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Friday, March 30, 2012

A Spinto Soprano Who Blows The Doors Off The Onegin Letter Scene,

The name Beata Malkin is another name lost to the ages due to the Holocaust.  As a matter of fact, her career which was one which could be called nothing but spectacular, was completely changed because of the Holocaust. Malkin (1892-1973) was born in Odessa, the daughter of the famed violinist Joseph Malkin; her brothers also  musicians played as the Malkin Trio.  She spent most of her early adult life in Germany, studied in Berlin with Franceschina Prevosti (Verdi's favorite Violetta) and made her stage debut in Riga as a house soprano from 1918-1919.  From 1920-1922 she was a house soprano in Mannheim.  Wilhelm Furtwangler heard her and engaged her for Berlin in 1924 as Micaela in Carmen.  Her huge success led to her permanent engagement there, so from 1925-1933 she was the reigning lyrico-spinto with the Charlottenberg (Staedische) Opera, where she was a great favorite of Bruno Walter and received a large share of the available roles.  In 1927 she guested at La Scala and in 1931 at the Vienna Staatsoper.  In 1932 Serge Koussevitzky commissioned Frederick Converse to write a biblical symphony for the Boston Symphony Orchestra entitled Prophecy  just for Malkin,  The work is dedicated to her and was premiered in 1932.  She escaped Germany in 1934 and came to New York.  Malkin sung concerts throughout the North East and also with a Russian opera company which performed under the direction of violinist Efrem Zimbalist, at what is today the City Center Theatre in New York.  Then her career took a turn, her Father and Brothers had established themselves in New York and even built the Malkin Conservatory.  She was in demand as a concert singer around the Country.  However in late 1935 she decided to go back to Russia to aid in the war effort.  Malkin came back to Russia a celebrity and was hired to sing both concerts and opera to the troops, as well as throughout the Russian provinces.  She was allowed to leave and returned to New York in 1946, to be with her family.  She then picked up her concert singing for a few years,  Eventually she helped run her Father's conservatory and taught singing.

The recording you are about to hear is one of the finest Onegin letter scene's we have ever encountered.  This Harmonie Autographs and Music, Inc. proprietary transfer of a 1929 Parlophon electric recording with their studio conductor Frieder Weissmann leading a superb pick-up orchestra. Malkin completely inhabits the role of Tatiana and the orchestra just melds beautifully into her singing.    

Beata Malkin as Marina in Boris Godounov
Author's Collection

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