The Gramophone Company began producing “complete” operatic recordings in Italy in 1906. The earliest attempts were rag-tag productions, sometimes with different singers substituted if those originally scheduled couldn’t make a session; and in at least one case, a domestic Red Seal recording had to be substituted for a missing side in the U.S. There were no Carusos or Farrars or other Red Seal–class celebrities to be heard — even had their Victor contracts allowed them to record for The Gramophone Company, their astronomical royalty rates would have driven the price of these sets beyond the means of most customers — but the recordings caused a sensation nonetheless. There are reports of record stores staging “Victrola Opera Nights” using these records, with costumed locals lip-synching their parts. You can find much more about them in A Phonograph in Every Home, available from Mainspring Press.
Here are some highlights from a later, better-organized attempt, recorded in Milan in 1915 but not released in the U.S. until March 1919, on the lowly black-label series. These sets pre-date the “album” concept — i.e., the records were sold individually, and the big arias handily outsold the less-juicy portions — so assembling complete sets can be a daunting task. Our Cavalleria Rusticana set is growing steadily, but still has a ways to go.
CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA (Mascagni)
FRANCO TUMINELLO, GEORGINA ERMOLLI, LENA REVELLI and E. PERNA, with LA SCALA CHORUS & ORCHESTRA (CARLO SABAJNO, conductor)
Recorded in Milan by The Gramophone Company (F. W. Gaisberg, engineer)
PARTS 1–4 (Victor 35680 / 35681)
Cavalleria Rusticana: Preludio e Siciliana (mx. 3022c; April 8, 1915)
Cavalleria Rusticana: Preludio – Part 2 (mx. 3021c; April 8, 1915)
Cavalleria Rusticana: Gli aranci (mx. 3017c; April 5, 1915)
Cavalleria Rusticana: Tempo e si mormori (mx. 3018c; April 6, 1915)
PARTS 17–18 (Victor 35688)
Cavalleria Rusticana: A casa, a casa (mx. 3020c; April 7, 1915)
Cavalleria Rusticana: Brindisi (mx. 3019c; April 7, 1915)
Discographic data from the Gramophone Company files, courtesy of the late Dr. Alan Kelly.
Just a reminder — especially to the many new followers who’ve signed up in the past couple of months — to check out our free downloads of Brian Rust’s Jazz Records, 6th Edition (Personal-Use Version, 1917-1934), and Dick Spottswood’s Columbia “E” Series Discography.
The Personal-Use Edition of Jazz Records contains the complete entries for 1917–1934 from Brian’s 6th (and final) edition of Jazz & Ragtime Records, 1897–1942. It’s a completely free, no-strings-attached public-domain edition, in Abode Acrobat PDF format. (The full edition is out-of-print in book form, but it’s still available for purchase from Mainspring Press as a searchable CD-ROM.)
Dick’s Columbia E Series Discography will be updated early next year, and we hope to have his Columbia “C” series discog soon; in the meantime, be sure to enjoy the current version. It’s a must-have for collectors and fans of ethnic recordings (with some surprises sprinkled in).
For free downloads and information on permitted use of these files, click the Free Online Discographies link on the box at the left.
THE RANGE RIDERS: The Range Riders’ Stomp
Hot Springs, Arkansas: March 1, 1937
Vocalion 03579 (mx. HS 1 – 1)
MODERN MOUNTAINEERS (SMOKY WOOD, vocal): Dirty Dog Blues
San Antonio, Texas (Texas Hotel): March 1, 1937
Bluebird B-6976 (mx. BS 07436 – 1)
CLAUDE CASEY & HIS PINE STATE PLAYBOYS: Pine State
Rock Hill, South Carolina (Andrew Jackson Hotel): September 27, 1938
Montgomery Ward M-7707 (mx. BS 027737 – 1)
BOB WILLS & HIS TEXAS PLAYBOYS: Playboy Stomp
Dallas, Texas: June 7, 1937
Vocalion 03854 (mx. DAL 215 – 1)
WASHBOARD WONDERS (Harry Blair, vocal): And Still
No Luck with You
Charlotte, NC (Southern Radio Building): June 22, 1936
Bluebird B-6463 (mx. BS 102803 – 1)
W. LEE O’DANIEL & HIS HILLBILLY BOYS: (Kitty Williamson as “Texas Rose,” vocal): I’ve Got the Blues
Dallas: May 15, 1938
Vocalion 04353 (mx. DAL 559 – 1)
Quote of the Week:
“[We have] been betrayed by the so-called ‘mainstream media,’ who fawned for months over the clearly unqualified candidate, giving him billions of dollars of free media, betrayed by cynical executives more interested in a buck than the facts of the matter…and by politicians who spoke to their base and did not venture from safe venues, that is to say, they stayed far away from the genuine hurt and the mistrust and the economic dead ends that afflict so many of us.
We must try to remember that this level of vulgarity, of blatant lying, of demonizing whole groups of people, nearly always backfires, that real change will come when middle class whites, Hispanics and blacks realize they share more in common with each other than those in whose interest it is that they stay divided…
What to do, you ask? A million things, of course. But it begins only with the first step of awareness and commitment… Just go forward. Engage. Don’t despair. Find like-minded people — not from your social circle, but everywhere. Change the opinions of others, not with ridicule, but reason. Finally, remember too that Barack Obama himself has said that the highest office in the land is not president, but citizen.
— Ken Burns (Washington Post)
Didur in New York, 1915 (Bain News Service Collection,
Library of Congress).
ADAMO DIDUR: Roberto il Diavolo — Suore che riposate
Milan: October 10, 1907
Fonotipia 92002 (mx. Xph 2670)
ADAMO DIDUR: Gli Ugonotti — Signor, difesa e scudo
Milan: October 11, 1907
Fonotipia 92003 (mx. Xph 2671)
ADAMO DIDUR: Mefistofele — Son il spirito che nega
Milan: April 23, 1908
Fonotipia 92226 (mx. Xph 3176)
Quote of the Week:
The metaphor of the moment is that Donald Trump is the dog that caught up with the car… A more apt reference, especially after Trump’s inauguration, might be the Pottery Barn Rule: “You break it, you own it.”
Trump and the congressional Republicans who have chosen to make their bed with him are responsible for what happens from now on. There is now no one to blame if they can’t pass budgets, avoid shutdowns, deal with sequestration, replace Obamacare, destroy ISIS, or reverse the continuing loss of manufacturing jobs. If climate change gets worse, it’s on them. If Syria continues its downward spiral, it’s on them. If more countries acquire nuclear weapons, it’s on them.
— James Hohmann (Washington Post)
MOUND CITY BLUE BLOWERS: Blue Blues
Chicago: February 23, 1924
Brunswick 2581 (mx. Ch 78)
CHARLIE (DAD) NELSON: Cleveland Stomp
Chicago (Marsh Laboratories): c. April 1927
Paramount 12492 (mx. 4350 – )
From a tape dubbing supplied by the late Mike Stewart
BLIND BLAKE & HIS KAZOO BAND [sic]: Buck-Town Blues
Chicago (Marsh Laboratories): c. April 1927
Paramount 12464 (mx. 4359 – 1)
JOHNNIE HEAD: Fare Thee Blues — Parts 1 & 2
Chicago (Marsh Laboratories): c. January 1928
Paramount 12628 (mxs. 20274 – 2 / 20275 — 2)
PINK ANDERSON & SIMMIE DOOLEY: Gonna Tip Out Tonight
Atlanta: April 14, 1928
Columbia 14336-D (mx. W 146067 – 1)
Quote of the Week:
“Let them eat cake.
Specifically, let them eat Jean-Georges Warm Chocolate Cake. But let them start with Young Garlic Soup with Thyme and Sauteed Frog Legs. Let them follow that with Diver Scallops, Caramelized Cauliflower and Caper-Raisin Emulsion. And let them proceed to Niman Ranch Lamb Chops with Mushroom Bolognese and Pecorino… That’s what President-elect Donald Trump and Mitt Romney ate when the billionaire met with Mr. Forty-Seven Percent to discuss a job in the incoming administration.
Remember Trump’s talk about taking on the elites and the well-connected? Well, you can stick a sterling-silver fork in it.
If you feared that Trump would destabilize markets and impose reckless protectionism, his early appointments are reassuring. If you wanted him to shake up the system and depose the coastal elites — well, early signs are you’ve been had.”
— Dana Milbank (Washington Post)
REV. A. W. NIX & CONGREGATION: Death May Be Your
Chicago: October 12, 1927
Vocalion 1143 (mx. C 1298)
REV. A. W. NIX & CONGREGATION: How Will You Spend Christmas?
Chicago: October 1930
Vocalion 1553 (mx. C 6468 – )
From a tape dubbing supplied by the late Mike Stewart.
REV. A. W. NIX & CONGREGATION: That Little Thing May Kill You Yet — Christmas Message
Chicago: August 24, 1929
Vocalion 1431 (mx. C 4161 – )
Quote of the Week
“Far from being a global branding goliath, Trump Inc. is a small, middle-aged, and largely domestic property business. Were it [publicly] listed, it would be the 833rd largest firm in America by market value, and 1,925th by sales… Trump is a director of almost 500 legal entities, but the vast majority appear to be empty shells that make no money.”
— “Deconstructing Donald Trump” (The Economist, 11/26/2016)