Link: http://www.operavivra.com/features/focu ... s-in-song/Before the advent of discography, songs were rarely included by opera singers in their repertoire but they made exception for folkloristic songs especially in Germany, Russia and England, which were deemed suitable for concerts and refined salons. Despite the success of Spanish song writers and the preponderance of the zarzuela, the folklore in Spain was neglected for a long time. In Italy, Neapolitan songs were so popular that opera singers of Southern Italy included them in their repertoire together with old Spanish songs. The latter were cherished by opera singers of Spain.With the berth of acoustic recordings, opera singers extended their field of artistic endeavour. Russian, Swedish, German and English folkloristic songs received particular impulse. In 1900, the tenor Davidov sang the Russian folklore immediately followed by Chaliapin. In 1901, Italian baritone Corradetti sang La Paloma, one of the very first songs to be recorded. In the early 1900, Spanish opera singers were singing La Partida and the Italians De Lucia and Caruso O sole mio. The tenor John McCormack recorded traditional songs in 1904 when he was hardly known yet.
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Opera Vivrà - o gioia!
Back in the day, in the Golden Age of Russian opera, folk songs, romances and later soviet songs were a very important part of the repertoire of every opera singer, even the greatest ones that were stars. And it is important to stress that they not only performed this repertoire but had a deep understanding and appreciation of it. It was not considered secondary. Opera singers could in those times be more famous and appreciated by people for their non-operatic singing. Back then opera singers had to be much more versatile than these days. Today they focus 99% on opera and don't have that deep understanding and skill that enables them to perform other genres on a high level. I personally can't listen to modern Russian opera singers singing folk songs - they distort them completely. It's a shame.