Ed Rosen


In seinem mit Kartons voller Tonbandspulen und Platten vollgeräumten Apartment in New York traf ich Ed Rosen in den Siebzigern, als ich dort durch die heute legendären Schallplattenläden zog. Tower Records, Sam Goodies, Dalton´s und viele kleine zum Teil sehr schäbige Geschäfte, die den Namen kaum verdienten, boten damals dem Suchenden ein Cornicupium an Wundern – Live-Aufnahmen der Met, Mitschnitte aus Italien und der Welt, alles von Maria Callas oder Renata Tebaldi, Corelli, Tucker, Peerce, Milanov…. Opern, von denen man noch nie etwas gehört hatte. Alles streng illegal und wunderbar. Die damaligen LPs der Firmen MRF, BJR, HRE, Morgan, Pirate Records und wie sie alle hießen. Und ERR. Das war Ed Rosen Records. Ein Freund stellte mich Ed Rosen vor, und wir besuchten ihn. Ein begeisterter Opernfreak wie Mr. Tape (der legendäre Spulen-Händler, dessen Katalog sich wie die Bibel las), ein Sammler und ein Connaisseur, selber Bariton mit tollem Material (es gibt eine Tosca aus Covent Garden 1971 mit ihm als Sagrestano; und youtube hat eine Traviata-Probe mit Elizabeth Carron) und eben ein Platten-„Produzent“. Letzteres eigentlich eher tief illegal, weil sich alle Institute gegen diese Mitschnitte wehrten und zum Teil auch versuchten, gegen ihn vorzugehen. Die Met verhängte Hausverbot, Covent Garden auch.

Eugene Kohn, Ed Rosen, Aprile Millo and Seth David Lubin/ Foto mariaalsatti.com

Aber die Fans streuten Blumen. Damals waren Livemitschnitte neu und begehrt und unerhört teuer. Wenn die stets nach feuchtem Keller riechenden Pakete aus den USA in Berlin bei uns ankamen (stets mit dem Gang zum Zoll und mit schwitzenden Händen wegen der Gebühren verbunden) herrschte Weihnachtsstimmung. Ed Rosen hatte geliefert. In der Folge verschwanden die LPs, und die CDs hielten Einzug: Lyric Distribution hieß Eds Reich nun, Legato CDs hielten Eve Quelers und anderer Aufführungen fest. Aprile Millo und viele mehr hatten hier ein Fest, lange bevor die offiziellen Großen sie aufnahmen, die Gencer, Soviero, Niska, Caballé, Carreras – alle, die der Fan hören wollte. Dazu noch die bereits Legendären in unbekannten Aufnahmen. Und die Sänger waren glücklich, wie Aprile Millo nachstehend schwärmt. Ed war dann der Gründer und Inhaber von Premiere Opera, einem total grauen CD-Live-Versand. Er  starb am 21. Dezember nach kurzer Krankheit nach seinem 76. Geburtstag. New York sollte ihm auf der Plaza des Lincoln Centers ein Denkmal errichten. Er hat es verdient – auch wenn die Met das sicher anders sieht.


Aprile Millo mit Eve Queler und Kollegen vor dem Poster von La Wally vor der Carnegie Hall/ Foto Queler

Nachstehend treffen Erinnerungen an Ed Rosen ein, Seth David  Lubin ist einer der besten Kenner der Szene und wird einen eigenen Nachruf schreiben. Aber mit den bewegenden Erinnerungen von Aprile Millo auf facebook soll begonnen werden. A glooming peace this morning with it brings, the news of the crossing of Ed Rosen, dearest friend, beloved talisman of all singers and someone who kept the glories of many generations of singers alive for all to learn from and be inspired by with his Legato Classics, and then Premiere Opera. A baritone voice that captured everything he liked in singing was his very own….a true Verdi baritone with high extension and real beauty. So he didn’t just bravo from a passive state, he bravoed with a real understanding of singing that came from one who sang, and sang beautifully. He LOVED music sung well, and from the heart. To say I have known him almost all my life is putting it mildly…. I have known he and Seth David Lubin and so many others, with a sense of family that went beyond blood. We were all in different positions at the altar of music, and brought our best selves to it…. from this day, his first in Paradise, with his great pal, Richard Tucker, who he adored and idolized, and Sarah, and Renata Tebaldi…. Corelli, Merrill, EVERYBODY coming to greet him…..he is welcomed and made to feel immediately at home…. His beloved mom and dad.. He goes to a place he had in his heart, a place of perpetual sunbeams, and melodies, of oceans of light and tranquility and always LOVE….. You will always be with me Ed, always….in fact any place someone sings well and with beauty, in tune, and full of gusto and showmanship, with heart, YOU will be there….In every stirring chorus and thrilling overture or intermezzo, YOU will be there….. I cannot believe I write this, so soon as you were so young at heart, thank you dear friend, thank you for your love and your endless support, and that you loved opera and did everything you could to keep it alive… the world of opera today mourns one if its greatest hearts…. I will miss you terribly…. Pax Perpetua in Eternum.
Never another like you…..one of a kind…. I love you….. „io salisco….“


Ed Rosen vor dem Portrait von Richard Tucker in der Met/ Foto youtube

Seth David Lubin schreibt: Ed Rosen  (December 15th,1940 – December 21st, 2016 ) was born in Hewlett, NY. His mother Mildred, was a business woman and worked in the offices of Macy’s Department store. His father Irving worked in the clothing business in Manhattan. Ed is survived by his younger brother, Fred. Ed knew immediately that he was not cut out to work in his father’s dress business and his life proceeded in a distinctly different direction. As a youth Ed liked sports and played baseball. He was a life long Yankee’s fan. He never missed a game. His voice must have been very mature at a young age. He was cast in a summer camp production of South Pacific as  Emile de Becque. His love for the American Broadway musical continued his entire life.

Ed had a spectacular Verdian baritone voice. I heard him when he still was in his twenties. It was a rich Italianate sound with an upper extension to the tenor high B flat.  He could have been an asset to any operatic theater  in the world. He was persuaded by Montserrat Caballé to pursue a career. He actually was engaged to sing Amanasro in Verdi’s Aida in Miami, Florida, but this was not to be. In the end he was content to sing for friends at parties and concentrate on his business. His love for opera began very early in his teens.

Ed Rosen und José Carreras/ Foto youtube

Il Pirata (The Pirate): Ed began his business in his Freeport, Long Island apartment. It was a time when the technology of home recording had  become rather conman place. Opera fans all over the world began recording live broadcasts. As well there were many  fine portable recorders that were able to capture live performances in the theaters. This of course was a quiet underground pastime not sanctioned by the executives who ran the theaters as the New York’s  Metropolitan Opera.  And so began what was called pirated recordings.  In the late 1960s, I recall visiting Ed  at his apartment where had two reel to reel tape recorders set up on a folding card table. There he could copy the tapes of an ever expanding worldwide group of people who traded these performances. His business grew as he went from reel to reel tapes, to records, cassettes and finally to CD.  He amassed thousands of live broadcasts. The earliest primitive home recordings from the dawn of radio began to circulate.

Ed began his friendship with the greatest singers of his time. Richard Tucker was his favorite tenor of all time. Ed would become a friend  to the entire Tucker family which continued to this day. Most importantly became his friendship with Richard’s son, Barry. Ed was always on hand to supply live recordings of Tucker to be played at the annual Richard Tucker Foundation concerts.  I can recall one such concert when Birgit Nilsson was the honored guest. They played Ed’s provided tape of Tucker and Nilsson singing a brief excerpt from the great Act Two love duet from Verdi’s  BALLO IN MASCHERA. Nilsson all though retired from singing several years could be heard singing along with their tape as she made her entrance onto the stage!

Also it has to be noted that Tucker sang a performance of TOSCA at Long Island’s Hofstra University. Richard arranged that Ed would sing the role of Scarrione. It was one of Ed’s greatest memories to have sung beside Tucker on the same stage.  Ed would go on to meet Alfredo Kraus. It was Kraus who gave Ed, his own personal copy of the ‚Lisbon Traviata‘. This of course was the live performance of Violetta by Maria Callas. Ed released it on LP and its importance actually became the subject of the play, ‚The Lisbon Traviata‘ by Terrance McNally.

Ed Rosen und Carlo Bergonzi/ Foto youtube

As Ed’s reputation grew among the great singers, he was able to release rare performances of his favorite artists. He released two LP albums of live performance duets with Renata Tebaldi and Tucker. These two singers were splendid on the stage together, but never made a studio recordings, as they were never contracted by the same recording company. So, it was Ed that made it possible for later generations of fans to hear these two great singers together.

With the remarkable start of home video recording, Ed expanded his business to include live performances, again from theaters around the world. Not to say that there were legal complications between Ed and the law. However, I think finally the great theaters started to see the financial gain in commercially releasing these live television recordings. I believe Ed deserves credit for shaping and expanding the video tape and then the DVD  business of classical musical. More recently Ed often received phone calls from today’s newest stars. They often asked for recordings of live performances of earlier generations of singers, when studying a new role.

I’m not sure that Ed realized his legacy was in part right in front of him. Today’s Internet opera station on Sirius Radio plays live Metropolitan Opera Broadcasts 24 hours a day. Many of these historic performances came directly from Ed Rosen’s collection. In this day of Internet radio and video, we can listen or watch live performances from all over the world. But before all this it was a young man with two reel to reel tape recorders who had the idea to make available great live operatic performances. For this we will always be grateful to Ed Rosen.