Opera Scotland

International Celebrity Concert 1930International Celebrity Concert

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Florence Austral soprano

One of the greatest dramatic sopranos of the inter-war years, Melbourne-born Florence Austral sang in Britain with BNOC and at Covent Garden.  Particularly noted for her major Wagnerian roles, Austral also worked in Berlin and the USA.

The Russian bass Alexander Mozjoukine spent most of his time in Paris. His wife, Cléo Carini acted as his accompanist on concert tours. He had a younger brother Ivan who had a career as an actor in silent cinema, including a brief period in Hollywood, before the 'talkies' took over.

The solo pianist was Vitya Vronsky (Viktoria Mikhailovna Vronskaya; born Yevpatoria, Crimea 22/08/1909; died Cleveland, Ohio, 28/06/1992). She would become famous as part of a notable piano duo partnership with Victor Babin (Viktor Genrikhovich Babin; born Moscow 13/12/1908; died Cleveland 01/08/1972).

Nils Nelson made recordings of popular ballads with Florence Austral.


Florence Austral soprano

Alexander Mozjoukine bass

Vitya Vronsky solo piano

John Amadio solo flute

Nils Nelson accompanist

Cléo Carini accompanist


A Great Wagnerian Returns in Concert

Dundee Courier & Advertiser: 21 February 1930

Celebrity Concert in Dundee - Two Favourites and Two Newcomers

'Of the artistes who carried through the programme of last night's International Celebrity Concert - the fifth of the series - in the Caird Hall, Dundee, two were firm favourites and two were newcomers.

'Mme Austral and Mr John Amadio have appeared in Dundee frequently with the greatest success, but Mozjoukine, the Russian bass, and the pianist, Vronsky, were making their first appearance in the city.  Both made excellent impressions.

'It is always a pleasure to hear a voice of such magnificent proportions and such lovely quality used with the intelligence that Mme Austral brings to her singing.  Her true supremacy is most evident when she is singing the dramatic ''heavy'' music, which displays her heroic voice so superbly.  But for a soprano of her type her interpretations of lieder and more intimate music generally have always been exceptionally pleasing.

'She began last night with nothing less that the ''Liebestod'' from Tristan, boldly divorcing the deathless melody from the gorgeous orchestral fabric which is so important a factor in the general scheme as heard in the opera-house.

'She gave a wonderfully moving performance, singing with great emotional intensity and much loveliness of tone.  She chose not to give Strauss's''Standchen'' any marked subtlety of inflection, singing it in a happy, straightforward manner, which was very charming in its way, but she would have come nearer to the heart of the song had she seen fit to express more of its essential intimacy.

'Rabey's ''Tes Yeux,'' very singable in its melodious and pleasantly rhythmic fashion, had some of Mme Austral's beautiful, soft top notes, and the bold phrases of Georges' ''Hymne au Soleil'' were sung with ringing brilliance of tone.

'An unimportant item by Easthope Martin should not have given her much trouble, but she seemed a little uneasy with it.  The next song, a ''Ballad'' of Lichina - very stark and dramatic - was most vividly sung.  O'Connor Morris' ''Alleluia'' was given in the exalted, jubilant manner in which Mme Austral always sings it.

'One of her two extra numbers was Brünnhilde's Battle Cry from The Valkyrie, which was given a superb performance, the wide intervals of the challenging ''Ho-jo-to-ho's'' being spanned with the utmost ease, and the whole thing being flung off with wonderful virility and glorious brilliance of tone.

'M Mozjoukine is a bass, who, like his more famous countryman, cultivates an unusual platform manner by the liberal employment of gesture to illustrate the words of his songs. The voice, too, in its middle register, has some of Chaliapine's mellow and vibrant quality.

'His use of tone colour is skilful, and he brought off more than one successful piece of characterisation. The narrative of Moussorgsky's ''The Old Corporal'' was quite graphically conveyed, the varying treatment of the martial refrain being very effective.

'Another song by the same composer, ''The Leader of the Army,'' had a successful realisation by means of tonal colouring of the unearthly quality of the middle and end sections, and ''The Air of Prince Vladimir Galitzky,'' from Borodin's Prince Igor, had the requisite abandon.

'Schumann's ''The Two Grenadiers'' was dignified and commendably restrained, and Schubert's ''Das Wandern,'' which was substituted without announcement for ''Der Wanderer,'' a song very different in mood, was delightfully easy and joyous. The pungent humours of two Dargomijshky songs were broadly conveyed, and most of the mordant satire of ''The Flea'' was there. The ''Catalogue'' aria from Mozart's Don Giovanni lacked the proper slyly humorous truth, and in the ''Calf of Gold'' aria from Faust the vibrato was much too heavy.

'Miss Vronsky plays difficult music with much fluency, produces a beautiful tonr, has intelligence and an easy style.  Her playing of an arrangement of a Vivaldi  organ concerto was dignified and sonorous in the austere opening phrass, and had a simple and appealing clarity later on in the work.  The finale was firmly knit, and moved with a steady rhythmic feeling, was technically clean-cut and interpretatively clear-headed.

'Her Chopin Berceuse had delicate treatment of the filigree work and pearly tone, but was rather dryly rendered on the whole. One of the Valses was played with rippling fluency and charming lightness of touch, and the octave passages in a Liszt Rhapsody, which was played instead of the same composer's Rigoletto Paraphrase, were brilliantly negotiated.  Her playing of this lacked the full amount of robust exuberance, without which the music tends to become tedious.

'Miss Vronsky had to play two extra numbers to satisfy her pleased audience.

'One tires of praising Mr Amadio's masterful flute playing.  His brilliance is an old story.  Instead of a Bach Sonata (it was a night of substitutions) he played a pleasantly melodious confection by Chaminade with the usual beautiful tone and sensitive phrasing.

'That popular trifle, Percy Grainger's ''Molly on the Shore,'' was an exhilarating and brilliant affair, and the tonal gradings in Doppler's ''Idylle'' were outstanding.

'Frank Bridge's ''Moto Perpetuo'' was as brilliant as it always is in Mr Amadio's hands. His two extra numbers were the ''Carnival of Venice'' variations, most dazzlingly played, and an amazingly facile rendering of Chopin's ''Minute'' waltz.

'Of the two accompanists, Mr Nils Nelson had more to do, and did it exceedingly well. Mlle Cleo Carini also accompanied skilfully.'

Performance DatesInternational Celebrity Concert 1930

Map List

Caird Hall | Dundee

20 Feb, 19.30

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