HULDA LASHANSKA, Soprano * 15 March 1893, Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States + 17 January 1974, Park Avenue, United States;

(March 15, 1893 – January 17, 1974) was an American soprano.

Hulda Lashanska was the youngest of three daughters born to Henry and Barbette Lashanska (her siblings were Rosie and Lillian) in Manhattan, New York.

She studied singing with Frieda Ashforth and Marcella Sembrich. Before leaving for Europe to further her studies, Lashanska’s recital debut took place on May 2, 1909 at the Lyceum Theatre in New York City, where she performed under the name “Hulda Lashan.” A critic wrote “[Lashanska’s] natural ability has been guided into proper channels by thorough instruction, and even now she sings with a measure of art and understanding very uncommon in a singer of he years and inexperience. She revealed an abundance of excellent artistic material, especially a voice of vibrant quality, rich in color, and a pronounced degree of musical and dramatic temperament.” Organized by Alexander Lambert, the concert’s purpose was to raise funds for Lashanska’s continued studies abroad.

Her first song recital at Aeolian Hall took place on January 24, 1918. A critic remarked: “From Sembrich, who has taught her for two years, she has acquired not only the art of easy and pure tone production, but also the secrets of style and correct phrasing dependent largely, on her splendid breathing control. She is an oasis in the desert of voices.” She first sang at Carnegie Hall in 1919.

“Madam Lashanska has a voice of pure and limpid beauty, artistic gifts of musicianship bestowed like the proverbial silver spoon, by the good fairies at her birth, and she has “the aristocratic note,” quoted by Emma Eames.

Her only appearance at the Metropolitan Opera was at the eighteenth Sunday evening concert, March 17, 1918, where she sang “Depuis le jour” from Louise and three songs.

Lashanska first appeared with the New York Philharmonic on November 27, 1910, where she sang Franz Liszt’s “Die Lorelei” with the orchestra conducted by Walter Damrosch. Her last appearance with the Phiharmonic was November 22, 1936 at Lewisohn Stadium where she sang an aria by George Frideric Handel and songs by Hugo Wolf under conductor John Barbirolli. An unnamed critic wrote “Her singing merited praise for tonal quality and mellowness along with understanding of the moods of the music. Certain outstanding high notes were somewhat vibratory, but her voice was satisfactory in volume for the taxing requirements of outdoor performance and, for the most part, produced with ample fluency.”

She died on January 17, 1974 at her home at 550 Park Avenue in Manhattan, at the age of 80.

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Posted by on March 16, 2017 in Uncategorized


HELGA PILARCZYK, Soprano * 12 March 1926, Schöningen, Germany + 15 September 2011, Hamburg, Germany;

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Helga Pilarczyk (12 March 1926 – 15 September 2011) was a German operatic soprano.

Born in Schöningen, she originally trained as a pianist, at Braunschweig and at the Musikhochschule Hamburg. However, she made her debut as a contralto at the Staatstheater Braunschweig, as Irmentraud in Lortzing’s Der Waffenschmied in 1951. By 1954 to 1955, she emerged as a dramatic soprano at the Hamburg State Opera, where she remained until the 1966/67 season.

Pilarczyk became a specialist in works of the twentieth century, including works by Richard Strauss, Salome and Die Frau ohne Schatten (as the Dyer’s Wife), Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel, Luigi Dallapiccola’s Il prigioniero, Stravinsky’s Oedipus rex and The Flood, Alban Berg’s Wozzeck and Lulu, and Schoenberg’s Erwartung and Von heute auf morgen. She appeared in Zürich, Berlin, at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (as Salome in 1958), Florence (Erwartung and Wozzeck), the Glyndebourne Festival (as Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos by Strauss, 1958), Paris Opéra (Wozzeck, 1963, and Von heute auf morgen, 1967), La Scala (Lulu, 1963), and Vienna.

In 1965, the soprano debuted both at the Metropolitan Opera (Wozzeck, under Karl Böhm) and in Chicago (Wozzeck, with Sir Geraint Evans, under Bruno Bartoletti). In 1967, she left the stage in order to devote herself to her family, and later taught at the Musikhochschule Hamburg.

Her discography consists principally of recordings of Erwartung (conducted by Hermann Scherchen and Robert Craft, both in 1960) and Pierrot lunaire (conducted by Pierre Boulez in 1961). Opera Depot has issued her 1963 performance of Puccini’s Il tabarro, conducted by Alberto Erede, on Compact Disc.

The Kammersängerin died, following a brief illness, in Hamburg, at the age of eighty-six, leaving behind two children. Helga Pilarczyk is buried in Hamburg.

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Posted by on March 12, 2017 in Sopranos


EVA TURNER, Soprano * 10 March 1892, Werneth, Greater Manchester + 16 June 1990, London, United Kingdom;

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Dame Eva Turner (10 March 1892 – 16 June 1990) was an English dramatic soprano with an international reputation. Her strong, steady and well-trained voice was renowned for its clarion power in Italian and German operatic roles.
She began her career as a chorister with the Carl Rosa Opera Company and steadily took on larger roles such as Kate Pinkerton and the lead role of Cio Cio San in Madama Butterfly, Micaela in Carmen, Musetta in Puccini’s La bohème, Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana, Elisabeth in Tannhäuser, Freia in Das Rheingold, Elsa in Lohengrin, Brünnhilde in Der Ring des Nibelungen, Leonora in La forza del destino, Leonora in Fidelio, Eva in Die Meistersinger, and the title roles in Aida, Tosca (in one performance of which the famous incident with a trampoline occurred) and Thaïs.
In 1924, after an audition for the La Scala company in Milan, she was engaged by its principal conductor Arturo Toscanini as Freia and Sieglinde for the La Scala Ring Cycle of 1924–25.
She also played the title role in Turandot. She was in the audience for the April 1926 premiere at La Scala and first sang it in December that year at the Teatro Grande in Brescia. In 1928, she performed it at the Covent Garden (also playing Aida and Santuzza during the season), and in 1929, she took the part at La Scala.
She retired from the stage in 1948. And the following year, she was offered the position of visiting the Professor of Voice at the University of Oklahoma, and a one-year contract was extended for nine years. She returned to London in 1959 where she was appointed Professor of Singing at the Royal Academy of Music, a position she held until aged well into her 80s.

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Posted by on March 10, 2017 in Sopranos


ROBERT TEAR, Tenor * 8 March 1939 – Barry, Glamorgan, Wales, UK + 29 March 2011 – London, England;

The distinguished tenor (and conductor), Robert Tear, was born and educated in Wales. He attended King’s College, then joined then joined St. Paul’s Cathedral as lay chorister, and later became a choral scholar at King’s College, Cambridge (1957-1961).

Subsequently Robert Tear embarked on his career as a soloist and quickly established an enviable reputation. Robert tear had a distingished association with the English Opera Group and his interpretations of the tenor roles in the performances of Benjamin Britten’s operas have received special praise. In 1966 he undertook the domanding role of Quint in performances of The Turn of the Screw throughout England and in Leningrad and Moscow during the Opera Group’s highly successful tour of Russia.

Throughout his career Robert Tear has shown his versatility and great talent as one of the world’s leading tenors and has worked with eminent conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Carlo Maria Giulini, Josef Krips and Herbert von Karajan. He is sought after by all the major opera houses of Europe and the USA and is a regular guest of various orchestras. His first appearance with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was in 1970. He has also been in great demand at important festivals, including Holland, Versailles, City of London and Edinburgh Festivals.

Robert Tear was a regular guest at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, appearing there every season since his debut in l970. In 1988-1989 he made his debut with English National Opera in The Turn of the Screw and the following season included his highly successful debut as Aschenbach in Death in Venice with the Glyndebourne Touring Company, later filmed by BBC TV.

Robert Tear was also greatly in demand as a concert singer, appearing regularly at the South Bank Centre and in many European capitals. He also worked on many television projects, including the Jeunesses Musicales War Requiem performances in East and West Berlin to celebrate the City’s 750th Anniversary in l987.

Robert Tear made well over 250 records for every major recording company, including Bach Cantatas, numerous recital records, Victorian ballads with his friends Benjamin Luxon and André Previn, B. Britten’s Serenade and Nocturne with Carlo Maria Giulini for DGG and all the major choral works. Recent recordings include B. Britten’s War Requiem, Gustav Mahler’s Das Klagende Lied (both with Sir Simon Rattle), Die Winterreise with Philip Ledger and one of the first recordings of Arnold Schoenberg’s arrangement of G. Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde for BMG Records with Mark Wigglesworth and The Premiere Ensemble. His recording of Dyson’s The Canterbury Pilgrims with the London Symphony Orchestra and Richard Hickox for Chandos was released in 1997.

In l985 Robert Tear made his USA conducting debut in Minneapolis and subsequently has worked with the BBC National Orchestra, London Mozart Players, Northern Sinfonia, English Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Toulouse Chamber Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta and Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

The 1997-1998 season included performances of Billy Budd with Welsh National Opera, Dream of Gerontius with the Hallé Orchestra and coaching at the Aix Festival. During the 1998-1999 season, opera performances included The Bartered Bride/ROH, Boris Godunov/ENO, Billy Budd/Australian Opera, Elektra/Bayerische Staatsoper. Concert performances included Das klagende Lied/Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, The Mask of Time/BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBC Proms), Elektra/Royal Scottish National Orchestra and solo and conducting engagements with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.

In April 2004, Robert Tear marked his 65th birthday with an accomplished Wigmore Hall recital bravely devoted to songs by Britten, Dove and Madeleine Dring. A full house must have gladdened the heart of a singer – “Bob” to his friends – who, over 40 years, had met many exigent challenges with a fine lyric tenor, a questing intellect and altogether admirable musicianship. He made a final performance at the Royal Opera House in London in 2009, as emperor Altoum in Puccini’s Turandot.

From 1992-1994 Robert Tear was Artistic Director of the Vocal Faculty of the London Royal Schools of Music, and he currently holds the Chair of International Singing at the Royal Academy of Music. He was an Honorary Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, and in l984 was awarded the C.B.E.

Robert Tear married his childhood sweetheart Hilary Thomas in 1961. He died in a London hospice on March 29, 2011 at the age of 72. The cause was cancer. He is survived by his wife, their two daughters, Becky and Lizzie; and two grandchildren. Lizzie Tear has enjoyed a career in pop music.

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Posted by on March 8, 2017 in Tenors


NORMAN TREIGLE, Bass-Baritone * 6 March 1927, New Orleans, Louisiana, United + 16 February 1975, New Orleans, Louisiana, United;

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Norman Treigle was one of America’s most remarkable bass-baritones in the two decades following World War II. He was particularly known for roles of villainy and supernatural evil. He had a strong stage presence and a theatrical manner of singing. Divorced from the visual element, a pinched quality in his voice and a habit of taking on a rasping tone to express evil became somewhat too evident on recordings.

He graduated from high school in 1943 and even though underage joined the U.S. Navy to serve in World War II. After the war ended in 1945, he was discharged from service and returned to New Orleans, where he marred Loraine Siegel in 1946 and in the same year began studying voice with Elisabeth Wood of Loyola University of New Orleans.

He sang with the local symphony and in 1947 formally debuted in opera at the New Orleans Opera. That season, he sang the parts of the Duke of Verona in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette and as Lodovico in Verdi’s Otello. He continued his studies at Loyola and lessons with Wood until 1951.

He joined the New York City Opera, debuting there in 1953 as Colline in La Bohème. He quickly became known as an outstanding opera singer-actor and was, with Beverly Sills, one of the major pillars of that company. Both artists shared the misfortune of getting on the bad side of Rudolf Bing, director of the Met, and were not able to make Metropolitan Opera debuts for an unseemly long time. In Treigel’s case, he would not be invited to sing there until 1972, after Bing’s retirement, when the Company suddenly found it could use him in a variety of roles.

By then, Treigle had gained great fame, a process that began in 1956 when he triumphed in a new opera, Susannah by Carlisle Floyd, as the villainous Reverend Olin Blitch. He so impressed the composer that he was cast in the premieres of three of his subsequent operas, The Passion of Janathan Wade (1962), The Sojourner and Mollie Sinclair (1963) and Markheim (1966). He was also a notable Figaro in Mozart’s opera and one of the darker and more evil incarnations of the same composer’s Don Giovanni, and had a notable success as Handel’s Julius Caesar. He also sang the grandfather in Copland’s The Tender Land and the title role in Luigi Dallapiccola’s The Prisoner.

But his most vivid characterizations were in personifications of evil: The four baritone nemeses in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Mephistophélès in Gounod’s Faust, the same character in Boito’s Mefistofele, and Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov.

After his Metropolitan Opera success in 1972, he enlarged his international activities, appearing in Hamburg, Milan, and London (debuting at Covent Garden in 1974). Following his London appearance in Faust, La Scala of Milan invited him to sing Mefistofele with them, and a strong international career seemed inevitable.

However, it was not to be. He died unexpectedly in New Orleans in 1975 of a possibly accidental overdose of sleeping pills. He left only three professional studio recordings, plus several “dall vivo” recordings (authorized and unauthorized), and one videotaped scene from Susannah.

He also left a worthy successor, his daughter Phyllis Treigle, who likewise studied at Loyola, became an exceptional singing actress and joined the New York City Opera, debuting as a supernatural incarnations of evil, the predatory ghost Miss Jessel in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw. Among other roles of evil, she has taken the part of Médée and, in yet another parallel with her father’s career, has had success in the title role of Floyd’s Susannah.

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Portrait by Alen MacWeeney, 1967

Treigle as Handel’s Cesare at New York City Opera, 1967

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As Olin Blitch in Susannah at NYCO, 1971

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As Boito’s Mefistofele at NYCO, 1969

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Posted by on March 6, 2017 in Bass-Baritones


RAFFAELE ARIÉ, Bass * 22 August 1920, Sofia + 17 March 1988, Switzerland;

Raffaele Arié (22 August 1920, Sofia – 17 March 1988, Switzerland) was a Bulgarian bass, particularly associated with the Italian and Russian repertories.

Arié studied first in his native city with C. Brambaroff, making his stage debut at the Sofia Opera in 1945. He then left for Italy to further his studies, and was a pupil of Riccardo Stracciari, Apollo Granforte and Carlo Tagliabue. He made his debut at La Scala in 1946, as the King in The Love for Three Oranges.

He sang widely in Italy, creating in Venice, the role of Trulove in The Rake’s Progress in 1951. He also appeared at the Vienna State Opera, the Salzburg Festival, the Paris Opéra, and the Aix-en-Provence Festival.

His roles included; Osmin, Commendatore, Sarastro, Méphistopheles, Varlaam, etc. He was especially admired as Fiesco, as both Filippo and Il grand Inquisitore in Don Carlo, and as Boris Godunov.

Arié possessed a deep, easily produced and fine-textured voice, he can be heard on record, as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, opposite Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano, Tito Gobbi, under Tullio Serafin.

Raffaele Arié in 1955

Raffaele Arié as Mephistoles in Gounod’s Faust

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Posted by on February 28, 2017 in Bassses


RÉGINE CRESPIN, Soprano * 23 February 1927, Marseille, France + 5 July 2007, Paris, France;

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Régine Crespin, (born Feb. 23, 1927, Marseilles, France—died July 5, 2007, Paris, France), French opera singer who was known for the warmth and strength of her voice and the subtlety of her interpretation in a variety of soprano roles. She was particularly associated with the operas of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, and the Marschallin in Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier became a signature role for her, both in French translation and later in German. Crespin made her professional debut (1950) as Elsa in a French-language production of Wagner’s Lohengrin. In 1957 she portrayed Madame Lidoine, the new prioress, in the Paris premiere of Francis Poulenc’s Les Dialogues des Carmélites. The next year she sang her first German-language role, Kundry, in Wagner’s Parsival at the Bayreuth Festival. When health problems in the early 1970s affected Crespin’s vocal range, she retrained her voice as a mezzo-soprano. Her greatest role during this later phase of her career was Madame de Croissy, the old prioress, in Les Dialogues des Carmélites. Crespin was admitted to the Legion of Honour as a chevalier (1972) and advanced to officer (1982) and commander (1994).

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Posted by on February 23, 2017 in Sopranos

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