Cher Public

  • Poison Ivy: This is really sweet. I usually find these gala duets to be cheesy but this one worked. 5:58 PM
  • NPW-Paris: Come to think of it, I made a point of visiting NYC and the Met as soon as I could after 9/11, just to show willing. 5:48 PM
  • NPW-Paris: Thank you. I should follow Ms. Bachelot’s tweets, then. Ne manquent que Patrick Sébastien et Eve Ruggieri, apparemment. 5:36 PM
  • manou: Oui /pawff9r 5:31 PM
  • NPW-Paris: Well I hope visiting France isn’t such a bad idea really, as I live here and am hoping we might get back to something... 5:27 PM
  • antikitschychick: Yes significantly less. Spanish and French arent that similar either sadly. I can’t really understand French :-(.... 5:20 PM
  • NPW-Paris: I hope they earn a lot of money for these gigs. 5:03 PM
  • NPW-Paris: Spanish and Arabic perhaps somewhat less! 4:57 PM

Nun der Quiz mich müd gemacht

After a brilliantly collaborative start, the cher public fell just short of deciphering the complete Beim Schlafengehen quiz, though several of you did very well indeed. The results after the jump.

Most surprising, perhaps, is that every single one of you missed the elusive Number 10, and your doyenne expects to witness a good deal of facepalming when she reveals the mystery singer’s identity.

Now, for those of you who would like to check your answers, here’s the complete list, courtesy of Our Own armerjaquino.

  1. Elisabeth Grummer
  2. Anne Schwanewilms
  3. Ileana Cotrubas
  4. Soile Isokoski
  5. Eleanor Steber
  6. Dorothea Röschmann
  7. Martina Arroyo
  8. Margaret Price
  9. Gundula Janowitz
  10. Evelyn Lear
  11. Teresa Stich-Randall
  12. Lucia Popp
  13. Ricarda Merbeth
  14. Barbara Hendricks
  15. Jane Eaglen
  16. Cheryl Studer

Of the whole group, the closest approximation was that of Feldmarschallin, who identified 15 of the 16 ladies, and thus earned a coveted Gift Card.

Thanks to all for playing, and La Cieca promises another vocal ID quiz very, very soon!


  • Baltsamic Vinaigrette says:

    How ironic that a Feldmarschallin should miss Schwarzkopf -- but that was titanic effort altogether. Gratuliere, F!

  • Buster says:

    That was a lot of fun, thanks a lot Armer, and my congratulations to Feldmarschallin.

  • Clita del Toro says:

    *I Wake up Screaming, the Opera*

    Music and Libretto by Andre Previn

    Cast: Jill Lynn: (Betty Grable) Diana Damrau
    Frankie Christopher: (Victor Mature) Jonas Kaufmann
    Vicky Lynn: (Carole Landis) Danielle De Niese
    Ed Cornell: (Laird Cregar) Bryn Terfel

  • Bill says:

    Schwarzkopf has numerous renditions of the 4 Last Songs
    to be heard with some variation of freshness from one to
    another -- For me the standard has always been the early
    1953(?) della Casa version with Boehm conducting -- I guess
    it was that recording which was the first time I heard
    these lovely songs shortly after della Casa’s debut at the
    Met. It is the version I play most often (Janowitz second with Karajan conducting) Of course there are others who were missing from this compilation -- Jurinac for one -- heavenly as well. Flagstad, Norman (not so much to my taste). I like an instrumental sound -- has Kuehmeier done them ?
    Seefried and Gueden seem not to have sung them though
    Seefried sang alot of Strauss’ instrumental songs in the
    1940s and 1950s in numerous orchestral concerts -- some with
    Strauss in attendance and Gueden was a lovely Daphne as late as 1964. Claire Watson ? Did Lemnitz ever essay them or was it too late ? The songs seem
    to suit almost any type of soprano who can float notes with a steady even tone and an effervescent top. Did Kiri ever sing them ? Congratulations to Feldmarschallin.

    • armerjacquino says:

      Bill- Jurinac would have been in there, but for the incompetence of iTunes. I don’t have her rendition on my computer so I bought her ‘Beim Schlafengehen’, only to find that what iTunes had sold me was ‘Fruhling’ (presumably because the first and third songs were seen as interchangeable at the time she recorded it).

      • Clita del Toro says:

        I have only six versions of the VLL. They are : Schwarzkopf (Ackermann) Mattila, Jurinac (Busch), Della Casa, Janowitz and Söderström.

        My favorites are the Jurinac, Della Casa and Schwarzkopf. The one I like least is Mattila’s.

        • Feldmarschallin says:

          The Mattila version is absolutely horrible. I had this a long time ago and got rid of it very fast. My favorite versions are early Schwarzskopf, Jurinac, Flagstad and today Harteros, Schwanewilms and Isokoski. I can live without the Janowitz but not without the Grümmer.

    • messa di voce says:

      I go back to the Della Casa and Jurinac the most. Love Seefried, but I don’t think anyone ever accused her of having “an effervescent top.”

      • Bill says:

        Messa -- Seefried had a very good top early in her
        career (even doing Olympia in 1946) -- just listen to
        her Rossini Stabat Mater from 1949 in Salzburg,
        her Leise Leise from Freischuetz 1944 or her scenes
        from Suor Angelica same vintage, or Verdi Requiem in 1944. By 1958 her top notes were already effortful at times particularly after the second Cesarian she had in April 1957 -- Later, as John Steane reported, the top notes had increasingly to be prayed for. She always (like Jurinac) had a strong gorgeous middle voice right from her earliest recordings (Bruch,Handel etc 1943 -- EMI). After 1953 or so the Four Last Songs would have been a trial for her. She knew her limitations and as she went along dropped roles (or Oratorios, Masses) which were
        becoming too taxing. But in some of her later recordings the strain at the top was something of
        a detriment (pressed and hooty) despite her very beautiful middle voice which she maintained pretty much to the very end. She was never as much a
        “technical” singer as Schwarzkopf or della Casa (or Stich-Randall). Seefried sang very little extremely florid music. Her technique was suspect but not her ability to sing radiantly with lots of soul and feeling. Unlike Welitsch the deterioration in Seefried’s voice was much more gradual from 1957 -- she was sometimes in very good voice and sometimes not -- but as Jurinac stated, after the birth of Seefried’s daughters (both Cesarian births) the voice was never quite the same. Still, Seefried practically never missed a performance in her entire lifetime -- the most famous cancellation being in 1943 for one performance as the Composer in Ariadne
        which enabled Welitsch to make her Wiener Staatsoper
        debut without rehearsal -- Welitsch never sang the
        Composer at the Staatsoper again, though Boehm was
        impressed. The only other Seefried cancellation I know of was a Liederabend in Paris in the mid-1960s when she was replaced by Gundula Janowitz. But Erich Kunz never missed a SINGLE performance in his entire career until he had a heart attack very late in his performaning life.

        Some singers are just heartier than others. And
        along with Schwarzkopf, Seefried was the preeminent
        soprano singing lieder -- No soprano these days goes on
        tour singing grueling lieder recitals as Seefried and Schwarzkopf did almost every night at every city in Germany or Europe and every University
        town and metropolis or in every concert series in the United States -- and a great variety of programs were offered. Seefried always took about 12 different programs of lieder on each tour and Schwarzkopf had a vast repertory of songs to offer as she sometimes sang two different lieder recitals on back to back nights at the same University (though less Brahms and Schumann than Seefried). I suppose Ameling did something similar a decade or two later -- but who does that now?

    • PushedUpMezzo says:

      Kiri made 2 commercial recordings --

      1979 -- Strauss -- Four Last Songs -- London Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Davis [CBS Masterworks] … 1992 -- Kiri Te Kanawa, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Georg Solti (Decca)

      The earlier one is preferable, especially if you’re hooked on Gundula.

      • Cocky Kurwenal says:

        I prefer Kiri’s later recording actually -- the voice has a lived in quality which I find beautiful, even if the freshness of 1970s Kiri is quite miraculous, and the line under Solti is far more pliable. It’s also really great to have the Kiri/Solti piano recital of Strauss Lieder that comes with that recording.

    • Feldmarschallin says:

      No Reining and Lemnitz never sang them. They were premiered in 1950 when both were still active but past their prime especially Lemnitz who I believe debuted in 22. Had she lived I am sure Cebo would have come around to them too.

  • messa di voce says:

    And Reining in her prime would have been close to perfect.

  • Erstegeiger says:

    I am just wondering why we don’t get to know who the concertmaster is? The different sopranos only sang 10-20 seconds and the CM solo was a full 70 seconds. Very nicely played I might add. A sort of old school vibrato that is in this case intimate and heart-felt with restraint.

    But, what do I know?!……

  • Feldmarschallin says:

    Wow, I cannot believe I won. Thank you La Cieca and thank you Armer! Funny I thought I was certain for 10 being Schwarzkopf and was wrong and some of the others were guesses were I thought I would be wrong. Back from the Siegfried with a superb Nagelstad and very, very good Lance Ryan. Di Donato tomorrow if she sings since she was sick at the Cenerentola yesterday and said it was uncertain about Saturday. I am exhausted after two Cenerentolas and the first three of the Tetralogie with two more evenings to go before I have two free nights.
    Now I did manage to pick up the new Schwanewilms CD of Strauss. The disappointing thing about it is that is runs only 52 minutes and there are many Strauss selections which she could have added to make the CD fuller. Ariadne, Daphne and more Arabella for starters. The Capriccio is breathtaking. Havent heard such a beautiful version since Schwarzkopf. The higher her voice goes the more colours and the way she inflects the text is beautiful. The Arabella and VLL are quite fine too but I think the Capriccio is the best selection. Cocky I was wondering if Harteros got booed or a very cool reception at the Garden following her recent cancellations there? I am sure the management and public are not exactly happy with her recent cancellations. Anyway off to bed and tomorrow is CSD on top of everything. The Feldmarschallin is already complaining of that I have not a free evening the whole week. Alles für die Kunst as Tosca says.

    • phoenix says:

      All the more impressive since you did it inbetween a tight schedule of performances!

    • Cocky Kurwenal says:

      Feldmarschallin, only just saw this. Harteros was welcomed with open arms and a rapturous reception when I went to the first night of Otello last week. I also had a slightly peculiar seat that gave me a full view of Pappano’s face for the whole performance, and on the few occasions when I did take my eyes off the stage, he seemed just as enchanted by Harteros as everybody else. All the usual mutual affection and enthusiasm between the 2 of them at the curtain call too.

      I sincerely hope we don’t have to wait another 4 years before she sings again at the ROH, because she was absolutely stunning. Fingers crossed for Don Carlo next May.

  • Avantialouie says:

    I haven’t raised anyone’s hackles in here lately, so it must be time for me to try again. My favorite VLL, bar none, is Jessye Norman’s. Second favorite: Schwartzkopf (with Ackermann.) There is absolutely NOTHING “genuine,” “sincere,” or “heartfelt” about these gorgeous songs: they are artificial construct piled on top of artificial construct piled on top of artificial construct to give the APPEARANCE of something genuine. After all, that’s exactly what Strauss did best: artificial constructs. And NO ONE understands artifice in the service of genuine emotion better than Jessye: that is what she did best, too. And she has the vocal weight and the endless breath to really bring off some of the subtle “inner messages” that Schwartzkopf obviously intended to convey and couldn’t quite get the last coat of varnish on. The “direct,” “genuine” approach to these songs, a la Janowitz and della Casa, lacks the subtlety that is their very breath of life. Jurinac tries a “middle ground” approach that ALMOST works but not quite. Gorgeous voices, the whole lot of ‘em, but “gorgeous” with these songs isn’t nearly enough.

    • verliebtenmadeleine says:

      Well. First Britten as a neurotic closet case/second-rate opera composer, and now this. It’s been a month for half-baked opinions on Parterre. What about the VLL could possibly strike you as disingenuous, Avantialouie? All of its features -- the subject matter, the self-quotations, the twin use of soprano voice (Pauline Strauss) and French horn (Franz Strauss) -- confirm that it was a project of utmost and heartfelt personal significance to Strauss; to accuse of insincerity a traumatized octogenarian composer coming privately to terms with his own mortality just seems perverse to me, sorry. And I have heard the oft-repeated argument that Strauss’s music is all “flash” with no substance and frankly I think amounts to so much semantic bullshit. In fact few composers were as steadfast to their core principles as Strauss; for me his music radiates warmth, humanity, compassion, and yes, sincerity. I do not and cannot understand this cynical view of Strauss as a cold-hearted musical opportunist.

      Forgive my choler, but I am an ardent Straussian and am always keen to defend him. And I do share your love for the Norman’s recording of the VLL, although not for the bizarre reasons you describe.

  • Great quiz and congrats, Feld! Lear was doing here a very impressive imitation of Schwarzy.

    My faves in this music are Jurinac, Schwarzy I, Della Casa, Popp I, ATS, and for me the best are Isokoski / Janowski and Margiono live. I also have Flott, Schwarzy II, Norman, Janowitz, Harteros, Merbeth, Auger, and maybe some morw

    • Krunoslav says:

      My favorites (Jurinac, Frau Dr. Legge 1, Popp I, Janwoitz I) have all been mentioned EXCEPT for Teresa Zylis-Gara-- very elegiac, ravishingly sung and (to me) a big surprise at the end.

  • mia apulia says:

    The only two performers I’ve had the opportunity to hear both live and recorded (unfortunately) in the Strauss 4 Last Songs are Isokaski and Jessye Norman. The Isokaski performance was better than her recording. The voice seemed freer, and though not large, it carried over the orchestra beautifully. The Norman performance was a great disappointment, but it was conducted badly, and she may have been as much on edge singing it as I was listening; with a much bigger sound she was covered by the orchestra at times, the only time I heard her live when that happened.

    I have a fondness for the Caballé recording, maybe because just because I’m a sucker for Caballé, always have been and I imagine always will be.

  • Buster says:

    I always like the singer I last heard in the Four Last Songs the best. At the moment that is Barbara Haveman, who gave the most genuine, heartfelt, and brilliant performance of them earlier this year. I really hope they recorded that concert.

    On disc, I almost always go back to Elisabeth Grümmer, who was 59 when she was finally recorded, during a radio performance, but still has everything I need.

    CF mentioned Pamela Coburn in the thread -- she was lovely too. Maybe not the most distinctive timbre, but very moving.

    Up next is Anja Harteros with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, who already sang them there with Haitink last year. She was totally gorgeous:

  • doktorlehar says:

    Wow, did I really not identify Stich-Randall?? I even own the original LP of that recording. How embarrassing!