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Picture of Giacomo Meyerbeer

Giacomo Meyerbeer

A Discography of Vintage Recordings 1889 - 1955

Author(s): Robert Ignatius Letellier

Book Description

ARSC Awards for Excellence, 2014: Best Historical Research in Classical Music (Certificate of Merit).

This book presents a discography of recordings made from the works of Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791–1864) – from the inception of recording techniques in 1889 until the dominance of the long-playing record in 1955. It is a testimony to the once-universal fame of the composer and the esteem in which in his works were held. During that period some nearly 2000 artists (at least 1065 of them singers) recorded arias and ensembles from all six of the French operas of Meyerbeer's maturity (Robert le Diable, Les Huguenots, Le Prophète, L'Étoile du Nord, Dinorah, L'Africaine), as well as selections from other works, orchestral pieces, and a variety of arrangements for band and other instruments. Covering more than 150 different pieces, the whole of this recorded legacy makes Meyerbeer one of the most popular classical composers of any age.

Many of the legendary names of this Golden Age of Song were devoted to Meyerbeer's compositions (like Aumonier, Amato, Gilion, Rethberg, Lazzari, Barrientos, Delmas, Slezak, Belhomme, Branzell, Lehmann, Hempel, Escalais, Ancona, De Lucia, De Angelis, De Cisneros, Tamagno, Rothier, Pertile, Ruffo, Siems, Kurz, Caruso, Chaliapin). This discography is integral to the history of opera, the nature of lyric recording, and the story of song and vocal technique. It is divided into chapters listing the works recorded, the singers, orchestras, bands and other musicians who recorded pieces from the operas (with details of the labels, places, dates, matrix and record numbers), as well as providing anthologies of modern transfers of the some of the old 78 records to modern media (LP, CD, MP3), and also listing a bibliography devoted to vintage records and singers from the early days of recording.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-5274-6
ISBN-10: 1-4438-5274-0
Date of Publication: 16/09/2013
Pages / Size: 430 / A5
Price: £49.99


Richard Arsenty was educated at the University of Illinois in Biology Education and Library Science. After teaching for seven years at the high school, college and university levels, he went to work as a libretto translator for MRF Records in New Jersey, later becoming Science Reference Librarian at Purchase College near New York City. He translated more than 160 libretti for organizations such as Opera Orchestra of New York, The New York City Opera, The Waterloo Festival, Hungaraton Records, Orfeo Records and Opera Rara. His translations include all of Meyerbeer's operas. He died on 29 June 2013 after prolonged illness.

Robert Ignatius Letellier was educated in Grahamstown, Cambridge, Salzburg, Rome and Jerusalem. He is a member of Trinity College, Cambridge, the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham, and the Institute for Continuing Education at Madingley Hall, Cambridge. His publications total over 70 items, including books and articles on the late-seventeenth-, eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century novel (particularly the Gothic Novel and Sir Walter Scott), the Bible, and European culture. He has specialized in the Romantic opera, especially the work of Giacomo Meyerbeer (a four-volume English edition of his diaries, studies and analysis of his operas), Daniel-François-Esprit Auber, the opéra-comique, Ludwig Minkus and the Romantic Ballet.