Claudia Muzio

Claudia Muzio : Claudia Muzio, "A Kiss in the Dark", Herbert: Orange Blossoms (rec. 1924)

(For 65attila) The legendary Italian soprano Claudia Muzio (1889-1936), known as one of the great tragedienne on the operatic stage, in the waltz song "A Kiss in the Dark" from Victor Herbert's operetta Orange Blossoms. The recording was made for Edison in 1924, when Muzio was in her prime.

The following biographical notes on Muzio come from Andrea's subito - cantabile: A site for collectors of Great Singers of the Past (
"Muzio's father was a stage director at Covent Garden and the Met, her mother a chorus singer. Among her teachers was Annetta Casaloni, Verdi's first Maddalena in Rigoletto, who probably helped her to obtain engagements at Turin in 1911/13/14. She made her debut in Massenet's Manon (Arezzo 1910). In the Covent Garden summer season she attracted considerable attraction in some of her best roles as Desdemona, Margherita in Mefistofele, Tosca and Mimì, but was never to return to that theatre. In the USA, however, she quickly became a much admired member, first of the Met company (debut there as Tosca), where she remained for seven seasons and reappeared briefly in 1934 (and where she sang Giorgetta in the world premiere of Puccini's Trittico). She also appeared at the Chicago Opera where she made her debut as Aida in 1922 to which she returned for nine seasons. During this period she was also much in demand in the principal South American opera houses. In Italy she made some notable appearances under Toscanini at la Scala in 1926/27, but thereafter sang mostly in Rome. Muzio's repertory embraced all the leading Verdi and Puccini roles, as well as those of the verismo school. Her stage presence must have been most impressive. In private life she was dignified and withdrawn. It was a widely held belief that she had no private life but was devoted wholly to her work. On stage she was the great tragedienne, the Duse of the lyric theatre. Muzio died at an early age of 47. Various sources speak of heart desease, suicide, cancer, kidney-desease and even poison...

The tenor Giacomo Lauri-Volpi wrote of Muzio "singing with that unique voice of hers made of tears and sighs and restrained interior fire." The years around 1930, were probably her best, precisely those in which she did not record! Between 1924 and 1934 there is a ten-year gap. The missing period would seem to be the very one in which her interpretations had matured while her voice was still in prime condition. The early records may lack the intensity and creativeness of her later recordings, and in the famous Columbias one is aware of some physical limitations (uneasy high notes, flatness, mannerisms in style and enunciation, vowels!), but there is a pathos, an inner committment and charm in her singing that is immensely moving and touching. Only a few sopranos equalled her in this aspect of emotional involvement."