The 1910s was an exciting decade for opera lovers with many legendary names singing in their primes. A young, Irish tenor, John McCormack, was just launching a promising career then. In 1906 at just 22 years old, he had become the youngest principal tenor at Covent Garden, and his career had only been on the rise since with appearances in major opera houses with such legendary singers as Luisa Tetrazzini. The following year he was to partner Dame Nellie Melba (of Peach Melba fame) on her tour of Australia. But during a visit to America in 1910 he was heard by Calvin Childs of the Victor Record Company, who decided to record him. From January to March 1910 McCormack made a series of recordings for Victor - which IMO just might be the greatest examples of bel canto singing ever captured on record. His voice is still full of youthful vibrancy and beauty but it is matched by a mature elegance of phrasing and unparalleled technique. I have listened to these arias for over a decade yet I still find that these are the performances I always return to. Sometimes the past really was golden.
Donizetti - L'Elisire d'Amore - Una Furtiva Lagrima
Gounod - Faust - Salut demeure, chaste et pure
Puccini - La Bohème - Che Gelida Manina
Verdi - La Traviata - De' miei bollenti spiriti
Donizetti - Lucia di Lammermoor - Tu che a Dio spiegasti
Donizetti - La Fille du Régiment - Pour me rapprocher de Marie