Rarely performed, nowadays, are localised language versions of classic operas. This, however, was still not the case, as recently as the mid-1950s, as witnessed by this 1954, Stockholm staging of Giuseppe Verdi's Otello, all sung, in the Swedish language.
It stars Set Svanholm (cover photo), as the titular Otello. Svanholm held a reputation, as the most versatile heldentenor of his day, and certainly been well-schooled in his craft, having been a pupil of the legendary baritone, and fellow Swede, John Forsell. Svanholm's version of Otello was considerably different to that of his Italian peers, being considerably less emotional than them, but also more restrained, and with an especially impressive delivery in the scenes where Otello thirsts for evenge ...
This 1954 recording is also fascninating because of the homogeneity of much of the male side, of the cast, which had worked for many years as an ensemble : Sigurd Bjorling (photo three), who played Jago, was just as famous internationally, as an heroic baritone, as Svanholm was as an heldentenor. Also, Arne Ohlson, tenor, as Cassio, Gosta Bjorling, tenor, (brother of the legend Jussi) as Rodrigo, and the bass Folke Jonsson as both Montano and Lodovico.
The female side of the cast, came from other worlds : Soprano, Aase Nordmo-Lovberg (photo two), from Norway, had launched her career the previous year, in Wagner's Tannhauser, and in this production played Desdemona. American-born mezzo-soprano, Betty Wermine-Bjorling, (married in real-life to Gosta, although Sigurd Bjorling plays her husband in this production), played Emilia.
Disc One : 1)-10) Act I ; 11)-20) Act II
Disc Two : 1)-9) Act III ; 10)-15) Act IV
Bonus Disc : Scenes from Verdi's "Don Carlo", starring similar cast, rec.d 1956 :-
1)-6) Act I Part II ; 7)-11) Act III Part I.
Discs One & Two are both in EX- condition.
Disc Three is in EX condition.