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JOHANNA GADSKI, Soprano * 15 June 1872, Anklam, Germany + 22 February 1932, Berlin, Germany;

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Johanna Gadski (15 June 1872 – 22 February 1932) was a German soprano. She was blessed with a secure, powerful, ringing voice, fine musicianship and an excellent technique. These attributes enabled her to enjoy a top-flight career in New York City and London, performing heavy dramatic roles in the German and Italian repertoires.

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Johanna Gadski in 1915

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

PAULINE DOROTHY BROCKLESS, Soprano * 4 May 1929, London + 27 March 2015, London;

Pauline Brockless, who has died aged 85, was a soprano who enjoyed success in the 1950s, notably in the traditional performances of Beethoven’s Choral Symphony at the penultimate night of the Proms under Malcolm Sargent on three occasions; she was also renowned for her appearances in the Royal Choral Society’s Good Friday performances of Handel’s Messiah.

The Florence Nightingale Centenary Concert at the Royal Albert Hall in June 1954 in the presence of the Princess Royal was another major event in which she took part. The concert, with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Colin Ratcliffe, commemorated the pioneering nurse’s journey to the Crimea with a group of volunteers to tend to British war casualties; afterwards one critic commented favourably on Pauline Brockless’s “pretty voice”.

In 1958 she sang in the memorable recording of Bach’s St Matthew Passion conducted by Vaughan Williams at Leith Hill Festival six months before his death. Four years ago, and as one of the last surviving soloists from that occasion, she returned to Leith Hill – lively of spirit but wheelchair bound – to hear once more Bach’s great work, this time conducted by Brian Kay.

There were also appearances with her brother, the countertenor Brian Brockless who died in 1995, at venues such as the Wigmore Hall and the Savoy Chapel. These ranged from performances of Brian’s setting of the Missa Brevis to works by Purcell and Handel accompanied by harpsichord and viola da gamba, the latter leading led one critic to remark in 1959 that “her cool purity of tone was admirable in this early music”.

By the 1960s, however, illness was slowly but inexorably bringing down the curtain on her singing career and for almost 50 years Pauline Brockless required regular care, first from her ageing parents and then in a nursing home.

Pauline Dorothy Brockless was born in Muswell Hill, north London, on May 4 1929, the youngest of three children. Her father Gilbert had worked for Lloyds of London and was a keen amateur baritone and horn player, while her mother Dorothy was an amateur pianist.

Young Pauline sang in the choir of Christ Church, Crouch End, then studied at Hornsey College of Art and the Royal College of Music before completing her singing diploma at the Royal Academy of Music. She also took lessons in Paris with Hugues Cuénod, a pupil of Fauré, who gave her an excellent grounding in French art song and pronunciation.

Her big break came when her uncle, George Brockless, director of music at Central Hall, Westminster, asked her to step in at short notice for a performance of Messiah when the original soloist fell ill. In the audience was Emmie Tillett, a leading concert agent, who signed her up, arranging appearances with conductors such as Antal Doráti, Reginald Jacques and David Willcocks in works such as Handel’s Solomon, Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust and Bach’s St John Passion, in which she often sang with her brother.

She appeared in recital with Julian Bream, was a guest soloist with choral societies around the country and performed in several radio plays. She also appears on Sargent’s 1955 recording of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for HMV.

For a number of years Pauline Brockless was a visiting lecturer at Cambridge School of Art, putting her early training to good use by producing paintings in the cubist style and some fine sculptures, including a bust of Sargent.

There were still occasional concert appearances including, in 1967, performances of Bach’s St John Passion at the Queen Elizabeth Hall under James Gaddarn, in which Roger Norrington was the tenor, and Haydn’s Nelson Mass, conducted by her brother at the Festival Hall to celebrate the granting of a royal charter to the University of Surrey.

Pauline Brockless was unmarried.

Courtesy : The Telegraph

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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.

Hulda Lashanska with fingers interlocked in 1917.jpg

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Posted by on March 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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

 

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 February 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

 

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

Björling – Life and Career

Childhood

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.
Breakthrough

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

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2017 in Uncategorized

 
 
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