Frank Mullings


Frank Mullings (1881-1953) was another leading singer with both Beecham and BNOC. His repertoire included Tristan, Radames and Otello. It is often difficult to reconcile Mullings’ reputation, based upon reading contemporary reviews, with the recorded evidence, as he sings with a commitment for which the fragile recording apparatus was ill-equipped. The timbre of his voice seems not to have been sympathetic to the early microphones [though the Columbia engineers on this recording did a very good job] but, perhaps more importantly, Mullings’ recordings suffer more than most by being played at the wrong speed (Columbia records of this age played at 80, not 78, rpm). The discerning critic Neville Cardus, who came to know Mullings well when Mullings joined the teaching staff at the Royal Manchester College of Music in 1944, wrote earlier that “Mr. Mullings acted Canio in Pagliacci far beyond the plane of conventional Italian opera of the blood and sand order. His singing is not exactly all honey, but how intensely he lived in the part! He almost persuades us that there is real tragedy about – that if the puppet Canio were pricked, blood and not sawdust would come forth.”