MINNIE NAST, Soprano * 10 October 1874, Karlsruhe, Germany + 20 June 1956, Füssen, Germany;

Minnie Nast (10 October 1874 – 20 June 1956) was a German soprano. She was born in Karlsruhe and studied at the Karlsruhe Conservatory, making her début at Aachen in 1897.

Nast performed in Dresden from 1898–1919 and then taught singing there until the bombing of the city in 1945 during World War II. She also toured in Canada, the United States, Russia, the Netherlands, and England. After the 1907 winter season, a shipwreck cost many of the opera company their lives and made her decide never to tour overseas again.

Nast specialized in light and soubrette roles, especially Mozart, and she created the part of Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier in 1911. Her clear tone and lack of continuous vibrato were echoed by other sopranos of the period. She made some recordings which indicate high technical accomplishment, including her part in the trio from Der Rosenkavalier. She also sang the part of Micaëla in the first recording of Carmen. Nast died in Füssen.

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Posted by on October 10, 2017 in Sopranos


BLANCHE ARRAL, Soprano * 10 October 1864, Belgium + 3 March 1945, Palisades Park, New Jersey, United States;

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Blanche Arral (10 October 1864 – 3 March 1945) was a Belgian coloratura soprano.

Born Clara Lardinois in Liège, Belgium, the youngest of 17 children, she studied under Mathilde Graumann Marchesi in Paris. She debuted in a small part in the 1884 world premiere of Jules Massenet’s Manon. Arral performed in various opera houses in Brussels, Paris and St. Petersburg before moving to the United States.

In 1901 she was with a touring company in Indochina, while waiting for the 1902 Exposition of Hanoi to open, performing at Haiphong and the Hanoi Opera House.[1]

In October 1909 she debuted at Carnegie Hall and joined the Metropolitan Opera for the 1909–1910 season. She received her voice instruction from Mathilde Graumann Marchesi. Arral was married to Hamilton Dwight Bassett, a journalist from Cincinnati.[2] Author Jack London based the character of Lucille Arral in his short story collection Smoke Bellew on Blanche Arral.

She died in Palisades Park, New Jersey.

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Posted by on October 10, 2017 in Sopranos


HELMUT KREBS, Tenor * 8 October 1913, Dortmund, Germany + 30 August 2007, Berlin, Germany;

The German tenor (and later, counter-tenor), Helmut Krebs, is historically significant in the field of Early Music. Having a most commanding speaking voice, Helmut Krebs possessed a singing voice of incredible range, accuracy, agility and beauty. He was born on the birthday of Heinrich Schütz in Aachen (also known as Aix-La-Chapelle); but of Dortmund parentage, and raised in Dortmund about 80 miles northeast. Then, as a teen, Krebs moved to Berlin. As a Berlin Highschool student, he followed the tradition of the Kapellmeisters, coming under the tutelage of Dr. Paul Lühmann.

The [late] Swiss tenor, Max Meili, inspired Helmut Krebs to a new vocal technique which Krebs called “rübergesungen”; and he began his career at the Kantstrasse Berlin Volksoper in 1937 as Monosotos in the Magic Flute. In 1938 he performed at the Städtische Oper of Berlin. Then “war-service” interrupted his plans…

Helmut Krebs made his re-debut in 1945 at Düsseldorf. During this period at the Spieloper, he sang the part of Fenton in Nicolai’s Merry Wives of Windsor [as well as in Verdi’s Falstaff], and played Chateauneuf in Lortzing’s Czar and the Zimmermann. In 1948, he was tested for the Berlin Staasoper by Joseph Keilberth, as David in Die Meistersinger. Then in 1949, he performed there alongside baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. From then on, his career became prominent vocal history. [in May 1953, both Krebs and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, over the South West German Radio, performed Nicolaus Bruhns’ Easter cantata Erstanden ist der Heilige Christ, for tenor, baritone, 2 violins and bass continuo. This is but one of many performances they did together.] Under the Northwest German Radio conducted by Zellig, as well as the Berlin Radio under Early Music conductor/restorer-editor Helmut Koch and the Hungarian conductor Ferenc Fricsay (whom he quickly befriended in Salzburg 1949), Krebs performed the works of Glück (as Achilles in Iphigenie in Aulis recorded live with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau on Jan.12, 1951), Benjamin Britten (Les Illuminations conducted by Walther Rother and the German premiere of Albert Herring in the title role), Carl Orff (as the Watchman in Antigonae, 1949), Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (as the Astrologer in Le Coq D’Or), Igor Stravinsky (Oedipus Rex alongside tenor Richard Lewis [for I. Stravinsky had a favoritism for the “heroic-tenor” voice of Richard Lewis, and so used Krebs in the recording only as the Shepherd]), Werner Egk (Ferdinand in Columbus ), Schreker (“The Branded” as Count Salvago), Pfitzner (Abdisu in Palestrina), Richard Strauss (as Brighella in Ariadne auf Naxos in 1955 under Herbert von Karajan, and later as the Dancing Master, as well as in Capriccio & Intermezzo on stage), von Weber (in Oberon), Monteverdi (Apollo and the First Shepherd, and later the title role in Orfeo under August Wenzinger), Kodaly (Psalmus Hungaricus ), Béla Bartók (Cantate Profana ), Arnold Schoenberg (as Aaron in Moses und Aaron), and created an historical moment just days after the notorious building of the Berlin Wall in Verdi’s Requiem (which soon after was repeated in Israel). He also sang as Don Pizzaro, the Captain in L.v. Beethoven’s Fidelio, and in the 9th Symphony under Otto Klemperer. Shortly thereafter he was invited to sing at La Scala, the State Opera of Vienna, in Covent Garden, the State Opera House of Munich, and the State Opera of Hamburg. On September 9, 1958 at the Festival of Darmstadt, under Ernest Bour, Krebs performed Pierre Boulez’ Le Soleildes eaux with words by René Char. Krebs sang the Magnificat of Andre Jolivet aired over the WDR Radio. With Rita Streich he performed Liebermann’s Lenore, Millöcker’s Gasparone, as well as The 1001 Nights of Johann Strauss.

With the Pro Arte Orchestra of Munich under Kurt Redel, Helmut Krebs toured performing the famous W.A. Mozart Concert Arias for high-tenor voice and solo songs, and comic-ensembles (originally sung by W.A. Mozart himself). In 1949, when singing W.A. Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio in Berlin, he sang the role of Pedrillo (also recorded). Gaining fame as an outstanding Mozartian tenor, Glyndebourne Festival then engaged him as Belmonte in Abduction from the Seraglio, Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte, Tamino in The Magic Flute, Don Octavio in Don Giovanni, as Idamamte with Ernst Haefliger as Idomemeo in Idomeneo (at Edinborough). In recital he performed impeccably Schubert’s Die Schöne Mullerin. The famous concerts at St. Helwig’s began also around 1949, and were to become most famous for: the Evangelist roles in the Heinrich Schütz’ Passions and motets, as well as virtually all the major choral works of J.S. Bach [under Fritz Lehmann and Fritz Werner], the Mass in b minor (BWV 232), numerous cantatas, as well as the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248), and the Magnificat (BWV 243). In this capacity, he toured Holland, Belgium and Switzerland.

Helmut Krebs recorded extensively for the DG Archiv label in authentic early-music reconstructions of Lassus [at the Aachen Cathedral, under Rudolph Pohl], Michael Praetorius, Samuel Scheidt, Dietrich Buxtehude, and the early Italian Baroque masters such as Caccini and Viadana. By the beginning of the 1960’s he recorded for Erato/Barclay under Louis Fremeaux in the Church of the Marionites, the French Baroque masterpieces exclusively for counter-tenor by François Couperin, Fathers Brossard and Campra, etc. Still, Krebs found time to perform the traditional lyric-tenor repetoire as the Helmsman in Wagner’s Flying Dutchman, and as Alfred (1949) in Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus (later recorded under Herbert von Karajan). He premiered in two Henze masterpieces: King Hirsche (1956), and the fine comic-tenor role as Prof. von Mucker (1965) in Der Junge Lord which was also filmed. In 1965, under Ferdinand Leitner, he portrayed the Drum Major [but personally Krebs preferred the role of Andres] in Alban Berg’s Wozzeck. More than any other styles, in the 1960’s Krebs was performing the 17th century hautecontre repertoire in natural voice [when most others were singing in falsetto] which proved to be musicologically correct. In 1966, Krebs became a professor at the Musikhochschule in Frankfurt.

In 1981, Helmut Krebs performed the part of the old prisoner in Janacek’s From the House of the Dead at the Deutschen Oper Berlin. He also performed as the Simpleton in Boris Godunov. After leaving public performance, under the auspices of the Berlin Astoria Verlag, Helmut Krebs, became an active composer. In 1982 (the most notable of his compositions) modeled after Heinrich Schütz, was his Small Holy Concerto for Soloist, Violin and Organ, Op. 24 #1 with Primary or Boyschoir.

In December 2000, at the Berlin Gala “Emuettiges Wohlwollen fur den neuen Ehrenbuerger”, Helmut Krebs made a special honorary appearance along with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Lauren Driscoll and other Berlin dignitaries of past repute. In May 2002 [at Berlin’s Tonstraeg 2002 Festival], in tribute to the centennial of Mark Lother’s birthday, Helmut Krebs sang his Oboen-Lieder, Op.47 [after the poems of Georg Schwarz], with Karl Steins at the oboe, and his friend Kurt Kiermeir at the piano. These SFB pieces ran a straight thirteen minutes and thirty-six seconds; and, were originally given through the RSO of Berlin in 1959. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was also on this concert.

In his last years Helmut Krebs resided in Grunewald-Berlin.


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Posted by on October 10, 2017 in Tenors


MANUEL AUSENSI, Baritone * 8 October 1919, Barcelona, Spain + 1 September 2005, Creixell, Spain;

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Manuel Ausensi i Albalat (Catalan pronunciation: [mənuˈɛɫ əwˈsɛnsi]) (1919, in Barcelona – 2005, in Creixell, Tarragona) was a Catalan baritone opera singer.

During the Spanish Civil War, he studied singing in Valencia and then in the Municipal Conservatory of Barcelona. His debut was in 1946 at the Tivoli Theater. In 1947 he sang in Donizetti’s Anna Bolena at the Liceu.

He was considered particularly outstanding in roles such as Rigoletto, but also sang eighteenth century music such as Mozart and Cimarosa and French romantic opera at the Liceu for thirteen consecutive seasons. He recorded a famous full version of The Barber of Seville conducted by Silvio Varviso and co-starring Teresa Berganza and Ugo Benelli in 1964. He also recorded the leading role in several Spanish zarzuelas such as La calesera, El caserío, Los gavilanes, Katiuska, La legió d’honor, Los diamantes de la corona and Jugar con fuego.

He retired in 1973, but in 1990 he returned for a benefit concert for the Opera House in Catalonia. In 1997 he received the Creu de Sant Jordi.

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Posted by on October 9, 2017 in Baritones


STEFANIA WOYTOWICZ, Soprano * 8 October 1922, Orynin, East Poland5 + 1 September 2005, Warsaw, Poland;

The Polish soprano, Stefania Woytowicz, spent her childhood in Brest-Litowsk. Since 1943 she lived in Warsaw. In 1945 she began at the University of Krakau to study Romanistik and musicology. At the same time she sudied singing with Stanislawa Zawadska in Krakow. In 1949 she made her concert debut. In 1950 she won a singing competition in Poznan (Posen), in 1951 the Bach Competition in Leipzig, in 1954 the Competition of Prague Music Spring.

After Stefania Woytowicz’ first successes in Poland, followed in 1955 a big tour to Austria, Russia and China. Since then she had shining successes in the concert halls all over the world, in London and Paris, in Stockholm and Moscow, in Holland and Germany and at the Festival of Edinburgh. In 1960 the singer, who kept her domicile in Warsaw, undertook a big concert tour to North America. At the Salzburg Festival she sang in 1965 a solo part in Symphony of Gustav Mahler, in 1970 in Lukas-Passion by K. Penderecki. In 1970 she appeared in a concert in Brussels, in 1973 at Maggio Musicale in Florence. On the stage she did not appear, probably however in television operas. In addition she sang opera music on numerous records. She had richly formed soprano voice of unusual luminous timbre. She was also am important interpreter of modern music (as Lieder nach Ansichtspostkartentexten by Alban Berg).

Recordings: Supraphon, Muza (Halka by Moniuszko); Eterna, DGG (including title role in complete recondition of the opera Tosca, Stabat Mater by Dvorák, Leonore in La forza del destino), Philips (Lukas-Passion and Utrenja by Penderecki), Telefunken (Lieder of Frédéric Chopin), Edition Schwann (3rd Symphony of Górecki), Eterna, RCA (Utrenja by Penderecki).


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Posted by on October 9, 2017 in Sopranos


GRACIELA RIVERA, Soprano * 17 April 1921, Ponce, Puerto Rico + 17 July 2011, Mays Landing, Hamilton, New Jersey, United States;

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Graciela Rivera (April 17, 1921 – July 17, 2011) was the first Puerto Rican to sing a lead role at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Graciela Rivera was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico. She was the seventh of eight children born to evangelical minister-cabinetmaker Gonzalo Salvador Rivera and Enriqueta Padilla. As a child she enjoyed singing. As a church pastor, her father who would often play in his record player the opera music of Caruso. He owned a piano and when he played she would sing church hymns with her mother. She was considered very talented by her family and teachers alike.

Her family moved to Cataño and later to Santurce, a section of San Juan, where she finished her primary and secondary education. She was a student at Santurce Central High School when she auditioned and participated in school productions of “The Magic Flute”, “Il trovatore”, “Rigoletto”, “Lucia di Lammermoor” and “Aida” (Ms. Rivera believes these were the first operas ever produced by a high school anywhere in the world). She delighted audiences in Puerto Rico with her soprano voice in concerts which she organized. She planned to use the money obtained from these concerts to pay for her studies at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City.

Rivera moved to New York after she graduated from high school. She enrolled at Juilliard’s and took voice classes, piano lessons, music theory, harmony and composition, graduating in 1943. Upon the outbreak of World War II, she sang for the American troops overseas as a member of the Red Cross.

In 1945, she was given the role of Adele in the musical “Rosalinda”, a Broadway version of Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus. Rivera traveled to France and Germany with the production. That very same year she made her operatic debut as Rosina in “The Barber of Seville” by Gioachino Rossini at the New Orleans Opera.

In December 1951, she became the first Puerto Rican to sing a lead role at the New York Metropolitan Opera as Lucia in the production of Lucia di Lammermoor. She earned accolades for her performance from critics around the world. In 1953, Rivera was proclaimed “Citizen of the Year” by the City of New York.

In 1954 Rivera was featured as a guest singer in Name That Tune, and later that year, at an instance of Your Show of Shows, serving as a replacement for Marguerite Piazza. In 1956, she performed at the Theater of the University of Puerto Rico and one of her back-up singers was a young fellow Puerto Rican by the name of Justino Diaz, who would someday also become an opera singer. That same year Rivera was presented with a special recognition by the Government of Puerto Rico.

In 1959, Rivera returned to New York where she had a weekly radio show at WHOM. She traveled regularly between New York and Puerto Rico, in Puerto Rico she participated in the IV Pablo Casals Festival
She taught Puerto Rican music, Italian and Spanish at the Hostos Community College for 15 years before retiring in 1987. She also held conferences at Hunter College, Rutgers College and Lehman College. In 1993, Rivera earned her Doctorate Degree in Humanities from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico and in 1996 she was bestowed with a Honoris Causa from Lehman College.

Rivera died on 17 July 2011 at her home in the Mays Landing section of Hamilton Township, Atlantic County, New Jersey. She was survived by her daughter, Ginny Soto, and son-in-law, Sam Soto, of Mays Landing, N.J.; her daughter-in-law, Jean Marie Zumchak; and her grandchildren, Joseph Zumchak III, and Jacob Zumchak of Port Richey, Fla.; in addition to many nieces and nephews.

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Posted by on October 6, 2017 in Sopranos


JENNY LIND, Soprano * 6 October 1820, Stockholm, Sweden + 2 November 1887, Herefordshire, United Kingdom;

Jenny Lind, c. 1870.

Jenny Lind, original name Johanna Maria Lind (born Oct. 6, 1820, Stockholm—died Nov. 2, 1887, Malvern, Worcestershire, Eng.), Swedish-born operatic and oratorio soprano admired for her vocal control and agility and for the purity and naturalness of her art.

Lind made her debut in Der Freischütz at Stockholm in 1838 and in 1841 studied with Manuel García in Paris. Giacomo Meyerbeer wrote the part of Vielka for her in Ein Feldlager in Schlesien (Berlin, 1844), and in 1847 she sang in London the role of Amelia in I Masnadieri, written for her by Giuseppe Verdi. She first appeared in London in Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable (May 4, 1847); Henry Chorley reported that the town “went mad about the Swedish nightingale.”

Her range extended from the B below middle C to high G. A skilled coloratura singer who often wrote her own cadenzas, she also sang simple songs with great appeal. Eventually her sincere piety made her determine to leave the stage. Success in oratorio and recital made it easier for her to do so, and her final appearance in opera was in 1849, in Robert le Diable. The following year she toured the United States under P.T. Barnum’s auspices, and in 1852 she married her accompanist, Otto Goldschmidt. She and her husband lived first in Dresden, Ger., and from 1856 in England. In 1870 she appeared in Goldschmidt’s oratorio Ruth at Düsseldorf, and in 1875 she led the sopranos in the Bach choir in London, founded by Goldschmidt. Her last appearance was in 1883. From 1883 to 1886 she taught at the Royal College of Music, London.

Courtesy: Britannica

Litrato ni Gerhard Santos.

Lind in 1850

Source: Wikipedia

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Posted by on October 6, 2017 in Sopranos

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