One of the longest running shows on American radio, Opera Is My Hobby debuted on Kansas Public Radio (then KANU) in September 1952, during the very first week the station was on the air! Every week, Dr. James Seaver selects recordings from his vast collection of LPs, CDs, 78s and even wax cylinder recordings for programs spotlighting legendary performers of the past, as well as up- and-coming singers. Recent shows have included tributes to tenor Jussi Bjoerling and soprano Elisabeth Schwartzkopf, highlights from the Victor Blue Label recordings from the early 20th-century, plus excerpts from Mozart's The Magic Flute and Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus.
The artist(s): 15 August: The Artistry of the Italian Mezzo-soprano Ebe Stignani
This wonderful singer was born in 1904 in Naples. She studied voice at the Naples Conservatory with Agostino Roche. The director of the San Carlo Theater heard her in a school concert and engaged her to make her operatic debut at the San Carlo in 1925, at the age of twenty-one, in the taxing but great mezzo role of Amneris in Verdi's AIDA. Her debut was so sensational that Toscanini engaged her for La Scala, where she made her debut as Eboli in Verdi's DON CARLO. She remained as the first mezzo of La Scala until her retirement from opera in 1953.
Strangely enough, she never sang at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, but she did sing at the San Francisco Opera and had great operatic triumphs at Covent Garden in London and elsewhere in Europe and South America. We were fortunate to hear her sing in Donizetti's LA FAVORITA at the Rome Opera in 1953, toward the end of her great international career. I believe that she had one of the most perfect and powerful mezzo voices I ever heard on the operatic stage. On our program she will sing music from Verdi's AIDA, DON CARLO, and the "Manzoni Requiem." She will also sing music from Bellini's NORMA and Donizetti's LA FAVORITA.
Engineer(s): Chubias Smith