Tomiko Kanazawa

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Derek McGovern

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Jul 20, 2010, 7:28:12 PM7/20/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
About 18 months ago, I posted a query on Opera-L regarding Tomiko
Kanazawa, the soprano who performed Cio-Cio-san to Lanza's Pinkerton
at the New Orleans Opera in April 1948. I've always been very curious
to know what Ms. Kanazawa thought of Mario's performances, and her
impressions of the voice and the person. I also wanted to know if she
was still alive.

Well, it turns out that she is -- and, in fact, today is her 95th
birthday! Only this morning, I received this news from a Vienna-based
Opera-L subscriber who just happened to see my old message in that
forum's archive. (No one else ever replied to me on this topic.) He
added that Ms. Kanazawa is living in Vienna, and was married to the
Austrian conductor Leo Mueller, who died in 2003.

Naturally, I've written back to my correspondent to see if he
personally knows Ms. Kanazawa and whether he can supply us with any of
her recollections of Lanza. Fingers crossed!

While we're waiting, you may want to reacquaint yourselves with this
old thread on Lanza as Pinkerton:


http://groups.google.com/group/mariolanza/browse_thread/thread/abaead7db837e4af/eded6d1a4bb0c95d?lnk=gst&


Derek McGovern

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May 20, 2015, 9:11:20 PM5/20/15
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Here's a terrific photo of Lanza with Tomiko Kanazawa and conductor
Walter Herbert:


leeann

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Jul 21, 2010, 6:09:36 PM7/21/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Dear Derek, That is such an exciting possibility. I wish there were a
smiley-face for "shaking my head in awe and wonder" at the incredible
resources you find. Congratulations and yes, fingers crossed all
around.

And as an aside, July 22 (which it may already be in your part of the
world) is the 90-something or 100-something birthday of Licia
Albanese. There are delightful interviews with her all over the web in
which she talks about her career and the people she sang with and
about her Albanese-Puccini Foundation; but, of course, the very best
information re Lanza are her quotes is in Armando's book!

I love a statement from her, though, about who can sing Puccini and
other Italian opera composers that she made when she was commenting on
audience hostility Croation soprano Zinka Mianov faced. She explained
that it was illogical to suppose you had to be from the same country
as the composer in order to understand the music, but "Of course,
Italian singers carry in their hearts, in their whole insides, Verdi
and Puccini and all the other composers." True or not, it's a
romantic thought. Best, Lee Ann

Maria Luísa

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Jul 21, 2010, 6:21:15 PM7/21/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Have you ever seen a more beautiful manly face of a tenor? I believe
no one has, because neither there were nor there are. And what would
sweet Miss Kanazawa think of having such a fantastic voice and such a
handsome man singing at her side? I wish that, since the lady is still
alive and given her advanced age, someone is able to interview her the
soonest possible to get her own musical opinion and personal
impressions about Mario the tenor and Mario the colleague, having in
account the great critiques received for his two performances of that
Opera, he that was just starting what would soon become a fulgurant
career in spite of his young age. Such an interview would be precious.
Thank you Derek for these rather unexpected but wonderful news.

On Jul 21, 5:42 am, Derek McGovern <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Here's a terrific photo of Lanza with Tomiko Kanazawa and conductor
> Walter Herbert:
>
> http://mariolanza.googlegroups.com/web/With+soprano+Tomiko+Kanazawa+a...
Message has been deleted

Derek McGovern

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Jul 22, 2010, 8:39:32 AM7/22/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
I heard back today from my correspondent in Vienna. Unfortunately, he
doesn't know Tomiko Kanazawa personally -- nor is he aware of any
interviews that she may have given -- but he did provide me with her
address. I've decided to write to her this weekend. It's a long shot,
I know, but if she is in good enough health (and willing) to reply,
then I'd kick myself if I let this opportunity slip away. As Lou wrote
on one of our Tanglewood threads, "living persons who knew Mario
personally and whose memories are still reliable are fast-dwindling,
non-renewable resources in the Lanza world." And it certainly would be
amazing to have an eyewitness account from the one person whom Lanza
sang opposite in his only professional operatic performances.

Incidentally, Lee Ann's reminder that July 22nd marks the
"90-something or 100-something birthday of Licia Albanese" (see this
thread for *that* story:
http://groups.google.com/group/mariolanza/browse_thread/thread/65249ab92a0a6a29/4c2a19929f00cd5a)
made me ponder the amazing longevity of so many of the sopranos with
whom Lanza sang. Licia's anywhere between 97 and 102, Frances Yeend
lived until 95, Blanche Thebom made it to 94, Irma González to 92,
Helen Boatwright (nee Strassburger), who sang opposite Mario in his
second performance as Fenton, is still alive at 94, and Tomiko
Kanazawa is 95. In fact, off the top of my head, I can only think of
one soprano partner of Lanza's who died prematurely (Doretta Morrow);
Kathryn Grayson made it to 88, Dorothy Kirsten to 82, Jean Tennyson to
86, Marina Koschetz (The Great Caruso) to 88, Jarmila Novotna to 85;
and, happily, the ever-radiant Ann Blyth is still with us at almost
82.

Quite amazing, really. It's just too bad some of that elixir of life
didn't rub off on Mario :-(

Maria Luísa

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Jul 22, 2010, 5:01:16 PM7/22/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
In fact is extraordinary the longevity of all those ladies! To think
that Mario could equally be alive today - with about the same age -
but is not, makes one feel immensely sad for him.
And Derek, as for myself I pray God and cross my fingers (as you anglo-
americans say) that Miss Kanazawa is in good health to be able and
also willing to reply to your letter.

On Jul 22, 1:39 pm, Derek McGovern <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I heard back today from my correspondent in Vienna. Unfortunately, he
> doesn't know Tomiko Kanazawa personally -- nor is he aware of any
> interviews that she may have given -- but he did provide me with her
> address. I've decided to write to her this weekend. It's a long shot,
> I know, but if she is in good enough health (and willing) to reply,
> then I'd kick myself if I let this opportunity slip away. As Lou wrote
> on one of our Tanglewood threads, "living persons who knew Mario
> personally and whose memories are still reliable are fast-dwindling,
> non-renewable resources in the Lanza world." And it certainly would be
> amazing to have an eyewitness account from the one person whom Lanza
> sang opposite in his only professional operatic performances.
>
> Incidentally, Lee Ann's reminder that July 22nd marks the
> "90-something or 100-something birthday of Licia Albanese" (see this
> thread for *that* story:http://groups.google.com/group/mariolanza/browse_thread/thread/65249a...)
Message has been deleted

Derek McGovern

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Jul 23, 2010, 5:45:35 AM7/23/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Well, I've just mailed a letter to Tomiko Kanazawa, so fingers
crossed!

Actually, it's possible that at least one other cast member of that
New Orleans Madama Butterfly is still alive: Rosalind Nadell, who
played the role of Suzuki (and who also sang with George London).
She'd be in her late 80s at least by now, and, to the best of my
knowledge, no one has ever interviewed her about Lanza. Ms. Nadell was
certainly still alive in 2004, when she appeared in an "alumnae night"
performance at the New York City Opera.

If anyone can supply me with any "leads," I'd be very grateful!

Here's a portrait of Rosalind Nadell, taken in 1959:

http://indiamond6.ulib.iupui.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/Maennerchor&CISOPTR=432&CISOBOX=1&REC=6

Actually, we can add Ms. Nadell, a mezzo soprano, to our list of long-lived sopranos who sang with Lanza!! :-)


Vince Di Placido

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Aug 8, 2010, 12:13:28 PM8/8/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Great work Derek! It would be fascinating to hear Tomiko Kanazawa
memories of Mario, his voice & how he conducted himself in the role of
Pinkerton!
I really hope this leads to something...
Oh! & I just love that portrait of Rosalind Nadell, she was
beautiful :-)

Derek McGovern

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Aug 8, 2010, 5:22:34 PM8/8/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Hi Vince: I haven't heard anything from Tomiko Kanazawa yet, but you
can be sure I'll be straight on to the forum if and when she does
respond.

In the meantime, it'd be great to track down Rosalind Nadell. We
really need detective Muriella on the case, as she's been brilliant in
the past in locating people (not to mention old newspaper reviews!).

On Aug 9, 4:13 am, Vince Di Placido <vincent.diplac...@gmail.com>
wrote:
Message has been deleted

Derek McGovern

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Aug 19, 2010, 11:40:18 AM8/19/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Good news! Rosalind Nadell is alive and well, and thanks to the
amazing resourcefulness of Lee Ann (who, with the help of a very kind
archivist from the New York City Opera, managed to locate her home
phone number), Armando was able to telephone Ms. Nadell today. He's
asked me to pass on the content of their chat. It was only a brief
conversation, but what she had to say about Mario was "extremely
positive."

Ms. Nadell, who's now 88, couldn’t remember specific details of the
Butterfly performances other than that the soprano was Japanese, but
she clearly recalled that Lanza "was vocally impressive, had a very
good voice, was a very good singer and was very good looking." She
also remembered meeting Betty Lanza (and was able to recall her name).

I think the fact that she recalls Lanza so favourably makes it highly
unlikely that the story attributed to Jess Walters (the Sharpless at
those two Butterflys) about Mario being "hoarse and exhausted" by the
end of the performances has any basis in fact.

Now if we could just hear from Tomiko Kanazawa as well! I'm still
holding out hope...

In the meantime, many thanks to Lee Ann and Armando for this "scoop"!

leeann

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Aug 30, 2010, 11:50:24 AM8/30/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Dear Derek, I wish all research projects were as easy as this one,
thanks to Susan Woelzl, the archivist at the New York City Opera. And
you and Armando did the heavy lifting. One of the highlights of the
search was hearing from Ms. Woelzl that, at 88 years, Ms. Nadell
could only be available for interview on Tuesdays and Thursdays since
she was not home due to commitments to do volunteer work the rest of
the week. An example to hold in mind!

I knew (and know) very little about her; just some incomplete bits and
pieces. She certainly had a far more distinguished career and greater
prominence than hard-to-find publicity about her would indicate--at
least digitized materials. (Opera News seems to mention her regularly,
and I don't have access to it at the moment.) And yet beyond the New
Orleans Opera Company, Rosalind Nadell sang with the San Francisco
Opera Company, the Met, Lyric Opera of Chicago, ABC-TV Opera in the
1950s, and many, many more, performing with other prominent singers
including Renata Tebaldi, Dorothy Kirsten, Jan Peerce, Richard Tucker,
and, I think, with George London in Don Giovanni and it would appear
she may have crossed paths with Frances Yeend in Chicago. And again,
many, many more.

Suzuki in Madame Butterfly appears to be one of her signature roles
and her performances include a later reprise of the role in New
Orleans (at least in 1960 http://www.amazon.com/Puccini-Madama-Butterfly-Giacomo/dp/B000003LJO).
Other more knowledgeable people on this list could probably fill in
the blanks as appropriate! Best, Lee Ann

Armando

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Aug 30, 2010, 11:01:24 PM8/30/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Hi Lee Ann: I’ve been meaning to thank you for the work you did on our
behalf in locating Rosalind Nadell.

Although the telephone conversation was relatively brief it was still
worthwhile as, although she couldn’t recall specific details of the 2
Butterfly performances, she certainly remembered Lanza clearly and
described him in glowing terms as has already been posted by Derek.

She asked me about myself and then we went on to discuss aspects of
her career, those that she had sung with, and so on. In ending she
asked me to call her if I’m ever in New York, as she would like to
meet my wife and me.

I was astonished to discover that she is 88 years old, as she sounded
extremely sharp, with the beautiful, deep voice of a much younger
woman.

Again, thank you for all your work.

Armando




On Aug 31, 1:50 am, leeann <leeanngha...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Dear Derek, I wish all research projects were as easy as this one,
> thanks to Susan Woelzl, the archivist at the New York City Opera.  And
> you and Armando did the heavy lifting. One of the highlights of the
> search was hearing  from Ms. Woelzl that, at 88 years, Ms. Nadell
> could only be available for interview on Tuesdays and Thursdays since
> she was not home due to commitments to do volunteer work the rest of
> the week. An example to hold in mind!
>
> I knew (and know) very little about her; just some incomplete bits and
> pieces. She certainly had a far more distinguished career and greater
> prominence than hard-to-find publicity about her would indicate--at
> least digitized materials. (Opera News seems to mention her regularly,
> and I don't have access to it at the moment.) And yet beyond the New
> Orleans Opera Company, Rosalind Nadell sang with the San Francisco
> Opera Company, the Met, Lyric Opera of Chicago, ABC-TV Opera in the
> 1950s, and many, many more, performing with other prominent singers
> including Renata Tebaldi, Dorothy Kirsten, Jan Peerce, Richard Tucker,
> and, I think, with George London in Don Giovanni and it would appear
> she may have crossed paths with Frances Yeend in Chicago. And again,
> many, many more.
>
> Suzuki in Madame Butterfly appears to be one of her signature roles
> and her performances include a later reprise of the role in New
> Orleans (at least in 1960http://www.amazon.com/Puccini-Madama-Butterfly-Giacomo/dp/B000003LJO).
Message has been deleted

Derek McGovern

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Jan 4, 2011, 5:54:07 AM1/4/11
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Good news! Armando, who's currently in Vienna, managed to speak by phone today to Tomiko Kanazawa. 

Armando was happy to report that at 95 Ms. Kanazawa is still very much with it, and although (like Rosalind Nadell) she could not recall much about the 1948 performances, she certainly remembered Lanza:  

"It was an exceptionally beautiful lirico spinto voice -- beautiful coloring -- [and] I enjoyed singing with him." 


Yet another important endorsement of Lanza -- particularly since it comes from the soprano whom he sang opposite in his professional operatic debut -- and I think it's telling that neither Tomiko Kanazawa nor Rosalind Nadell had any memory of his supposed hoarseness!


Vincent Di Placido

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Jan 6, 2011, 12:30:09 PM1/6/11
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I just re-read this thread & it is just all fantatsic stuff but such a pity these people weren't contacted years ago BUT it is great to hear Mario talked about so positively & more importantly in the context of his live operatic singing & performance. I have to say Mario must have looked amazing in these performances if these photographs are anything to go by, he looks so happy!!! 

Aside from looking great I am quite sure, especially now that Ms Kanzawa & Nadell have given us first hand accounts, that Mario sounded fantastic also. I can only guess that Jess Walters holds some grudge or jealousy towards Mario.
I would LOVE if these performances had been recorded... Come to think of it I would love just a few more concerts & performances to have been recorded, I am especially surprised that nothing seems to have been captured during his Caruso "Lanza Bonanza" tour.

Derek McGovern

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Sep 6, 2013, 10:53:16 PM9/6/13
to
Hi Vince! You do realize that you don't have to make your images full-size, don't you? :) When you insert a photo in a post, you have a range of sizes (small/medium/large or "original") that you can choose from. Mind you, if the size of the one above was deliberate, I can understand why! Lanza looks terrific here.

Yes, it's a shame that we couldn't have gotten hold of Tomiko Kanazawa and Rosalind Nadell 20 or 30 years ago -- when their memories of those New Orleans performances would (presumably) have been fresher. I know that Armando did his best back in the late 1970s/early 80s to track them down, but in those pre-Internet days, it was so much more difficult to find people. Still, it's amazing whom he did interview. Then look at whom we've managed to track down in the last three years: Gloria Boh, Herbert Grossman, Helen Strassburger...and more recently Nadell and Kanazawa. There were also the highly favourable comments about Lanza at Tanglewood in an interview with Irma Gonzalez for a Mexican music magazine in 2007. 

Regardless of the absence of specific comments about how Mario interpreted the role of Pinkerton, the important thing is that both Nadell and Kanazawa have nothing but resounding praise for the man's talent. That's good enough for me!

As for Jess Walters, he died in 2000 at the age of almost 92. Again, I wish we'd known his whereabouts! It turns out he was teaching (and still giving recitals) at the University of Austin at Texas right up until his last days. 

To be fair to Walters, the comments attributed to him about Mario being "hoarse and exhausted" were not reported until 41 years after he'd supposedly made them in 1952. Given that he also raved about Lanza's squillo in a later interview, there's a fair chance that he was misquoted the first time round. (Or, much less flatteringly, the original comments were made in a moment of envy because of the way in which Lanza had suddenly been propelled into worldwide stardom, while more mortal singers had to toil for a living...)   

Cheers
Derek

glaszlo

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Dec 12, 2011, 7:20:20 PM12/12/11
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I was thrilled to find this thread on Google Groups and I hope that the information I have will help to fill in some blanks. While I certainly know about Mario Lanza, it was not the reason I came to this discussion. Rather, I am the inheritor of all of the photos and scrapbooks of the lyric tenor Gabor Carelli. His memorabilia have been sitting in my basement for years and I was finally motivated to go through it all.

For those of you who don't know about Gabor Carelli, he was the favorite pupil of Bengiamino Gigli. Gigli discovered Gabor while visiting Budapest in the 1930's and took him under his wings, including giving him his stage name.

I will write more about his another time. For all of you who are interested in Tomiko Kanazawa, it is important to note that she sang more Butterfly's with Gabor than anyone else. I had the privilege of hearing one of these performances at the ripe old age of 11 in Budapest, circa 1960. Gabor took me to this performance when he came to Budapest as a favor to my parents before smuggling me out of the country so I could join my family in New York. More about that another time.

To make a long story short, Gabor came to the USA after WWII and became a member of the Met in 1951. He toured throughout the USA and the rest of the world, many of them together with Tomiko. He was a good friend of Antal Dorati, a fellow Hungarian, who invited him to sing many times with the Dallas Symphony. For all of you, it is also important to note that he sang a fair number of times with Albanese, Nadell and Yeend.

So, I will now scan the articles and photos that I have and let you know when they are available. Perhaps the best way I can do make these live on the internet is create a Wikipedia page for Gabor Carelli and link that to a Picase photo album. Suggestions are welcome.

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Derek McGovern

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Dec 12, 2011, 10:54:08 PM12/12/11
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Welcome to this forum, George.

I'd certainly be very interested in knowing your impressions of Kanazawa's voice---and of course any comments that she may have made about Lanza to Carelli. However, if you don't mind, I'd like to keep the focus of this discussion on Tomiko Kanazawa rather than Gabor Carelli (who, incidentally, already has a Wikipedia page that you can contribute to).

Cheers
Derek


George Laszlo

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Dec 14, 2011, 2:59:57 PM12/14/11
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TOMIKO KANAZAWA


The photo above of Tomiko was taken in 1954 while she was touring around the USA and Canada.

Dr. Ida Halpern wrote a review for the Vancouver paper on September 29, 1954 after seeing a performance of Madame Butterfly. Some of that review reads as follows:

"Never before have we had the joy of seeing a more touchingly exquisite Cio Cio San.Tomiko Kanazawa's true charm and authentic movement wer not acted out or intentional, but were part of her natural grace. Her playfulness, her tender thoughtfulness wove and exotic spell over the whole performance. No wonder Madame Tomiko Kanazawa is recognized and acclaimed on the Continent and in New York as one of the finest Madame Butterflys. Her delicate, clear voice carries excellently, and has a bell-like ringing in the higher register which gives her singing the delicious oriental flavor. This is combined with great artistry and drama."

Hilmar Grondahl writing in the Oregonian of Portland on October 5, 1954 said the following:

"She has a distinguished knowledge of what she means to convey in terms of the developing action as well as the immediate vocal message. And even more convincing is the spirit and flavor of her behavior as an adjunct to her singing. It was these qualities in their breadth and subtlety that made the performance of Tomiko Kanazawa the dominant characterization of the opera as Puccini intended it should be.”

 

Louis Guzzo writing in the Seattle Times also in 1954 (although the exact date is not available) said:

 

“Towering over all, partly because Puccini so will it, but mostly because she so proclaimed it, was Tomiko Kanazawa in the title role. She is an exquisite Butterfly admirably suited to the demanding part. Miss Kanazawa is a native of California, but she makes profits by her Japanese ancestry. Every move she makes bears the mark of genuine and realistic execution. From the flutter of the fan to a reverential bow, she is truly Butterfly, the most convincing in the long line of sopranos who have interpreted the role.” 


In 1960, Tomiko appeared as Butterfly with Gabor Carelli as Pinkerton on Margaret Island in Budapest. The photo below is of Tomiko on the cover of the magazine "Women's Pages" from July 21, 1960.

The magazine was published after the performance which took place on July 14 and 17. The poster below is advertising these two performances. The headline title is "Pillangokisasszony" which is the Hungarian translation of "Madame Butterfly." The poster states "Increased Prices" under the performance dates. This was normal practice when performances were put on by visiting stars.

The article from the women's magazine shown above stated the following:

"Tomiko Kanazawa, the well known opera- and concert-singer here and abroad, is best known for her portrayal of Butterfly. Her performance was true and artful. She was fragile and fine as only a Japanese Geisha can be. A heartfelt performance as Puccini wanted it to be. Kanazawa’s voice is crystal clear. She wins you over with her warm tone and polished technique.”

Tomiko's photo appeared in many newspapers and magazines during and after these performances in Budapest. The following photo accompanied an interview article with Gabor Carelli in the magazine "Music" published in September 1960.

This will do for now. I will post more information as I find them while reviewing the archives that were left in my care after Gabor Carelli's death.

 






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leeann

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Dec 16, 2011, 10:23:32 AM12/16/11
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Thank you for the photos of a very beautiful woman. Tomiko Kanazawa must have been an exceptional talent and a very strong person. It seems difficult enough to become prominent in opera, and I would  assume particularly challenging for an American of Japanese descent at that point in our history. Neither was there any compulsion or mandate to cast characters in Madame Butterfly according to their cultural backgrounds.

It's also interesting to note that for both Tomiko Kanazawa and for Rosaline Nadell, the characters of  Cio Cio San and Suzuki in Madame Butterfly seem to have become signature roles over the course of their artistic careers, and Mario Lanza, a voice and a person worth remembering for both of them. Best, Lee Ann

Steff

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Dec 17, 2011, 9:33:43 AM12/17/11
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Thank you George for all this information and the beautiful photos of Tomiko Kanazawa.

Regarding Gabor Carelli and Mario Lanza here are two newspaper notes mentioning the two singers:

"For Verdi Work
Engagement of soloits proceeds apace for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra's presentation of Giuseppe Verdi's "Manzoni Requiem" at the Fair Park Auditorium on Nov. 24 in a concert off the subscription list. Winifred Heidt, noted American contralto, was signed early this week by Antal Dorati, conductor. Regina Resnik, the soprano, was signed some months ago. Choice of a tenor rests between Gabor Carelli and Mario Lanza. Mr. Carelli sang in the Beethoven Ninth Symphony last April and later appeared at the Casino in the summer operettas [...]." (Dallas Morning News Oct 10, 1946).


"Mario Lanza, the tenor, will be unable to sing with Frances Yeend, soprano, in the Puccini concert scheduled for Feb.19 and probably will be replaced by Gabor Carelli. Lanza is tied up on a motion picture at the MGM studios. (Dallas Morning News January 4, 1949)


Steff

George Laszlo

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Dec 17, 2011, 12:24:46 PM12/17/11
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Steff,
This is quite unbelievable. It goes to show that everything in this
world is connected. Now we have Mario Lanza connected to Gabor
Carelli. I'm sure that many of those in this group would be happier if
Mario paid more attention to opera rather than movies. We all make
choices as our lives unfold often with unknown and/or unintended
consequences. By the way, the key reason that Gabor got to work with
the Dallas Symphony is his connection to Antal Dorati, the conductor.
"Tony" as his friends called him, maintained a continued friendship
with Gabor until his death.

George Laszlo

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Jan 8, 2012, 3:43:57 PM1/8/12
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When we began to discuss Tomiko Kanazawa, I thought that the New
Orleans Opera Company may have some information about the 1948
Butterfly production. I found Jack Belsom, the Opera Archivist, and
sent him a request. The following is his reply. The University he is
referring to is Tulane.

Dear Mr. Laszlo,

As promised, I checked the Opera's Archives to see whether they
contained anything at all on Mario Lanza's appearances here in 1948 as
Lt. Pinkerton.

But, as I suspected, there was nothing at all. We have no personnel
file on Lanza, and no production file for that 1948 Butterfly.

By way of explanation, the Opera Association, which was established in
1943, has had many homes for its offices in the past 70 years. And
while attempts have been made over the years to hold on to files
relating to artists and operas, the inevitable loss occasioned by
moves from one spot to another, until our earliest remaining files
were consolidated at a local University Library a few years ago, has
resulted in some gaps.

I regret that we have not been able to locate data that you were
interested in.

Steff

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Jan 9, 2012, 3:51:45 PM1/9/12
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Hi George,

Thank you for posting the letter.

I see that the website of the New Orleans Opera at least mentions Mario Lanza on its history page:

http://www.neworleansopera.org/our-history.html

"In April 1948 Mario Lanza made one of the few operatic stage appearances of his career as Lt. Pinkerton in
Madama Butterfly."

Steff

Derek McGovern

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Jan 9, 2012, 7:32:00 PM1/9/12
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Hi George: Thanks for going to the trouble of writing to Jack Belsom. I was actually in contact with him a few years back, and you can read about our correspondence here:


Cheers
Derek 

George Laszlo

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Jan 9, 2012, 10:18:07 PM1/9/12
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Derek, I should have guessed that contacting Mr. Belsom would have already occurred to someone on this site. It's interesting that he did not mention this to me since I did tell him that I was inquiring specifically for this group. On the other hand, you never know what new tidbit may surface. 

Derek McGovern

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Jan 8, 2013, 6:47:41 PM1/8/13
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While compiling the Mario Lanza Musical Who's Who the other day, I was constantly reminded of the extraordinary longevity of so many of the sopranos and mezzos who sang with Lanza. We have Licia Albanese turning (officially) 100 in July of this year---and she could well be older!---Tomiko Kanazawa is still with us at 98 this year, and Yeend, Gonzalez, Strassburger, Thebom and others all made it to their mid-90s. In contrast, few of the male singers with whom Lanza sang made it beyond their 60s; in fact, two of his principal Merry Wives of Windsor colleagues (Pease and Harrell) only lived until their 50s:


But I'm very happy to report that Rosalind Nadell---Mario's Suzuki in his two Butterfly performances---is still a vibrant woman in her early 90s, as this recent photo shows:


Steff

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Jan 11, 2013, 9:31:10 AM1/11/13
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Hi Derek,

What a lovely photo of Rosalind Nadell, what lively eyes! I see, like Mario, she was a native of Philadelphia.

Rosalind gave a recital at the Poche theatre, New Orleans, on February 29, 1948, in the series “Stars of Tomorrow.”  This was only about a months before she performed with Mario Lanza in “Madame Butterfly.” (April 1948).

Walter S. Jenkins reviewed (“Rosalind Nadell Appears in Series”)

“The qualities of Miss Nadell’s singing are not limited to a mere attractive personality and “pleasing” voice, though these she has in abundance. Her tones are projected with assurance, regardless of the character of the music: her sense of the musical line is clearly defined; her diction is good, and her rhythmical feeling acute. Some of her topmost tones need further refinement, but they are never harsh or misplaced. Her singing gives musical pleasure.” (Times Picayune March 1, 1948).

I’ve attached three photos of her which I spotted in old newspapers.

Steff

 

 

 

 

zag...@comcast.net

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Aug 15, 2014, 9:45:33 PM8/15/14
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My grandmother, Mildred Seymour, was a dear friend to Tomiko, and they shared an apartment in Hollywood before WW II. At that time Tomiko's family was interned. I remember a beautiful dinner with her in China Town, LA, CA. I was a young girl, and she described learning to be graceful at the dinner table while challenged to eat balancing an egg in the crok of each arm. I will never forget her impression on me as a beautiful, charming and kind woman. My grandmother, Mimi, became the accompanist for the Wiere Bothers the year I was born, 1950. This dinner was a reunion. My cousin, Craig Dennis, visited Tomiko in Europe years later.
Oh what I would give to know if she is still alive. We are traveling to Italy next June, 2015. A visit with her would be like a chance to touch my wonderful Mimi again.
Vicki Swain Hertz

Derek McGovern

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Aug 15, 2014, 10:05:16 PM8/15/14
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Hello Vicki: Welcome to this forum.

I can tell you that as of last August, Tomiko was definitely still alive and living in her own home. One of our members was able to call a neighbour of hers in Vienna. Here's the link to that post.

I certainly hope you get to see Tomiko next year.

All the best,
Derek

Derek McGovern

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Jul 19, 2015, 9:32:35 PM7/19/15
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I'm delighted to report that today (July 20) Tomiko Kanazawa celebrated her 100th birthday. What a milestone! That makes her the second soprano (after Licia Albanese) closely associated with Lanza's career to achieve centenarian status. 

We have Steff to thank for the confirmation that Ms. Kanazawa is still alive. Steff is in email contact with two of her neighbours in Vienna, and they report that Tomiko is in very good health for her age and is still living in her own home. I've just emailed these neighbours with greetings to her on behalf of this forum.

Happy 100th, Tomiko!! 



























Tomiko Kanazawa, 1949

Vicki Hertz

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Jul 20, 2015, 10:38:51 AM7/20/15
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Dear Mr. McGovern,
I cannot thank you enough for this news and celebration of Tomiko's 100th birthday. My husband and I just returned from a journey throughout Italy where we sought opportunities to experience opera, including a performance of Tosca at Arena di Verona and two evenings of magnificent performances at the Puccini Festival at San Giovani Cathedral in Lucca.  I am about to forward two photos of my grandmother, Mildred Seymour (Mimi) who shared a apartment with Tomiko in Hollywood very early in their respective careers.  If there is any way that Tomiko could see these photos, I think she would value them along with our family's wishes for a very Happy Birthday.  My memory of a magical dinner with her at a magnificent Chinese restaurant in LA when I was about 10, so that would have been around 1960, is very precious to me. 
With deep appreciation,
Vicki (Victoria Kay Swain, daughter of Shirley Blyth Randall, Mimi's 1st daughter)


Sent from my iPad 

Steff

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Jul 20, 2015, 5:07:42 PM7/20/15
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And Tomiko Kanazawa is not forgotten, Derek.

 

It is nice to see that the Austrian “Online Merker,” an online platform for cultural matter in Austria and from around the world, is remembering her centenary birthday.

She is listed among other international artists who, like herself, celebrate their birthdays in the month of July, with a brief bio of her and – what a wonderful surprise!!- with a photo of her and Mario Lanza! (see attachment): Here’s what the website says about her (translated from German):

 

Birthdays in July 2015

20 July: Tomiko KANAZAWA turns 100

Early in her life she came to the USA [note from Steff: I seem to recall that she was born in the USA?] where she received her vocal training. Since the early 1940s she appeared on various American stages, for example in 1946 at the opera house of Fort Wayne and in 1950 with the Pacific Opera Group. Her biggest role was the title role in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly in which she also appeared in 1952 at Minneapolis in a performance of the Metropolitan Opera of New York. After WW II she appeared successfully in Europe, performing for example in France, at the Royal Opera Stockholm and at the Wiener Staatsoper (1949 as Butterfly). Apart from Butterfly her repertoire included Pamina in “Die Zauberflöte,” Cherubino in “Le nozze di Figaro,” Leonore in “Il Trovatore” and Liu in Puccini’s “Turandot.” She also enjoyed a successful career as a concert soloist.

 

 

P.S.:

The photo showing Tomiko Kanazawa in her signature role of Cio-Cio-San is from digitalcollections.lib.washington.edu, dated 1950

 

A note about her late husband:

Leo Müller (1906 – 1903) was a Viennese born conductor, music producer and pedagogue. He studied piano and music theory at the Vienna Music Academy. He was répétiteur at the Volksoper Wien (1926/1927) and from 1927 to 1933 conductor at the German Theatre in Prague.  From 1933 to 1937 he worked as a guest conductor (1934/1935 in Leningrad/St. Petersburg). In 1937 he emigrated to the USA (he had already worked there before as a concert accompanist), worked at various opera productions in California and at films. From 1941 he worked at Broadway productions and for the radio (radio programmes for the territories occupied by Germany), and was employed at the Office of War Information. In 1954 he became chorus master and répétiteur at the Metropolitan Opera and from 1950 he worked at various places in Europe and the USA (in Pittsburgh, for example, he was associate musical director and chorus master for “The Desert Song,” “Carousel,” and “The Student Prince”). 1976 he returned to Vienna where he took charge of the opera studio of the Wiener Staatsoper (one of his pupils: Ramón Vargas). (Most information taken from the “Österreichisches Musiklexikon”).

 

Steff

 

Kanazawa, Online Merker, July 2015, Birthdays.JPG
Kanazawa_Tomiko_grand_opera_soprano.jpg

Armando

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Jul 22, 2015, 10:09:26 PM7/22/15
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As you know, Derek, I had the opportunity of speaking to Kanazawa when I was in Vienna 4 years ago. Like Nadell, she was very complimentary in her remarks about Lanza and like Nadell recalled his voice and personality vividly. Great to know she is still with us. Happy Birthday to the centenarian!

Armando

Derek McGovern

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Jul 21, 2020, 8:16:40 PM7/21/20
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Steff has been able to confirm that Tomiko Kanazawa, the Butterfly to Lanza's Pinkerton at the New Orleans Opera in 1948, is still alive and has just celebrated her 105th (!) birthday. With that extraordinary milestone, Ms. Kanazawa has reached the same age as another soprano who also sang with Lanza: the celebrated Licia Albanese.

Not only is Mario's Butterfly from New Orleans still alive, but Rosalind Nadell---the mezzo-soprano who performed the role of Suzuki at those two performances---is also still with us at 98.   

 

Steff Walzinger

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Jul 22, 2020, 6:21:33 AM7/22/20
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Hi Derek,

Here's a lovely article from the Philadelphia Inquirer about Tomiko Kanazawa and her husband, the Austrian conductor Leo Müller. 

Leo Müller was born in Vienna in 1906 and died in this city in 2003, only two days before his 97th (!) birthday. He was a conductor, music producer, teacher. From 1921 to 1926 he studied piano at the Vienna Music Academy under Josef Hoffmann and music theory under J. Marx. In 1926/27 he was répétiteur at the "Volksoper Wien" and from 1927 to 1933 conductor at the State Opera Prague. From 1933 to 1937 we worked as a guest conductor (1934/1935 in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), Russia). In 1933 he was also an accompanist in the U.S.A.. In 1937 he emigrated to the U.S.A. (exile). He worked for different opera productions in California and at films. From 1941 he worked in Broadway productions in New York and on radio (broadcasts for the territories that were occupied by the Germans). He worked for the "Office of War Information." In 1945 he became choir director and répétiteur of the Metropolitan Opera. From 1950 he had engagements in Europe and North America and returned to Vienna in 1976 taking charge of the opera studios of the "Wiener Staatsoper" (one pupil was the Mexican tenor Ramón Vargas).
(Information taken from musiklexikon.ac.at)

Steff
Tomiko Kanazawa, Leo Müller.JPG

Marlene Sarnat

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Apr 9, 2021, 6:53:20 AM4/9/21
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Derek,

  My wife's name is Marlene Sarnat  so ignore the From entry.  My name is George Sasaki and my mother went to school with Tomiko Kanazawa in L.A.  Somewhere in my family's collection of photographs, we have a nice picture of Tomiko.  I had the pleasure of meeting her once way back in 1956 when she visited my parents at our home in Connecticut.  I think that was the last time she made contact with my Mom as I don't think we ever heard from her after that.  I would appreciate it if you could forward any information about her especially some contact information.  Tomiko would probably remember my Mom best as Eiko Higashi (maiden name).  Thanks for any help you can provide.

  George Sasaki
  350 Atlantic Drive
  Rio Vista, CA  94571

Derek McGovern

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Apr 9, 2021, 6:57:12 AM4/9/21
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George: I'm afraid I can't help you with any contact details for Tomiko Kanazawa. But I should point out that she's almost 106, and I doubt very much that she would be in a position to correspond---even if I could provide contact details.

Sorry I can't help you further!

Derek McGovern

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Oct 30, 2021, 4:14:58 AM10/30/21
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It would seem that Tomiko Kanazawa passed away last December at the age of 105. Since the death in 2014 of Licia Albanese (who also lived to 105), she had been the oldest of Lanza's surviving colleagues.

I just came across this blog written in Japanese by a woman who states that she was the niece of Kanazawa. In it she writes that Kanazawa died in Vienna on December 3, 2020.  (She also writes that Kanazawa was 106, but that's no doubt because some Japanese follow the East Asian practice of counting a person as already one year old on the day they are born.)

We're so lucky that Armando managed to interview Kanazawa when she was still relatively healthy.

R.I.P.

Pinkerton 3.png

Steff Walzinger

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Oct 30, 2021, 6:04:26 AM10/30/21
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Hi Derek,

You can blame me now for having missed this sad news and not having posted about Tomiko Kanazawa's passing last year!!
After I read your post, I checked an old e-mail account, which I don't use anymore. There I found an e-mail (from last year) from my "old" contact person from Vienna, telling me that Tomiko Kanzawa passed away on 3 December 2020 at the age of 105 (her birthday was on 20 July 2020). 
I have not much detail right now, but will, of course, try to find out more. All I know so far is, that Tomiko lived at her home until the end, being cared for 24/7. No mention of a niece so far, but of a woman, who looked after her all the past years. I have her contact dates, so let's see what can be done.

Last year, there was still mention of Tomiko Kanazawa on this Viennese website:



R.I.P. Tomiko Kanazawa!

Steff

Derek McGovern

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Oct 30, 2021, 8:08:14 AM10/30/21
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Hi Steff: You can hardly be blamed for not checking an email account that you haven't used in ages! But at least we know for sure now (thanks to your contact) that Ms. Kanazawa really has passed away. 

As far as I know, there is still at least one other surviving member of that 1948 New Orleans production with Mario: mezzo-soprano Rosalind Nadell, who performed the role of Suzuki. Ms. Nadell was born in 1922, so that makes her 99 if she's still with us.

There are not many others around now, though, who sang with Mario. Off the top of my head: Lucine Amara (97) and Ann Blyth (93) from The Great Caruso, Gloria Boh (94), who recorded the Act III Otello duet with him in 1955, and Elaine Malbin (90). There's also Rita Moreno, who's very much alive, though it's a bit of a push to say that they really sang together. Then there are the sopranos Mary Jane Smith, who sang with Mario at the Hollywood Bowl 1949 while still a teenager, and Peggy Bonini, whose voice was heard in Because You're Mine, who may be alive. No men, though!

Derek      
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