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Category Archives: Bass-Baritones

ALOIS PERNERSTORFER, Bass-baritone * 03 June 1912, Vienna, Austria + 12 May 1978, Vienna, Austria;


The Austrian bass, Alois Pernerstorfer, began his training in 1933 at the Vienna College of Music with Theo Lierhammer and with Josef Krips.

Alois Pernerstorfer made his debut in 1936 at the State Theatre of Graz as Biterolf in Tannhäuser. After three-year activity in Graz he came in 1939 to the Vienna Volksoper. In 1945 he joined the Vienna State Opera, whose member he remained from then. In 1947-1948 was temporarily engaged at the City theatre (Opera House) of Zurich, and afterwards appeared there often as a guest. In Zurich he participated in 1947 in the premiere of the opera Der unsterbliche Kranke by Hans Haug. The artist sang at the Festivals of Edinburgh and Glyndebourne (1951 as Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro and as Leporello in Don Giovanni) and almost annually at the Salzburg Festival. There he sang in 1948, 1953 as well as 1956-1958 the Antonio in Le Nozze di Figaro, 1957 Orest in Elektra by R. Strauss, 1958 in Vanessa by Samuel Barber, 1959 in Schweigsamen Frau by R. Strauss, 1962-1963 Arkas in Iphigenie in Aulis by Gluck, 1959-1960 in Zauberflöte, 1960 and 1963 in Rosenkavalier, 1964 in Verdi’s Macbeth and in August 1953 in the premiere of the opera Der Prozess by G. von Einem. In addition he appeared in many concerts in the Festival (for the first time already 1937). He appeared in Salzburg in the premiere of Mozart’s La finta semplice. Under the direction of Bernhard Paumgartner followed then appearances with this youth opera of Mozart in the European music centres (Paris, London, Brussels, Germany, Scandinavia). Appearances brought him also to the Milan’s La Scala (1950, Alberich in Der Ring des Nibelungen under Wilhelm Furtwängler), to the Teatro Liceo of Barcelona, to the Grand Opéra Paris and to the Opera (Théâtre de la Monnaie) of Brussels. In the period of 1951-1952 he was member of the Metropolitan Opera New York.

Alois Pernerstorfer also appeared successfully as a concert singer. He was married with the soprano Henny Herze (1906-1993), who had a successful career at the Vienna Volksoper, particularly as operetta singer.

Recordings: Nixa (Don Giovanni), MMS, Philips (La finta semplice by Mozart), Columbia, Bruno Walter Society (Alberich in complete Der Ring des Nibelungen from Milan’s La Scala, 1950). On the label Cetra appeared a complete recordings of Elektra from Salzburg Festival 1957 with him as an Orest, and of Wagner’s Tannhäuser.

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Posted by on June 4, 2017 in Bass-Baritones

 

GEORGE LONDON, Bass-baritone * 30 May 1920, Canada + 24 March 1985, New York City, New York, United States;

George London (May 30, 1920 – March 24, 1985), born George Burnstein, was a Canadian concert and operatic bass-baritone.

Biography
George London was born to a Russian Jewish family in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and grew up in Los Angeles, California, United States.

In the summer of 1945 Antal Doráti invited his longtime friend, the Hungarian bass Mihály Székely, to sing at the first concert of the newly reorganized Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Because of travel difficulties Székely was unable to arrive in time, so Doráti called upon young George London as a substitute.

After performing widely with tenor Mario Lanza and soprano Frances Yeend as part of the Bel Canto Trio in 1947–48, London was engaged by the Vienna State Opera, where he scored his first major success in 1949.

In 1950 he sang the role of Pater Profundis in Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, conducted by Leopold Stokowski.

He was among the most famous exponents of his five signature roles: Don Giovanni, Boris Godunov, Wotan, Scarpia and Amfortas. He never recorded any role in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, although recital performances of Hans Sachs’ monologues exist on record.

In 1951 he sang at Bayreuth as Amfortas in Parsifal, and reappeared frequently in the 1950s and early 1960s as Amfortas and in the title role of The Flying Dutchman. He made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera in 1951 as Amonasro in Aida, and sang over 270 performances, both baritone and bass-baritone roles, in such operas as The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, Arabella, Tosca, Don Giovanni, Boris Godunov, Carmen, Otello, Parsifal, Tannhäuser, The Tales of Hoffmann, Pelléas et Mélisande, and Faust. In 1964, he created the role of Abdul in the American premiere of Gian-Carlo Menotti’s The Last Savage. He was the first American to sing the title role of Boris Godunov at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, at the height of the Cold War in 1960.[1]

He frequently performed in English: Broadway show tunes and negro spirituals. Recordings of both are available.

He recorded many of his roles for RCA Victor, Columbia Records, and Decca. He recorded Verdi’s Requiem with Richard Tucker and Lucine Amara, under Eugene Ormandy. A recording of a live concert with piano accompaniment is also available from VAI, which includes Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death, as well as several Schubert Lieder and a variety of songs in English.

During his Met career, in 1956, he appeared on Ed Sullivan’s television program in an abridged version of Act II of Tosca, opposite Maria Callas, conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos. A kinescope of that performance was preserved. Another black-and-white videotape of him in the same role, opposite Renata Tebaldi in a complete performance, is sometimes available. In 1958, London performed the leading role of Wotan, in the groundbreaking recording of Richard Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold, conducted by Sir Georg Solti, and produced by John Culshaw for Decca.

Having already sung the Rheingold Wotan and the Siegfried Wanderer roles at the Met in New York in December 1961 and January 1962, he was ready to sing his first complete Ring Cycle. This was to be the now legendary new production mounted by Wieland Wagner at the Cologne Opera in West Germany in May 1962. Wieland Wagner was ready to try out new singers and production ideas in advance of his new Bayreuth Festival production which was scheduled for the summer of 1965 with London as Wotan and the Wanderer.

The Cologne Ring proved to be a great success (a private recording of Das Rheingold from this cycle exists to verify this) but London’s vocal health began to deteriorate rapidly during the 1963–64 season; subsequently the problem was diagnosed as a paralysed vocal cord. This problem increased so much that shortly after singing Wotan in Die Walküre at the Met in March 1965, he canceled his upcoming appearances at the Bayreuth Festival to rest and ideally recover his voice. However, his vocal decline continued so severely that by March 1966, he performed his last appearance at the Metropolitan Opera: the role of Amfortas in Parsifal. London subsequently received injections of Teflon in his paralyzed vocal cord – then the state-of-the-art treatment for this condition – which filled it out and therefore restored his voice to some extent. But he decided the improvement did not let him achieve again his self-imposed highest standards. He therefore ended his singing career in 1967, at 46.

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and George London in “Le Nozze di Figaro”

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2017 in Bass-Baritones

 

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

Image result for Norman Treigle,

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

Demon Within Blitch lg 313

As Olin Blitch in Susannah at NYCO, 1971

Demon Within Mephistophele lg 313

As Boito’s Mefistofele at NYCO, 1969

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2017 in Bass-Baritones

 
 
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