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Who’s that woman?

silja_behrensFaithful and sharp-eared member of the cher public reedroom notes, “…an observation about the Levine 40th Wozzeck CD (Anja Silja/Jose van Dam)—the second CD (acts 2 and 3) has to be a different performance, different cast and different year. It is undoubtedly Hildegard Behrens on the 2nd CD. I don’t know who the baritone is but it is NOT van Dam. The orchestra/stage balance is different on the 2nd CD and it sounds like a “better” orchestra too.  Am I nuts? “

Here’s a comparison of a couple of snippets of the two discs, with a brief silence in between. Any ideas what’s going on here?

Dueling Maries


  • 21
    Bill says:

    Buster -- I never heard Elisabeth Hoengen as Marina in Boris which she sang in Vienna (alternating with Jurinac both singing in German) from 1947 to 1955 but after the Staatsoper reopened in 1955, Boris (along with other Russian Operas after the occupation was over) was not in the repertory of the Staatsoper for 20 years when Birgitte Fassbaender sang it (alternating with Jurinac).
    Hoengen was a great artist to be sure -- and widely admired by her colleagues.

    The first Boris after the war under Krips in 1947
    (probably as a courtesy to the Russian occupiers) had
    Anny Konetzni as Marina, Schoeffler as Boris,
    Jurinac as Fjodor, Seefried as Xenia, Dermota as
    Schuiski, Elena Nikolaidi as the Nurse, Max Lorenz as
    Grigori, Rosette Anday as the Innkeeper, Herbert Alsen as Pimen. After that George London and Ludwig Weber
    also sang Boris and Martha Moedl sang only 1 Marina
    with Clemens Krauss and Kempe also conducting the opera at times.

    There has been a long line of important Mezzos in
    Vienna with Anday, Hoengen, Ludwig, Baltsa and now
    Garanca all singing for decades (save Garanca) and all doing a wide variety of roles. Simionato sang there a great deal as well but only for a decade and
    in her usual roles (plus Cherubino). Grace Hoffman and Ruth Hesse were regular guests as was Jean Madeira somewhat earlier and Resnik too. Cossotto and Zajick made only occasional guest appearances -- and Borodina will make her belated debut there next season, reportedly in a new Aida conducted by Muti.

    But Hoengen sang almost everything and with her 117
    Marcellinas in Figaro managed to keep Famous Quickly from essaying her most celebrated Met rendition of the part entirely from the Vienna public. Famous Quickly must have been livid not to have been able to wrestle Marcellina away from Hoengen in Vienna.


  • 22
    Scaramuccio einmal says:

    Stayed away since the nastiest bout of Brit-bashing, still read what’s going on with interest but had to pop up to clarify what’s happened here, since you’re more than a little offbeam.

    In short, on the white-label copies I have, it’s Behrens on BOTH CDs. How could anyone not hear that? So they’ve labelled it wrong. At least I’d take a bet on that.

    So who IS the Wozzeck? Definitely not Van Dam.

    Both sets are riddled with problems. Some DVDs are multi-region,others aren’t -- purchasers in the UK beware.

    • 22.1
      Scaramuccio einmal says:

      OK, here are the facts from the Met’s representatives for the set: ‘the Met mistakenly sent CDs with the January 19, 1985 performance with Christian Boesch and Hildegard Behrens. They will correct this error by replacing the CDs with the performance intended featuring van Dam and Silja in the sets. Of course the Met deeply regrets the error. Their plan is to send replacement CDs to those who have already purchased the complete set. Going forward the sets will have the correct 1980 performance.

      The complete cast on the incorrect CD [sic -- in fact both CDs are of the same performance, as discussed above] is:
      Wozzeck……………..Christian Boesch
      Marie……………….Hildegard Behrens
      Captain……………..Ragnar Ulfung
      Drum Major…………..Richard Cassilly
      Doctor………………Franz Mazura
      Andres………………John Gilmore
      Margret……………..Isola Jones
      Apprentice…………..James Courtney
      Apprentice…………..Russell Christopher
      Fool………………..Andrea Velis
      Soldier……………..Dennis Steff
      Townsman…………….John Hanriot
      Child……………….Joel Chaiken

      Hope that helps.