sing at the Colón until 1935. The artist also appeared at the Met opposite Caruso in the season 1919/20. She also made guest appearances at the opera houses of Chicago, Havana and Berlin. Carmen was the role that brought her fame and it was this part she chose for her farewell performance at the Terme di Caracalle in Rome (1939). After her retirement she dedicated herself to teaching.