LACZO ISTVAN, in memoriam
CD DiscoRaRa DR 114

Record collectors are well aware of the above mentioned website and its sympathetic owner Istvan Szomolanyi.
While for many years Mr Szomolanyi has been a record dealer specializing in rare LP’s he now has also started a still modest CD company at very reasonable prices and including interesting art work.
His first release was a real revelation. DR 112 features the Hungarian mezzo Piroska Tutsek (1905-1979) in most of her archive recordings and it is a release everyone interested in discovering major voices should possess. And this not only for the extremely talented mezzo but also because of the historical value of the recordings and her partners. The first time ever releases include live excerpts from a Gioconda performance going back to 1941 and a most interesting Italianate Parsifal excerpt conducted in 1940  by Tulio Serafin (!) and featuring a wonderful Fiorenzo Tasso in the title role. The tenor in the Gioconda excerpts is Istvan Laczo and this time Discorara dedicates a solo CD to this Hungarian dramatic tenor. Laczo’s dramatic tenor voice is the kind of robusto tenor which now sadly enough belongs to the past. While some of the recordings date from the last years of his career one can still hear the mighty volume Laczo possessed. But the release is not only about Laczo himself but also about his family since his wife Lenke Zsogon was a successful opera soprano as well and their daughter Ildiko followed in her parents’ footsteps.
The archive recordings include excerpts from live performances from the Budapest Erkel theatre. Thus we can hear Laczo in Trovatore, Pagliacci and Otello. In the Trovatore in which Laczo encores the Stretta , the Luna is sung by Sandor Sved and the legendary baritone still manages to impress with his dramatic baritone as well. Azucena is sung by another legendary stalwart : Anna Nemeth and Paula Takacs is Leonore.  From radio archives we can hear Laczo in Otello’ solos and the main aria from Erkel’s Bank Ban. Lenke Zsogon can be heard in three 78 rpm Telefunken test recordings (Tannhauser-Tosca- Cavalleria) and Ildiko Laczo can be heard as Leonore in Verdi’s Trovatore from the Erkel theare going back to 1969.
With fascinating releases such as these we can only hope Discorara will continue its tributes to Hungary’s vocal giants for a long time to come.

Rudi van den Bulck, Operanostalgia