Cher Public

gesamt on the cheap

La Cieca has just noticed that Decca is about to release a 33-disc collection comprising all the standard Wagner works. (You’ll have to look elsewhere for Das Liebesverbot.) The amazing news here is that this complete traversal of the standard Wagnerian canon is on sale for only $66.99 — yes, that’s right, barely two dollars a disc. The recordings are all taken from live performances at Bayreuth:

  • Der fliegende Holländer Anja Silja, Fritz Uhl, Josef Greindl, Franz Crass; Wolfgang Sawallisch.
  • Tannhäuser Anja Silja, Grace Bumbry, Wolfgang Windgassen, Eberhard Wächter, Josef Greindl; Wolfgang Sawallisch.
  • Lohengrin Anja Silja, Astrid Varnay, Jess Thomas, Ramon Vinay; Wolfgang Sawallisch.
    Tristan und Isolde Birgit Nilsson, Wolfgang Windgassen; Karl Böhm.
  • Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg Hannelore Bode, Jean Cox, Bernd Weikl, Karl Ridderbusch, Hans Sotin; Silvio Varviso.
  • Der Ring des Nibelungen Birgit Nilsson, Leonie Rysanek, James King, Wolfgang Windgassen, Theo Adam, Gustav Neidlinger, Theo Adam, Josef Greindl; Karl Böhm.
  • Parsifal Waltraud Meier, Peter Hoffmann, Hans Sotin, Simon Estes; James Levine.

    This Wagner set will be released on June 17. You can pre-order from

    Now, since obviously you all will be listening to your shiny new practically free Wagner CDs starting in June, La Cieca sees little point in devoting the summer months to the customary Wagnerfest at Unnatural Acts of Opera. So she’s taking suggestions for what sort of festival this summer should be. Leave your ideas in the comments and La Cieca will submit a selection of popular nominations to a vote later this month.

    • Eugene

      Apart from Flagstad, Grob-Prandl and Nilsson, Dernesch was a glorious Isolde, IMHO. In the early 80s I saw her as die Amme in Die Frau and she was equally good at mezzo home.

    • chacowhacko

      I saw Dernesch as the Amme in Frau at the Met in 89 or 90. It was still a beautiful voice but on that night at least, she had nothing over about a G. She sort of lunged at the high notes and made a strange glissando down straight way. It was a very strange effect indeed. But I think that is the only time I ever went to the opera because I wanted to see the sets! I am glad I had the chance to see that famous production before it went home to Jesus.

    • Joseph

      As a bit of a tangent…how does one get on the “eight year list” for Bayreuther tickets? More to the point, where can I send my ticket requests for the Bayreuther festival?

    • Reva Shane

      Helga played the mother in Kiri’s Arabella PBS broadcast x years ago. And what was wrong with the Karajan Tristan she was in? The critics seemed to hate it.

    • Bill

      Dernesch, Viennese born, is now 68 years old. She started in Bern in 1961 and was at the Volksoper rather early but in lyric soprano roles, then later in Bayreuth as Elisabeth (I think 1967). After switching to Hoch Dramatische roles for a while she became a Mezzo and it is so that as Amme at the Met she had no high notes whatsoever which sort of disappointed at the end of the second act -- no voice came out at all. She was always a compelling actress and seemingly a very intelligent singer. Her Marschallin was considered to be quite fine

    • Graciella Scusi

      I believe that Helga took a dive in the first act
      of one of those Met FRAUs and was replaced by …Dianne Curry? Around the same time, connecting
      with another thread, I saw FRAU in San Fran.
      with Silja as the Amme,and her then spouse Christoph
      von D. conducting…she definitely had a good night
      when I saw her, no wobble, very little shriek and
      not the usual hag, but sleek and reptilian..
      Gwyneth J. was also in remarkable form as a
      definitive Dyer’s Wife. I have a tape somewhere.
      I believe I was the Guardian of the Threshold…
      lol…wasn’t that a David Daniels role when Gwyneth did it in LA?

    • Famous Quickly

      I sang the Amme for the Garden, where I was also famous for Amneris, Quickly, the Old Prioress and of course Carmen. Then I would come home to face Marcellina!

      I could sing the Kaiserin *tomorrow*- it’s a question of color and tessitura.

    • Eugene

      196. Some critics disliked the Karajan studio Tristan for too refined sound of the orchestra and the chilliest ever Isolde sung by Dernesch. But I think her voice and Karajan’s conducting perfectly go together in this recording. The only advantage, I think, of the Bohm 1966 over the Karajan recording is Martti Talvela (he is incredible!). Otherwise, both recordings are equally remarkable.

    • Melot’s Younger Brother

      I just came back from San Diego. Didn’t see any sailors (that I know of), but I caught Charles Castronovo’s Nadir. Yummy.