Quite a number of the singers in Bluebell’s important series
“Great Swedish Singers” were as well known internationally
as they were to regular visitors to the Royal Opera House at Gustaf
Adolf Square in Stockholm. Arne Tyrén appeared mainly on
his home stage during a long career. His official debut was as
Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro
in 1956 and he went on singing
until circa 1990. I saw and heard him frequently during the 1970s
and 1980s in a wide variety of roles and before that became familiar
with his voice through Swedish Radio’s regular broadcasts
from the Royal Opera - not only from premieres actually. I remember
particularly Le nozze di Figaro
in the mid-1960s, an opera
where Erik Saedén for many years had been Figaro. At that
broadcast Tyrén took on the title role for the first time.
Even earlier I heard him in the title role in Karl Birger Blomdahl’s
Herr von Hancken
I certainly share the opinion of Stefan Johansson, Head of Dramaturgy
at the Royal Swedish Opera, as expressed in the liner-notes: ‘Tyrén
is chiefly remembered as an actor-singer with a voice more characteristic
than beautiful and a dominant and colourful stage personality.
It might come as a surprise listening to these representative
excerpts of a number of his impersonations so many years later
that Arne Tyrén in fact sounds so good and sings so well.’
Expressive but with a dryness of tone that increasingly came closer
to speech-song - those were my opinions of him. Here, in a well
chosen programme, he reveals a remarkably sonorous instrument.
The opening aria from du Puy’s Ungdom och dårskap
at once gives ample evidence of this, as well as his excellent
enunciation and his lively involvement. Edouard du Puy was a Swiss-born
musician, educated in Paris where he studied violin and piano
and eventually arrived at Stockholm, where he became concert-master
in the Royal Orchestra. He was also a singer, actor and composer.
The operetta Ungdom och dårskap
stems from 1814 and
was a great success. Du Puy played the hero, a seducer, a pursuit
which he also seems to have taken up in his private life.
Tyrén’s Doctor Bartolo is a person not to be tampered
with and is magnificently sung with the same larger than life
intensity that Fernando Corena also displayed. He can also scale
down the voice and be rather intimate. His patter singing is truly
accomplished. In a more serious vein he is an expressive Rocco
, unfortunately rather distantly recorded.
Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola
is impressive - though
his voice is decidedly Germanic. That also goes for Sulpice in
La fille du regiment
, where he is partnered by the brilliant
Margareta Hallin. Her perfectly equalized tone, technical mastery
and warmth make her an ideal Marie, her coloratura not an iota
inferior to Sutherland’s and her enunciation far superior.
In the Wagner repertoire he is an authoritative Pogner and a threatening
Hunding, features that no doubt made him even more thrilling when
seen in the opera house. Unni Rugtvedt is a good Erda with beautiful
legato in the scene from Siegfried but she is overshadowed by
Tyrén’s vital and powerful Wanderer.
One of the best tracks on this disc is the Song of the Viking
. It is sung in Russian, dark and imposing, and
his timbre is authentically Slavonic. Gremin’s aria, sung
in Swedish, is good and he displays fine legato singing in Banquo’s
aria from Macbeth
Arne Tyrén appeared in several modern operas and the doctor
offers good evidence of his declamatory capacity.
We also hear Anders Näslund in the title role. Näslund
was another excellent actor who shared this role with Erik Saedén
for several years. It is also worth noting the razor sharp precision
of the orchestra, conducted by the hyper sensitive Sixten Ehrling
in a recording from King’s Theatre in Edinburgh.
Arne Tyrén’s Ochs in Der Rosenkavalier
one of his very best impersonations. I saw the Folke Abenius production
when it was new in 1971 - it is still running and is as fresh
as it was almost forty years ago - but these two excerpts are
from an earlier production. Tyrén’s Ochs is a boisterous
and rather unbearable individual and even without the visual images
he stands out as a fully rounded character. Barbro Ericson (Annina)
and Kjerstin Dellert (Octavian) belonged to the same ‘iron
gang’ at the Royal Opera and graced the stage for many years.
In particular Ms Dellert’s whining Mariandl is superb.
Bearing in mind that Arne Tyrén rarely appeared abroad
this issue is primarily aimed at listeners who saw and heard him
regularly in Stockholm. The opportunities to hear him in many
of his best roles is something to be applauded. I believe, however,
that listeners, who never heard him in the flesh, will appreciate
his personality and lively readings.