I still find Anselmi's "aura amorosa" the most phenomenally elegant interpretation ever. When compared with Juan Diego Flórez (
Commentators often describe Giuseppe Anselmi (1876-1929) as being among the last exponents of the old Italian belcanto tradition. Michael Scott (in the Record of Singing, 1977) notes, however, that if Anselmi were a exponent of belcanto it must have been when that school was in decline... Anselmi's treatment of much of the belcanto repertoire has relatively sketchy runs and ornaments (compared with the accuracy displayed by such exceptional vocalists as Adelina Patti, Pol Plançon, Mario Ancona, and the great Mattia Battistini - all of whom were genuine remnants of the 19th-century belcanto tradition). How differently Fernando de Lucia would have sung it, especially those "punti coronati" (fermate).... an airy "aaaaaura"..........impalpable pianissimi and dizzy diminuendi....
Anselmi had a sweet-toned if rather throaty and fluttery lyric tenor voice, which he employed with memorable grace and elegance. He was noted for his performances as Almaviva and Don Ottavio, but he also excelled in the roles of Edgardo, Ernesto (in Don Pasquale), Duca di Mantua, Alfredo, Faust, Enzo, Cavaradossi, Loris and Lensky, among others.
Anselmi's stylish singing is preserved on discs which he made between 1907 and 1913 for Fonotipia Records in Milan, and then Edison Records in London. The need to limit each recording to three and a half minutes so as to fit on one side of a record forced Anselmi to make some cuts.
Unfortunately, his early records are often played at the standard "78" speed which is too fast, accentuating the fluttery vibrato.
For more substantial biographical notes, please see:
Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti (Thus Do They All, or The School For Lovers) K. 588, is an Italian language opera buffa in two acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart first performed in 1790. The libretto was written by Lorenzo Da Ponte.
Act 1. A coffeehouse. Ferrando, left alone, praises his love (aria: Un'aura amorosa—"A loving breath").