RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf Sings Operetta
Richard HEUBERGER (1850 – 1914)
1. Geh’n wir ins Chambre Séparée [3:05]
Carl ZELLER (1842 – 1898)
2. Ich bin die Christel von der Post [1:36]
3. Rosenlied: Schenkt man sich Rosen in Tirol [2:43]
Franz LEHÁR (1870 – 1948)
4. Einer wird kommen [3:32]
Der Graf von Luxemburg
5. Hoch, Evoë, Angèle, Dider [3:34]
Johann STRAUSS II (1825 – 1899)
6. Nun’s Chorus and Laura’s Song [4:02]
Karl MILLÖCKER (1842 – 1899)
7. Ich schenk’ mein Herz [3:35]
8. Was ich im Leben beginne [2:29]
Franz von SUPPÉ (1819 – 1895)
9. Hab ich nur deine Liebe [3:02]
Der Graf von Luxemburg
10. Heut’ noch wird’ ich Ehefrau [3:21]
11. Sei nicht bös [4:18]
12. Meine Lippen sie küssen so heiss [5:07]
Rudolf SIECZYNSKI (1879 – 1952)
13. Wien, du Stadt meine Träume [3:12]
Bonus Tracks from Elisabeth Schwarzkopf Operettas
Die lustige Witwe
14. Bitte meine Herren (with chorus) [3:05]
15. Viljalied (with chorus) [5:12]
Das Land des Lächelns
16. Ich danke für die Huldigung … Gern, gern, wär’ ich verliebt (with chorus) [3:16]
17. Wer hat die Liebe uns ins Herz gesenkt** [4:52]
Johann STRAUSS II
Eine Nacht in Venedig
18. Frutti di mare [2:13]
19. Was mir der Zufall gab [1:39]
20. Gruss dich Gott, du liebes Nesterl [3:41]
21. Czardas: Klänge der Heimat* [4:42]
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano), Nicolai Gedda (tenor)**, Philharmonia Orchestra/Otto Ackermann, Herbert von Karajan*
rec. London, early 1950s, * 1955
ALTO ALC 1122 [72:27]
The first thirteen tracks on this disc were issued in the 1950s as an LP. It immediately became a classic – and has so remained. The sound was very good for its time and this transfer sounds magnificently well. The programme is delectable, every song is a gem and – most important of all – Elisabeth Schwarzkopf has never been surpassed as an operetta singer. She was a great opera singer too: Mozart, Richard Strauss but also ventured into the Italian repertoire and sang Mrs Ford and Liù on complete recordings. All through her career she also championed the song repertoire: Mozart, Schubert and Hugo Wolf being particular favourites. Being an immensely sophisticated singer one might think she was too refined for down-to-earth operetta. But it is the other way round. Many of the great operetta roles are refined women. If in provincial performances they can seem pretty plain, when ennobled by a singer who can find the many subtle nuances, then the characters become real persons. Elisabeth Schwarzkopf was that kind of singer. She had a glorious voice when she was in her prime, as here, but that’s only half the secret. It’s the way she turns the phrases, caresses the melodies, gives ‘face’ to the characters. Elegance, charm and a twinkle in the eye – that’s the essence of Schwarzkopf.
There have been other good operetta singers: Lotte Lehmann and Elisabeth Schumann from an earlier generation, Hilde Güden from Schwarzkopf’s own, Rita Streich and Anneliese Rothenberger from the generation after are singers that I enjoy immensely – but Schwarzkopf enthrals me. Among other things she has that hard-to-describe but irresistible Viennese lilt that only natives can produce. But Schwarzkopf wasn’t Viennese, she was German, born in Prussia, in Jarotschin, which today is situated in Poland. She had her musical training in Berlin and didn’t come to Vienna until the early 1940s. But though going on 30 she managed to adopt that Viennese atmosphere more completely than any other singer, and one need only listen to the delightful song from Der Opernball, that opens the recital, to hear this and be enchanted. It was my intention to just dip into some of the numbers just to make sure memory hadn’t deceived me. It hadn’t and I kept listening through the whole recital and ended up playing it once again from beginning to end. That’s praise, indeed!
I didn’t make any notes, once I had started listening, but every track is worth an in-depth analysis. The best way of enjoying the disc is, however, to listen to it, repeatedly. And those who need further proof of Schwarzkopf’s superiority should try track 11 Sei nicht bös from the otherwise completely forgotten Der Obersteiger. She treats the aria as though it was by one of the great Lied composers. Absolutely marvellous!
In the bargain we also get almost 30 minutes of excerpts from her complete operetta recordings. Musically they have never been surpassed either, though the mono sound is dated nowadays. There we also get a glimpse of the best operetta tenor since Richard Tauber, Nicolai Gedda, in the delectable duet from Das Land des Lächelns.
The playing of the Philharmonia Orchestra is a further asset and Otto Ackermann was one of the best operetta conductors of his time. In the excerpt from Die Fledermaus, the czardas Klänge der Heimat, Ackermann is replaced by Herbert von Karajan.
All the complete recordings are worth owning but even if you have them you should invest in this disc for the sake of the first thirteen tracks. They should be in every operetta collection.
I kept listening through the whole recital and ended up playing it once again from beginning to end. Absolutely marvellous!