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Maria Barrientos

Maria Barrientos Record LableMaria Barrientos Record Lable

Original Liner Notes:
Besides her fine legacy of recorded performances, the Spanish soprano Maria Barrientos has two identical claims on the remembrance of record collectors. In the first place, she was and infant prodigy in music: a talented pianist and violinist who, at the early age o 11, studied at the Conservatorio of her native Barcelona, she actually conducted a performance of a symphony of her own composition at the tender age of 12. Secondly, she was involved in one of operatic history's jollier coincidences: for she was born (on March 10th, 1883) in the self-same house which, only a dozen years later, saw the birth of yet another important soprano, Mercedes Capsir -curiously enough, also an accomplished composer.

Like Capsie after her, Barrientos was destined to shine brightly in the coloratura repertoire. She might have shone still more brightly in the international firmament had her career not coincided with the rising fame of Teteazzini and later od Galli-Curci, two great Italian singers whose names were destined, in turn, to become household words. Even so her reclaim was far from inconsiderable. She confirmed her reputation for musical precocity by making her operatic debut at the Conservatorio -in Meyerbeer's L'Africana- before she was 16. She studied briefly at Milan before appearing there in Lakme and making so strong an impression that she was soon walking the hallowed bards of La Scala.

By the time she was 20 her fame was international. In 1903 she made her Covent Garden debutas Rosins in The Barber of Seville: the Almaviva was Alessandro Bonci. her English reputation was never to amount to much; but she was soon in constant demand in Italy and South America, as well as in her own country. At the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires she pursued a career of some distinction from 1911 to 1921. The New York Metropolitan enjoyed her services from 1916 to 1921: there she was deeply respected for the clarity of her timber and the astounding accuracy of her fioritura. Still, she never made quite the same headway with Anglo-Saxon audience as she did in Latin countries, where the brilliance of her high notes and technical facility brought her sensational success.

After 1921 she confined her activities mostly to her native Spain, continuing to appear on the operatic stage until 1939, when she settled down as a singing teacher in Buenos Aires. Shew as only 63 when she died in France on August 8th, 1946.

Reading between the lines of critical comment on Barrientos one suspects that hers was not, after all, one of the God-given voices; but that she made herself a great artist by intelligent application of vocal discipline, added to a musical talent close to genius and an unusually-developed flair for dramatic interpretation. She seems to have been most deeply appreciated by those to whom operatic singing was something more than a matter of voice: which is, perhaps, significant. Irving Kolodin, for example, praised the "neatness and discipline" of her singing; with Giacomo Lauri Volpi, immensely experienced as well as acutely intelligent, pronounced her one of the most glorious sopranos of all time. He considered her an exceptional artist because of the naturalness and effectiveness of her stage interpretations: and he described her voice as "sottile, estesa, virtuosa, ma non eccessivamente timbrata" (Voci parallele, page 14).

In her early days Barrientoe recorded for the Fontipia Company in Milan and afterward made a long series of acoustic for Columbia. Near the end of her career she recorded, electrically, songs by Manuela de Falla with the composer at the piano: an appropriate culmination to the achievements of a fine singer who was essentially a musician.
-Eric Rees

Side A:
La Traviata -Ah fors e lui ..Sempre libera (8908M)
Dinorah -Ombra leggiera (8906M)
Martha -Qui sola vergin rose (8906M)
Pearl of Brazil -Gentle augel (68057-D)
Lakme -Ou va la jeune Hidoue (7037M)

Side B:
Mireille -Valse (68068-D)
Rigoletto -E il sol dell anima. w. Hakett (49616)
Rigoletto -Caro nome (48649)
Rigoletto -Tutte le feste. w. Stracciari (49611)
Rigoletto -Si vendetta. w. Stracciari (78363)
Rigoletto -Quertette. w. Hackett-Gordon-Stracciari (49782)

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