Monthly Archives: February 2017

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


IVAR FRITHIOF ANDRESEN, Bass * 27 July 1896, Norway + 6 November 1940, Stockholm, Sweden

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Ivar Frithiof Andresen (July 27, 1896 – November 6, 1940), was a Norwegian opera singer who pursued a successful international career in Europe and the United States.

Andresen was the first Norwegian to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City (preceding his famous compatriot, the great Wagnerian soprano Kirsten Flagstad, by five years). A bass, he appeared in operas composed by Wagner, Mozart and Verdi.

Andresen was born in Kristiania. After making his debut in Stockholm in 1919, he worked at Kungliga Teatern (now Kungliga Operan, or Royal Swedish Opera), from 1921 to 1926. He then performed at the Dresden Semperoper (in 1926-1931) and the Städtische Oper Berlin (1931-1935), and also appeared as a guest artist at the New York Met (1930-1932) and the Bayreuth Festival (1927-1931).

In England, he sang at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 1928-1931 and at the Glyndebourne Festival in 1935.

Andresen’s singing earned considerable critical acclaim during his appearances in England, America and Germany, but developing health problems would curtail his career, and he died at the age of 44, in Stockholm, during the early stages of World War II.

He left, however, a sizeable legacy of 78-rpm gramophone recordings made in the 1920s and 1930s, which have been re-issued on compact disc.

Today, in Norway, Andresen is probably best known not for being an opera star, but for adorning the box of the cough-drop brand “IFA”, produced by the Nidar company. Since the 1930s, his face has been seen on the package, along with a quote recommending the product to “singers, public speakers, smokers and athletes”. Ivar F. Andersen was also the great uncle to Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Jens Stoltenberg.

Martha Fuchs, Heinz Tietjen and Ivar Andresen (1936).

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Posted by on February 19, 2017 in Uncategorized


HERBERT ALSEN, Bass * 12 October 1906, Hildesheim, Germany + 25 October 1978, Vienna, Austria;

A legendary heldenbass and chamber singer, Herbert Alsen initially wanted to become a violinist and studied that instrument at the local Hildesheim School of Humanistic Studies. During his Gymnasium years, he was the concertmaster in the episcopal orchestra and played at Sunday masses. It wasn’t until his later music studies in Berlin that he discovered his voice. During the Haydn Jahr celebration of 1931-1932, Alsen toured as a member of the choir that performed that composer’s Die Jahreszeiten (The Seasons) and Die Schöpfung (The Creation) throughout half of Germany. When the tour reached Hamburg, he was immediately contracted to sing as first bass in several roles at Hagen in Westfalen. His debut was in the role of Rocco in Beethoven’s Fidelio, and that performance was followed with ten more parts during the first year of his engagement. After performances in Dessau and Wiesbaden, he received offers to sing in Hamburg and Vienna. In 1936, he gave his first performance at the Wiener Staatsoper. That same year, he sang the role of Komtur in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Bruno Walter conducting, and the role of Pogner in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with Arturo Toscanini conducting. After two seasons with the Wiener Staatsoper he was engaged to appear at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. And afterward, he appeared on major opera stages, including La Scala, Covent Garden, Deutsche Staatsoper, and the Grand Opéra. He created more than 50 parts, the most popular of which were Gurnemanz in Wagner’s Parsifal, Sarastro in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), and Osmin in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction From the Seraglio). In 1955, Alsen vacationed with his wife Gisela and daughter Marina in Mörbisch, a small town then right on the border of the Iron Curtain. He described the place as a “lovely, friendly little spot with peasant houses and dozens of wine cellars.” Upon sighting the Mörbisch bay, he decided then and there to organize the Mörbischer Seefestspiele (Mörbisch Sea Festivals), which a mere two years later premiered with Johann Strauss’ Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron). In 1959 Alsen converted the Forchtenstein castle moat into a stage. Until his passing in 1978, he carried on his singing career between the two country festivals.

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Herbert Alsen Autograph

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Posted by on February 18, 2017 in Bassses


FREDERIC AUSTIN, Baritone * 30 March 1872, London + 10 April 1952, London;

Frederic Austin

Frederic Austin had an important career as a baritone, particularly in the leading roles of Wagner. He went on to play an influential part in operatic management, and was an important teacher.

His debut was as Gunther in Götterdämmerung, when Hans Richter conducted the famous English Ring at Covent Garden in 1908. When the cycles were performed by the Denhof company a couple of years later, he repeated that part, having sung Wotan at the previous three evenings. He quickly added the Dutchman and Sachs to his Wagnerian repertoire.

One of his greatest successes came in 1920, when he prepared an edition of the by then largely forgotten Beggar’s Opera. This opened at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, and ran for a couple of years as well as touring. Austin himself appeared in the early performances, singing Peachum.

He then collaborated, from 1922, on the management of BNOC, which toured successfully through the twenties. During the later phases of this he also worked with Sir Thomas Beecham on a scheme to create the Imperial League of Opera, an interesting attempt to initiate an early form of corporate sponsorship – prosperous individuals and businesses in specific communities were invited to provide financial support for the company’s visits. Sadly, while some cities had a positive outcome, the results of this were not uniformly encouraging – the onset of the great depression can hardly have helped.

Courtesy: Opera Scotland

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Posted by on February 16, 2017 in Baritones


PETER ANDERS, Tenor * 1 July 1908, Essen, Germany + 10 September 1954, Hamburg, Germany;

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Peter Anders (1 July 1908 – 10 September 1954) was a German operatic tenor who sang a wide range of parts in the German, Italian, and French repertories. He began by singing lyric roles and later undertook dramatic roles with equal success. He was also a prominent lieder singer.

Anders was born in Essen and studied at the Berlin Music Academy with Ernst Grenzebach, and later privately with Lula Mysz-Gmeiner, whose daughter Susanne he married. In 1931, he appeared in Berlin in La belle Hélène, and made his operatic debut the following year in Heidelberg, as Jacquino in Fidelio.

He sang in Darmstadt (1933–35), Cologne (1935–36), Hannover (1937–38), and then at the Munich State Opera (1938–40), where he took part in the creation of Richard Strauss’s Friedenstag. He returned next to Berlin and sang at the Berlin State Opera from 1940 until 1948. His repertory at that time included lyric roles such as Belmonte, Tamino, Lyonel, Hans, Hoffmann, Leukippos, Alfredo and Rodolfo.

Beginning in 1949, Anders undertook such heavier roles as Florestan, Max, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Walther, Siegmund, Radames, Otello, with equal success.

He made a few guest appearances at the Royal Opera House in London, the La Monnaie in Brussels and the San Carlo in Naples, as well as appearing at the Glyndebourne Festival.

Anders sang not only an impressive range of operatic roles but also appeared in several operetta parts. He performed regularly on German radio and in concert and was also active in oratorio and lieder recitals.

He became a favorite of Adolf Hitler’s regime and was not required to serve in the armed forces during the Second World War – instead entertaining German troops and participating in propaganda events. These activities tainted his reputation in the post-war world.

While at the height of his career, Anders died in a car accident in Hamburg at the age of 46. He made many recordings which have been reissued on CD.

Carola Goerlich as Maddalena and Peter Anders as Graf von Mantua in Rigoletto

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Posted by on February 15, 2017 in Tenors


EILEEN FARRELL, Soprano * 13 February 1920, Willimantic, Connecticut, USA + 23 March 2002, Park Ridge, New Jersey, USA;

The brilliant American soprano, Eileen Farrell, was the daughter of vaudeville singers. She received her early vocal training with Merle Alcock in New York, and later studied with Eleanor McClellan.

In 1940 Eileen Farrell sang on the radio. In 1947-1948 she made a USA tour as a concert singer, and in 1949 she toured South America. Her song recital in New York in October 1950 was enthusiastically acclaimed and secured for her immediate recognition. She was the soloist in L.v. Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra and in the 1950s and 1960s she became one of the most frequent soprano soloist to be engaged to appear with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of the late Leonard Bernstein; she was also the frequent soloist with other major orchestras, a favourite of such conductors as the late Thomas Schippers. She was known primarily for song and oratorio repertoire. For many years she was a soloist of the Bach Aria Group. She made her operatic debut as Santuzza with the San Carlo Opera in Tampa, Florida in 1956. The same year she made her debut at the San Francisco Opera as Leonora in Il Trovatore, and with the Chicago Lyric Opera in the title role of La Gioconda. In 1958 she joined the San Francisco Opera, opening the season in the title role of Cherubini’s Medea, and in 1957 she became a member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She made her belated Met debut in December 1960 singing Gluck’s Alcestis, and remained on the Met roster until 1964; then returned in 1965-1966.

From 1971 to 1980, Eileen Farrell held the position as Distinguished Professor of Music at the Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington. Then she held that title at the University of Maine in Orono from 1983 to 1985.

Eileen Farrell recorded the important film score for Interrupted Melody for which Eleanor Parker got an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in 1955, lip-synching Eileen’s singing. She made several CD’s singing the blues late in her career and her autobiography, “Can’t Help Singing,” was published in 1999 by Northeastern University. She enjoyed also success on radio and television shows. Married to a NYC policeman, the late Robert Reagan, Eileen had two children.

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Eileen with members of Louis Armstrong’s band, Spoleto, 1959


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Posted by on February 13, 2017 in Sopranos

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