MICHELE MOLESE : UNA VOCE DAL VIVO (photos courtesy Charles Mintzer collection)

2 cd set

Issued by Plant Tecval SA  


This CD issue has always been pretty hard to find yet we want to put it in the picture again because it’s such a remarkable release of a remarkable singer.
Michele Molese was born in New York (real name Kenneth Michael Pratt) in 1936 and died in 1989 in Broni Italy where he suffered a heart attack.  He studied in Milan and his career took off after having participated in the ‘s Hertogenbosch vocal competition in the Netherlands.  His “official” debut took place at the Teatro Nuovo in August 1956 in Milan as Beppe in Pagliacci imediately followed by L'Amico Fritz at the Piccolo Scala in the same year.
He appeared in concert, radio and at the Dutch opera initially, spent several seasons as the leading tenor of the Belgrade opera  and subsequently made his  debut at the New York City Opera in 1964 (Pinkerton) and soon assumed lead tenor repertory roles. He sang there for ten years until his career was cut short for a while  by an unusual incident. Arnold Schoenberg, the prominent music critic for the “New York Times” wrote a rather negative review of Molese. At Molese’s following performance in “Un Ballo in Maschera” and after the second act duet he shouted to the audience “'that high C was for Harold C. Schoenberg!!" The management (read Julius Rudel) fired him and that ended his career at the City opera for a while.


And sadly enough that's also the way he is often remembered. A pity, as he was a rather reliable singer judging from this two CD portrait, an 'in memoriam' portrait brought out by his surviving widow the Greek mezzo Zoe Papadaki.  Judging from these CD’s the voice sounds remarkably sturdy with lots of volume and suited to a varied repertory, timbre perhaps a bit too 'common' if that's the right expression. All recordings are taken from live performances either broadcasts or 'in house recordings'. The articifially squeezed in applause is a drawback.
Items vary from an impressive aria from Il Giuramento, Verdi heavyweights such as Radames, Manrico and Don Carlos to songs. In fact a criss cross through the standard repertory. Molese never disappoints, occasionally he impresses and in the songs included he even establishes himself as an excellent tenor far better than say Cura or Alvarez.

molese3 molese4 (As Hoffman and Edgardo)

The accompanying booklet is prepared with love and care and contains pictures of the tenor in several of his roles. But there is a lack of information on when and where the recordings come from.
If you ever come across this compilation and tenors are your thing, ask to listen to the song “mia, tra le mie braccia” on CD nr 2  and you will melt and decide to purchase the two CD's only to realize that "Mickey" was a far better tenor than we thought him to be.  To whet your appetite we uploaded to our youtube channel  two rare recordings. One is possibly the very earliest recording of his voice : a duet from Donizetti’s Rita with the wonderful soprano Marilyn Tyler, it is followed by a song ‘Buona  notte mamma’ which shows what a musical singer he could be.
Beverly Sills, who later became General manager at the New York City Opera, was at that time a colleague of Molese, and she is quoted as saying “ Mike never really hit it big, but after he left I often worked with tenors who'd leave me muttering "where are you, Molese?"
Well, he's here now.



Selective repertory list :

Alfano : Sakuntala
Bellini : Norma (Pollione) + Capuletti ed i Montecchi (Tebaldo
Berlioz : Damnation de Faust
Bizet: Carmen
Pecheurs de perles
Boito :  Mefistofele
Cilea : Adriana Lecouvreur
Delibes : Lakmé
Donizetti : Don Pasquale
Elisir d’amore
Lucia (Edgardo)
Rita (Beppo)
Giordano : Fedora
Gluck : Alceste (Admetos)
Iphigenie en aulide (Achille)
Gounod : Faust
Romeo et Juliette
Henze : Il re cervo (il re)
Leoncavallo : Pagliacci (Canio/Beppe)
Mascagni: l’Amico Fritz
Cavalleria Rusticana
Parisina (Ugo d’Este)
Massenet: Werther
Menotti : the Last Savage (Kodanda) world première
Mercadante : il Giuramento
Mozart : Zauberflote
Offenbach : les contes d’Hoffman

Ponchielli : La gioconda
Prokofiev : l’Amour des trois Oranges (Prince)
Duena (father)
Puccini : Butterfly
Manon Lescaut
Rondine (Ruggero)
Tabarro (Luigi)
Tosca (Cavaradossi)
Turandot (Calaf)
Rossini : Barbiere
Stabat Mater
Petite messe solenelle
Stravinsky  : Persephone (Eumolpe)
Tchaikovsky : Eugen Onegin
Verdi :Aida
Trovatore/Luisa Miller/Macbeth/Nabucco/Vespri

Zandonai : Francesca da Rimini




Bizet, Carmen, exc. Marilyn Horne, Michele Molese, cond. Henry Lewis, Decca/London phase four stereo, re-issued on CD

Mozart, Zauberflote: Michele Molese, Beverly Sills, Veronica Tyler, John Reardon, Joan Summers. Orchestra New York Opera, direttore Julius Rudel. Registrazione live – 1966.
Donizetti :Lucia di Lammermoor :Michele Molese, Beverly Sills, Dominic Cossa, Robert Hale. Orchestra Opera di New York, direttore Charles Wendelken Wilson. Registrazione live – 1969.
Mercadante, Il Giuramento: Michele Molese, Benedetta Pecchioli, Lajos Miller, Teresa Zylis-Gara. Orchestra e Coro della ORTF, direttore Thomas Schippers. Registrazione live -1970.
Verdi, La Traviata: Michele Molese, Virginia Zeani, Giulio Fioravanti. Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Verdi di Trieste, direttore Antonio Guarnieri. Registrazione live – 1965.
Verdi, Il Trovatore: Michele Molese, Gordoni Virginia, Lino Puglisi, Nedda Casei. Orchesta e Coro Wiener Staatsoper, direttore Nello Santi. Registrazione in studio – 1961. CD VAI
Verdi, Rigoletto: Michele Molese, Licinio Montefusco, Anna Maccianti. Orchestra e Coro Wiener Staatsoper, direttore Gianfranco Rivoli. Registrazione in studio – 1957.
Puccini, Manon Lescaut: Michele Molese, Virginia Zeani, Louis Quilico, Bernard Tugeon. Orchesta e Coro di Montreal, direttore Franz Paul Decker. Registarzione live – 1968.
Mascagni, Parisina: Michele Molese, Emma Renzi, Benito Di Bella, Mirella Parutto. Coro e Orchestra della RAI di Milano, direttore Pierluigi Urbini. Registrazione live - 1976.
Alfano, Sakùntala: Michele Molese, Celestina Casapietra, Laura Didier Gambardella, Adriana Baldisieri, Aurio Tomicich, Ferruccio Mazzoli. Orchestra Sinfonica della RAI di Roma, direttore Ottavio Ziino. Registrazione live – 1952.


(Molese and Virginia Zeani in Traviata)


Vienna (State opera) , Brussels, Amsterdam, Enschede, Sofia, Montreal, Vancouver, Prague, Bordeuax, Marseille, Nice, Nancy, Nice, Paris, Rouen, Strassbourg, Athens, Berlin Deutsche oper, Budapest, Tel Aviv, Bologna, Genoa, Scala, Naples, Palermo, Spoleto festival, Trieste, Turin, Mexico City, Monte Carlo, Lisbon, Johannesburg, Barcelona, Chicago, Hawaii, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Milwaukee Florentine, Philadelphia, New York City, San Francisco, Washington, Teheran, Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Belgrade and Dublin.



Michele MOLESE :  Appearances at Tehran Opera Roudaki Hall by Liliana Osses Adams

During the Tehran Opera 1972-73 season, Michele Molese made his much applauded guest appearance in Jules Massenet “Manon” as Le Chevalier des Grieux opposite June Card as Manon Lescaut. Directed by Jean Claude Riber, the opera premiered on June 13, under the baton of Luigi Martelli, followed by three performances on June 16, 18, and 20, 1973.

(Michele Molese as Massenet’s Chevalier Des Grieux
Roudaki Hall, Tehran, June 1973
Courtesy Liliana Osses Adams)

(Manon program by Jules Massenet at Roudaki Hall, 1972-73 season)

(Cast for Manon by Jules Massenet, Roudaki Hall, Tehran, June 1973
Courtesy Liliana Osses Adams collection)

During the season 1977-78, Tehran Opera House presented three performances of Puccini’s “Il Tabarro” and “Gianni Schicchi”; dates October 13, 15, and 19, 1977.  

(IL Tabarro and Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini
Roudaki Hall, Tehran, October, 1977)

Michele Molese appeared as Luigi in Puccini’s “Il Tabarro” under the baton of Nino Verchi, directed by Italo Tajo in scenery by Bruno Santini. The cast included: Hossein Sarshar as Michele, Hagint Vartanian as Giorgetta, Pari Samar (Arianpur) as Frugola, Giovanni Gusmeroli as Talpa, and Rashid Watandoust as Tinca.

(Cast for Il Tabarro, Tehran Opera, October, 1977
Courtesy Liliana Osses Adams collection)

Puccini’s double bill one-act operas “Il Tabarro” and “Gianni Schicchi” were also presented during the Tehran Opera seasons of 1972-73, and 1973-74.
On March, 1973, Giuseppe Gismondo sang the role of Luigi opposite Giuseppe Scalco as Michele and Monir Vakili as Giorgetta, directed by Enayat Rezai under the baton of Hector A. Urbón.
On October 1974, Giuseppe Gismondo reprised the role of Luigi under the baton of Manrico de Tura, in stage direction by Enayat Rezai with the same cast of leading singers: Giuseppe Scalco as Michele and Monir Vakili as Giorgetta.
In the buffo role of Buoso Donati from the popular comedy “Gianni Schicchi” by Puccini, Tehran Opera Roudaki Hall hosted three world-famous singers: Michele Casato, Renato Capecchi and Giuseppe Taddei.

© Liliana Osses Adams
California, March 1, 2013