I recently purchased this vinyl record on the Historic Masters label of a previously unpublished 12" 78 rpm record of Francesco Tamagno sining an aria from his most famous role Otello by Verdi. I have been trying to research Historic Masters and haven’t found a whole lot, but from what I gather they produce 78 rpm records from the original metal masters from the EMI collection of recordings made in the early 20th century.
To provide some context for this aria, it is the final scene right after Otello had murdered his wife Desdemona. Otello had been falsely convinced by Iago into thinking she had betrayed him which she had not. He realizes the truth too late and then commits suicide by impaling himself with a knife. Of course in classic opera style, while continuing to sing until all the way dead.
The record plays at the correct pitch at 78 rpm which in my experience for 1903 is a bit strange. Nearly all records of that era would have been somewhat slower than 78 rpm. So, I am not sure if it was actually produced at 78 rpm or if some magic was involved in the new pressing (though if it is a pressing from an original metal master I am not sure how the speed could have been adjusted).
The second side of this record are two very short Distance Tests by Nellie Melba in December 1910. ( Perhaps someone with more familiarity with the Historic Masters releases can add to this discussion in the comments below. As I find more information I will add it as well. I found references to some of this in google searches inside ARSC articles, but at this time I have not found any real useful information to lend more to this discussion there.
Historic Masters Wikipedia link:
Francesco Tamagno Links:
Watch videos with other singers performing Niun mi tema:
OTELLO Tant'osi?… Niun mi tema s'anco armato mi vede. Ecco la fine del mio camin…Oh! Gloria! Otello fu. Lascia cadere la spada. Va presso al letto, contemplando Desdemona E tu…come sei pallida! e stanca, e muta, e bella, pia creatura nata sotto maligna stella. Fredda come la casta tua vita… e in cielo assorta. Desdemona! Desdemona!…Ah…morta! morta! morta!… estraendo furtivamente dalle vesti un pugnale Ho un'arma ancor! si ferisce
CASSIO Ah! ferma!
LODOVICO, MONTANO Sciagurato!
OTELLO Pria d'ucciderti…sposa…ti baciai. Or morendo…nell'ombra… in cui mi giacio… Un bacio…un bacio ancora…ah!…un altro bacio… muore
English Libretto or Translation:
OTHELLO Would you dare? Let no one fear me though he see me armed.
Here is my journey’s end ... Oh! Glory! Othello’s day is done. (Letting his sword fall to the ground, he goes to the bed and gazes at Desdemona.) And thou... how pale thou art! And weary, and mute, and beautiful, pious creature, born ‘neath an evil star. Cold, even like thy chastity, and gathered into heaven. Desdemona! Desdemona! Ah!... Dead! Dead! Dead! (furtively producing a dagger from his robe) I have another weapon! (stabs himself)
CASSIO Ah, stop!
LODOVICO, MONTANO O bloody period!
OTHELLO Before I killed thee, wife, I kissed thee thus. Now dying... in the shadow where I lie... a kiss... another kiss... ah!... another kiss... (dies)