Monthly Archives: February 2017

SARIE LAMPRECHT 3 May 1923, Tuinplaas, Blanco district Western Cape, South Africa + 13 May 2005, Constantiaberg Cape Town, South Africa;

Sarie Lamprecht was born in 1923 and comes from George in the Cape Province. She received her first singing instruction from Beatrice Gibson in Cape Town, and in 1953 went to Austria, where she continued her studies in Vienna. During that time she concentrated mainly on the Lied and Oratorio, of which she acquired an extensive knowledge.

Since 1957 Miss Lamprecht has been living in Johannesburg, where she has acquired a wide reputation as a teacher of singing. Her regular solo performances on the air have demonstrated her extensive repertoire, which includes both classical and modern music.

She is well known as a soloist with the SABC Symphony Orchestra and attracted criticism for her appearance in Verdi’s Requiem, which was given by the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra conducted by David Tidboald. As radio artist she is particularly lauded for her excellent interpretations of the German song.

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Posted by on February 11, 2017 in Uncategorized


NICOLAI GEDDA, Tenor * 11 July 1925 (age 91 years), Stockholm, Sweden + 8 January 2017;

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OF ALL THE IMPORTANT TENORS active during the latter half of the twentieth century, Nicolai Gedda was by far the most versatile and industrious, a questing musical spirit who left few areas of the operatic and song repertories unexplored. During a career that spanned nearly fifty years, Gedda was in demand the world over for the warm, sweet, silvery beauty of his voice, his patrician command of style, and an unshowy but dazzling technical virtuosity that was invariably in the service of the music.

Born to poor parents in Stockholm, Gedda was raised by his father’s sister and her Russian husband, a Don Cossack singer and cantor in a Russian orthodox church. It was from his strict stepfather that Gedda picked up his facility with languages and reading music—as well as an innate shyness and a distaste for confrontation that did not serve him well in later dealings with opera managements, not to mention two unhappy early marriages. The vocal rudiments were there from the beginning, however, and while he was working at his first job, as a bank teller, one of his helpful customers recommended a teacher—Carl-Martin Oehman, a former lyric tenor at Stockholm Opera and mentor of Jussi Björling.

Oehman, Gedda once recalled in his typically modest way, “taught me all the essentials, which I knew nothing about.” One can’t help thinking that the perfect vocal placement, firm muscular support, smooth register management and sovereign musical instincts were already present, just waiting to be coaxed out. Additional studies at Stockholm Conservatory lasted just two years before Gedda—in 1952, at age twenty-six—was given the leading role in Adam’s Postillon de Lonjumeau at the Royal Opera and created a sensation, especially with the brilliant high Ds that cap the coachman Chapelou’s famous entrance aria. Walter Legge, EMI’s legendary record impresario, and his wife, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, were in town and demanded to hear the new tenor everyone was raving about. After a short audition, Legge immediately fired off cables to conductor Herbert von Karajan and Antonio Ghiringhelli, the intendant of La Scala: “Just heard the greatest Mozart singer in my life: his name is Nicolai Gedda.”

What happened next would probably leave any young singer breathless. Gedda was instantly cast as Dimitri in EMI’s splashy new recording of Boris Godunov, starring Boris Christoff (“that Boris recording opened the doors of the world to me,” Gedda once remarked), and he made a La Scala debut as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni under Karajan’s baton. Gedda suddenly had invitations to sing everywhere—Faust and Weber’s Oberon in Paris, the Duke of Mantua at Covent Garden and dozens of other requests from Rome, Vienna, Salzburg, Berlin, Munich and Tokyo.

Meanwhile Legge kept Gedda busy in the recording studios after Boris with Bach’s B-minor Mass under Karajan, rarities such as Cornelius’s Barbier von Baghdad and the French version of Gluck’s Orphée, Strauss’s Capriccio, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Faust, as well as solo recitals covering a wide range of repertory. One of the most impressive examples I know of the young Gedda on disc, at age twenty-eight, is Lehár’s Land des Lächelns, in which he sings the mysterious yet passion-driven Prince Sou-Chong, a role made famous by Richard Tauber. It’s a ravishing piece of singing, delicately shaded and exquisitely controlled until all the character’s banked-up emotions come tumbling out in a glorious rendition of the Tauberlied, “Dein ist mein ganzes Herz.” Even here, vocal connoisseurs will marvel at the singer’s technical control when Gedda eases into the reprise of the big tune without so much as drawing a breath.

Rudolf Bing snapped up Gedda early on (an unusual move by this canny impresario, who usually liked to keep Metropolitan Opera audiences expectantly waiting, even for the most sensational new discoveries), and Gedda made his Met debut on November 1, 1957, as Faust. Thereafter the tenor, like so many important singers of his generation, tended to base himself in New York, while reserving plenty of time to fulfill engagements in Europe and make hundreds of recordings. So New York heard Gedda display the full range of his vocal talents and language facility until he left the company in 1983—classic roles (Don Ottavio, Admèto in Alceste), standard repertory (the Duke, Alfredo, Rodolfo, Pinkerton, Edgardo), French specialties (Hoffmann, Don José, des Grieux, Pelléas, Roméo), bel canto (La Sonnambula, L’Elisir d’Amore, Don Pasquale), Russian roles (Dmitri, Lenski, Gherman), new American opera (Vanessa and The Last Savage) and even a touch of operetta (Johann Strauss’s Gypsy Baron). Gedda never generated the hysterical fan response of, say, Franco Corelli, but few left his finely nuanced, vocally secure, emotionally generous performances feeling cheated.

Gedda wound down his career slowly during the 1990s, giving concerts, teaching and taking on occasional character roles, such as the ancient Abdisu, Patriarch of Assyria, in Covent Garden’s 1997 production of Pfitzner’s Palestrina. He also finally found marital contentment in 1997 with Aino Sellermark, who collaborated with Gedda on his memoirs, My Life—My Art. The couple settled in what appeared to be an idyllic retirement in Tolochenaz, a Swiss villa, where Gedda could take pride in recalling an extraordinarily productive career that had made him one of the most admired and widely heard tenors of his generation. —Peter G. Davis

Courtesy: OPERA NEWS


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Posted by on February 10, 2017 in Uncategorized


PIERO CAPPUCCILLI, Baritone * 09 November 1926, Trieste, Italy + 12 July 2005, Trieste;

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Italian operatic baritone who enjoyed a 35-year career during which he was widely regarded as the leading Italian baritone of his generation; he was particularly known for his tendency to insert unwritten high notes into his performances. Cappuccilli’s official debut was at the Teatro Nuovo in Milan in 1957 as Tonio in Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, and he first sang at La Scala in 1964. Cappuccilli performed in opera houses throughout Europe and in the U.S., where he had a long association with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. He was best known for his interpretations of Giuseppe Verdi’s operas, in which he sang 17 roles. After a serious auto accident in 1992, Cappuccilli quit performing and concentrated on teaching.

Piero Cappuccilli e Maria Callas:

Piero Cappuccilli e Maria Callas

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Jose Carreras and Piero Cappuccilli Autographs on Private Photo. CoA

1979, Wien: Private photograph , hand signed by Jose Carreras and Piero Cappuccilli. Photographed and signed at the Vienna States Opera House.

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Posted by on February 8, 2017 in Baritones


JUSSI BJÖRLING, Tenor * 5 February 1911, Borlänge, Sweden + 9 September 1960, Stockholm, Sweden;


Björling – Life and Career


Jussi Björling was born in 1911 in Borlänge in the Swedish province of Dalarna, 220 km NW of Stockholm. His father David was a tenor and singing teacher and trained the voices of his children from an early age. Already in 1915, his three oldest children, the boys Olle, Jussi and Gösta, made their first public performance in a church. They toured extensively with their father in Sweden and 1919-1921 also in the US, where six recordings were made in 1920.
Opera debut

In 1928, Jussi began his studies at the Stockholm Conservatory and in August 1930, he could make his official debut at the Royal Opera in Stockholm in Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni. Already in 1929, he had begun to make recordings as a tenor, and in 1930 he made his first opera recordings.

In 1931, Jussi Björling had a breakthrough outside Sweden with a recital at the Copenhagen Tivoli. He continued to sing at the Stockholm Opera (e.g. Guillaume Tell & Barbiere di Siviglia 1931, Rigoletto & Elisir d’amore 1932, Traviata, Roméo et Juliette & Tosca 1933) and made many recordings in Swedish, mostly of popular and operetta songs. He even recorded dance music under the pseudonym “Erik Odde”.

Jussi Björling’s success steadily increased at the Opera in Stockholm, where he took on many new roles (e.g. Ballo in maschera, Faust, Bohème & Fanciulla del West 1934, Cavalleria rusticana, Aida & Trovatore 1935, Pagliacci & Madama Butterfly 1936).

A world career begins

In 1936, he made his first tour to Central Europe, and had great success in opera and recital in Czechoslovakia and Vienna. This brought him his first international record contract, and he began to record opera and songs in the original language. One of his first international recordings was “Celeste Aida”.
In 1937, besides singing opera in Stockholm, Jussi made a longer tour to Germany, Austria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the spring. In the autumn, after having given his first recital in London, he went on to the United States for a tour which included radio concerts, recitals and his American opera debut in Chicago. In Sweden, his great popularity was demonstrated for instance at his regular open-air recitals at Skansen and Gröna Lund in Stockholm.
Debut at the Metropolitan Opera

In the autumn of 1938, Jussi Björling went back to the United States and had his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in November (Bohème). He would then return to that opera house as a leading tenor almost every year, with an exception for the late war years.

Jussi Björling sang in two operettas in Stockholm (Fledermaus 1935, Zigeunerbaron 1938), and he made famous recordings of operetta songs, among them one of his favourite encores “Ich hab’ kein Geld”.

In 1939, Jussi Björling’s permanent contract with the Royal Opera in Stockholm expired, but he often returned to that opera house as a guest during his whole career. He made his opera debut in London in May (Trovatore), and a little later he gave a radio concert in the Netherlands, from which the excerpt from the Carmen aria is taken.

In August, he sang for the first time under Arturo Toscanini, when Verdi’s Requiem was performed in Lucerne in Switzerland. Another of the soloists was the Swedish mezzo Kerstin Thorborg, who is seen with him on the film clip.
Continued success in America

In the autumn of 1940, Jussi Björling made his opera debut in San Francisco (Bohème), sang two concerts in New York under Toscanini (Verdi’s Requiem & Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis) and opened the Metropolitan Opera season for the first time, as King Gustavus III of Sweden in Verdi’s Ballo in maschera. In the spring, he had made his first recordings in the USA, where he demonstrated his ability as a lieder singer in several Schubert songs.
In Europe during World War II

After he had come back to Sweden in the spring of 1941, Jussi Björling remained in Europe and mostly in his native country for the rest of the World War. His most important appearance abroad was his Italian opera debut in Florence (Trovatore) in the spring of 1943. He toured extensively in Sweden, partly as a field artist, and appeared many times on Swedish radio.
Back to the USA

In October 1945, Jussi Björling returned to the USA after the war for an 8-month tour, and in the next years he spent a large part of the year in America, singing in opera and concert. However, much of the summer was always spent in Sweden, at his summer home on Siarö in the Stockholm archipelago. In August 1946, he sang for the first time with the La Scala ensemble in Milan (Rigoletto at Sports Palace), and in May/June 1951 a second time (Ballo in maschera). Beginning in 1947, he often had his wife Anna-Lisa, an opera singer whom he had married in 1935, as partner in concert and a few times also in opera. In 1949, Jussi took on a new role, Des Grieux in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, and the next year another one, the title role in Verdi’s Don Carlo, which opened the season of the Met. The first of his many recitals at Royal Albert Hall in London took place in 1951. In 1950, he began a series of opera recordings in New York, of which the “Pearlfishers duet” with Robert Merrill, recorded 1951, is certain to be the most famous one.
First complete opera recording

In the spring of 1952, Jussi Björling made the first of what would eventually become 12 complete opera and oratorio recordings, Verdi’s Il Trovatore.
South Africa

In 1953, Jussi Björling once more opened the Metropolitan season, this time in Faust, but this was followed by a period with voice problems caused by laryngitis. Jussi Björling’s only appearances outside Europe and America took place in the autumn of 1954, when he made a concert tour to South Africa. In 1955, he sang for the first time at the Lyric Theatre (later Lyric Opera) of Chicago, to which company he later often returned. Puccini’s Bohème was an opera which Jussi performed much more than any other work in his repertoire, and the complete recording which was made in New York in the spring of 1956 is one of the most famous opera recordings of all time.
The last years

During the last years of his life, Jussi Björling continued to sing much in the USA, though he was absent from the Met between April 1957 and November 1959. He began to suffer from heart problems, but still had a hectic schedule. In March 1960, he sang his last performance at the Royal Opera in Stockholm (Trovatore), and later in the same month returned to the Covent Garden Opera in London for the first time since 1939 (Bohème). His very last opera performance took place in San Francisco with the Cosmopolitan Opera ensemble on 1 April 1960 (Faust), and his last recital at Skansen in Stockholm on 20 August. Early in the morning of 9 September, Jussi Björling died in his sleep at his summer home on Siarö.

Recordings from the last months of Jussi’s life demonstrate that his voice and artistry were not influenced by his illness. It happened that the last commercial recording he made, in June 1960, was Verdi’s Requiem.

Published by: Harald Henrysson 2005-12-07


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Jussi and Anna-Lisa Björling, Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Honolulu 1949

Jussi’s Autograph

Radio Interviews with Jussi

Birgit Nlsson and Jussi in Tosca, 3 January 1957

Jussi in front of his studio with Bongo.

Jussi in front of his studio with Bongo.



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Posted by on February 5, 2017 in Tenors


NICOLA ZACCARIA, Bass * 9 March 1923, Piraeus, Greece + 24 July 2007, Athens, Greece;

Nicola Zaccaria (9 March 1923 – 24 July 2007), born Nicholas Angelos Zachariou was a Greek bass.

Born in Piraeus, Zaccaria studied at the Athens Conservatory where he enjoyed his debut in 1949, aged 26. He sang at La Scala in 1953 and his position as a mainstay of the bass operatic repertoire was assured thereafter. He was La Scala’s principal bass for almost 15 years.[1] He sang with some of the most famous singers of his generation, such as Maria Callas,[1] Leontyne Price, Franco Corelli, and Marilyn Horne, who was Zaccaria’s companion in later life. Despite intimidating competition, he developed an impressive international career and recorded more than 30 operas for major recording companies. With Callas he recorded nine complete operas:

Aida (1955, as Il re d’Egitto)
Rigoletto (1955, as Sparafucile)
Il trovatore (1956, as Ferrando)
La Boheme (1956, as Colline)
Un ballo in maschera (1956, as Tom)
Il barbiere di Siviglia (1957, as Don Basilio)
La sonnambula (1957, as Il conte Rodolfo)
Turandot (1957, as Timur)
Norma (1960, as Oroveso)
According to John Ardoin in his book The Callas Legacy, Zaccaria also recorded under the pseudonym Giulio Mauri in the complete recordings of Il trovatore and Turandot in which he appeared with the soprano.

Nicola Zaccaria died in Athens on July 24, 2007 from Alzheimer’s disease at age 84.







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Posted by on February 3, 2017 in Bassses


LISA DELLA CASA, Soprano * 2 February 1919, Burgdorf, Switzerland + 10 December 2012, Münsterlingen, Switzerland;

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During her career, Swiss-born soprano Lisa della Casa was known for her engaging portrayals of Mozart and Strauss roles, particularly Strauss’ Arabella. She began her studies at the age of 15 with Margarete Haeser, who remained her only teacher. Della Casa made her debut as Cio-Cio-san in 1941 in Solothurn-Biel and in 1943 became a member of the Zürich City Theater. In normal times she no doubt would soon have been singing in houses in Germany, Austria, and Italy as well, but she remained in neutral Switzerland until after World War II ended in 1945. One of her first major appearances outside Switzerland was at the Salzburg Festival in 1947. Engaged for that production on the recommendation of Maria Cebotari, she sang the part of Zdenka in Strauss’ Arabella. She was engaged right away to return the following year for another Strauss role, that of the Countess in Capriccio.

Della Casa became a member of the Vienna Staatsoper in 1947, but continued singing with the Zürich City Theater until 1950. In Zürich she sang a wide variety of roles: Pamina in The Magic Flute, Gilda in Rigoletto, and, unusually, Serena in Porgy and Bess (the Gershwin estate’s insistance on all-black casting for that opera has not been followed in Europe as carefully as in the United States). She also sang a noted world premiere in Burkhard’s Die schwarze Spinne as “The Young Woman” (1949) and created the triple role of the female leads in Gottfried von Einem’s Der Prozess (1953).

She made her British debut as the Countess in Mozart’s Nozze di Figaro at Glyndebourne in 1951, and sang the title role of Strauss’s Arabella for the first time at her Munich debut the same year. Arabella became her signature role. Her first appearance at Covent Garden was in that role on a tour with the Bavarian Staatsoper. Critics found in her voice the “spring and silver” that Strauss said he called for in such parts, and her attractive and elegant looks and unmannered acting style made her an audience favorite.

She sang regularly at the Metropolitan Opera from 1953 to 1968, again appearing as Mozart’s Countess. Of Mozart’s heroines, she excelled in Donna Elvira, Donna Anna, Pamina, and Fiordiligi. She sang Chryothemis in Strauss’s Elektra, in Ariadne auf Naxos, and even tried Salome (an attempt she admitted was an experiment). Since she had a wide range, she became one of the few singers to excel, in turn, in all three of the major parts in Der Rosenkavalier: Sophie, Octavian, and Die Marschallin.

In 1952, she received the honorary title of Kammersängerin of Austria. She was invited to sing at the 1952 Bayreuth Festspielhaus, where she appeared as Eva in Die Meistersinger. She was, however, bothered by the lingering sense of the darker side of German nationalism she sensed at that shrine to Richard Wagner and turned down all further requests to sing there.

She had a reputation as a thoughtful, highly principled artist and person. She was known for her criticism of the dishonorable aspects of the “music business” and loathed the intrigues, jealousies, and cabals that often infested the operatic world. She also felt that star egos prevented major singers from working together as ensembles. She retired from singing unexpectedly in 1974.

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Image result for lisa della casa

Image result for lisa della casa

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Posted by on February 2, 2017 in Uncategorized

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